So I guess I unconsciously have a wish to torture myself. Yesterday I ran my first 5k, and I did better than I expected and apparently didn’t suffer enough, so I imagine it was a subconscious effort to inflict torture upon myself when I agreed to take a hot yoga class today with my friend, Jordana. Jordana has been telling me that she likes these classes and she has been encouraging me to try it. “Eh, being hot and sweaty isn’t really my thing.” I would tell her, and she insisted that she loved it. So today I agreed to go.
I have never taken a yoga class before, ever. I tried a few yoga DVDs at home previously and have heard other people talk a lot about yoga and I’ve done some yoga moves with friends before. I know a few of the moves. I know “down dog” and “up dog.” I know “child’s pose” and two of the “warrior” poses, but really that’s about it. Overall I would say that I’m a beginner.
I arrived at the class today and Jordana was waiting for me. She helped me set up my mat and a towel to cover the mat (for the sweat.) The room was quite hot and I commented on it. The doors to the room were open and she said that it wasn’t hot yet, it’s going to get a lot hotter. She had told me prior to class to wear a sports bra and shorts to class and I did, but I was wearing a shirt too, and she told me I’d probably want to take my shirt off. I did as she suggested.
The class was very full, there were probably 20 women in the class and two men. The instructor was a wiry looking blonde and she asked who was new to the class. There were three newbies in the class including myself. She announced to the class that with this many new people that she unfortunately could not heat up the room as hot as usual. She told us that the goal of the class is to enjoy it, and if we start to feel dizzy or unwell that we should attempt to stay in the room, but if we needed to we should just lay down on our mat for a while. The class was going to be 80 minutes long.
The instructor closed the doors to the classroom and I could feel heaters in the room pouring heat onto my body. It was like standing near three electric heaters set to high in a humid room. The class did a series of sun salutations, which I did my best at, and I watched Jordana and the women in front of me so that I could learn how to do them. I guess this wasn’t a beginning class, there was no explaining of the poses. I started to sweat profusely. By the end of the series of moves, sweat was dripping down my face and started to soak my towel. In the moves where my head was upside down sweat actually dripped into my nose, and I thought that if I sweated much more I would drown.
As the class went on it became harder for me to do the simplest things. It was so hot. There came a point where I was supposed to be stretching with my arms above my head while in a standing position that I thought I may pass out. I became the first person in the class to lay down on my mat. I laid there for a little while and tried to focus on breathing. My whole body was drenched in sweat. I have never sweated so much in my life. I felt a tiny bit of cool air over my body and realized that the instructor opened the door slightly. I almost immediately felt better.
In a little while I managed to get back up and try to do the moves with everyone else. The women in this class were so hard core. I watched them do all these crazy moves, balancing on one leg with the other in the air above their heads. One lady actually did a handstand while doing some moves on the floor. Everyone was sweating profusely. The woman in front of me was a total beast, she was super muscular and doing incredible moves. She was literally sweating a puddle on the floor. I watched sweat drip off of her elbows as she held a balancing pose: drip, drip, drip. I felt like I was struggling just to survive in the heat. I exerted supreme effort while attempting to achieve lame, mediocre versions of the poses the class was doing. I honestly think that if my only task were to stand in one place for the duration of the class, that I would have had to lie down occasionally to keep from passing out. I couldn’t believe these people could do challenging yoga poses in this heat and humidity.
Throughout the class I alternated trying to do some of the yoga moves with laying on the floor and drinking ice water. Occasionally, when I must have appeared to be near passing out, the instructor would open the door slightly for a moment, and even the slightest bit of cooler air caressing my body felt like a dream come true. Jordana kept up with the class and never had to lie down like I had to. I wasn’t the only one who had to lie down during the class, but I was the one who had to do it the most. For a moment, when I was laying there, I glanced up at Jordana doing successive sun salutations and thought ‘Holy shit, I had no idea she was so hard core.‘ I had just gained newfound respect for my friend who I already thought was pretty bad ass.
For the last 20 minutes of the class I did very little. I was just hoping time would pass quickly. The heat seemed to be bearing down on me from all directions. It seemed like there were a thousand heaters in the room. My yoga mat and towel were drenched and squishy. My hair was soaking wet. I laid there and tried to remember all the times in my life when I was hot. There was never a time in my life when I had come even remotely close to sweating this much, and as much as I tried I couldn’t think of any other time when I was ever so hot. I was the hottest and sweatiest that I have ever been in my entire life. I felt as though I was again near the point of passing out. I had no desire to move ever again. I wondered it this is what it feels like to die. I almost thought that death would be a welcome escape.
Then the class was over. The doors opened and cooler air washed over me. I thought that maybe I would live after all. I still didn’t move and stayed in my supine position. Jordana asked me if I felt ok. I think I mumbled something about maybe being ok in a minute, or maybe I told her I wanted to die. I don’t remember. She told me she would meet me outside the room. I laid there long enough for everyone else to have packed up their mats. I looked around the classroom and noticed smears of sweat, pools of sweat, and water condensation over the entire classroom floor. I mustered up enough energy to gather my stuff, pick up my sopping wet towel from my yoga mat and roll up my mat.
I met Jordana outside of the room. She looked energized and excited. She optimistically and expectantly asked me “So, what did you think?” It was obvious that she loved it, she was happy, and she felt great. I didn’t feel good. I felt guilty for not loving it. Maybe it would be great if it didn’t make me want to pass out from heat exhaustion. I could probably even tolerate the sweating if I didn’t feel so lightheaded and short of breath. I didn’t think I could ever become accustomed to the extreme heat. I thought maybe I needed some time to reflect on the experience. I told her I wasn’t sure yet how I felt about it, but I thought that it was an interesting experience.
I have now had the rest of the day to think about. I decided I didn’t like it.