Today I bit the bullet. I put on my big girl panties. I shit.
[As in “shit or get off the pot”…? Ok, fine, “I got off the pot”.]
I signed up for hot yoga. It’s been something I’ve been considering for a while but as they say, “procrastination makes imperfect!”.
[Note: no one says that]
The owner of the yoga studio was sweet and had a lovely face to match her long, lean yoga body. I resisted the need to let her yogi-esque perfection bias my behaviour (I don’t know…maybe I’d talk about recycling? Or chai something?) and before long, we were chatting it up like old friends. I told her how much I like beards. She told me the story of how she and her partner Ed met (Ed, also a business partner in the studio, later walked by. I said “nice to meet you, Don!”. Don?). It was great. I was stoked. I was gonna start today! The only class I could make, however, was simply entitled “Strong”. She was quick to dissuade me and point out several beginner classes being offered. Afterall I had never done a hot class before and “Strong” was their “toughest class”. I told her I’d think about it.
Bit stubborn, though, I am. I dug my hot pink yoga mat out of the bottom of a giant Rubbermaid container where it’s been hibernating for several weeks. Threw on a sports bra, an ultra thin Joe Fresh pale pink t-shirt with ruffled sleeves and yoga(ish) pants. And off I went. I felt pretty impressed with myself for having my own yoga mat. Not so much, though, when everyone then unrolled a second layer on top of their mats – a towel or perhaps some special hemp-infused blanket – same shape as the mat, used for, I could only assume, absorption of the dirty sweat fest we were about to create.
So we began the 75 minute class. To your first question, did you know beforehand that it was going to be 75 minutes?, my answer is no. To your second question, had you known, would you still have gone? my answer is no. Hells no. Is that even something people do? I have a 45 minute yoga DVD which I rarely complete in its entirety. I refuse to be aware of my body for longer than 28 minutes.
I quickly learned the invaluable importance of a towel to hot yoga practice. And not just one. Two towels are needed: a small one to wipe away the torrential flood spouting from your every pore (even my dead elbows were sweating). And a large one over your mat to prevent the slip-n-slide-like-disaster zone that will otherwise form below you. Not once but twice, while trying to gracefully hold an intricate inverted pose, my legs and arms shot out like they were spring loaded. Face plant. Twice. Once – the really dramatic one where I let out a butch, man-yelp – was when the teacher just happened to be standing next to me. So, hopefully, my mannish grease flop was witnessed by all.
I kept it together though. Minus the two spills I was pretty on par with everyone else, it seemed. That’s when my vision failed me. The overall lighting of the studio was dim and my contact lenses were dried on to my irises like burnt raisins. Disaster started with looking up at the ceiling lights during a pose, then coming out of the pose and looking at the instructor. You ever do that? Stare into a bright light then look at something else? You know, then, what happens to that something else when you look at it. That’s right, it disappears behind a blinding sun. I couldn’t see. No matter how hard I blinked, squinted, wiggled my dehydrated contact lenses, there was no return of normal vision. Now, I’ve done yoga before, but always following a teacher. Following a teacher, you wouldn’t know but I was Sri Sadasiva Brahman himself (yes, I just googled “famous yogis”). But without a visual guide, it’s allll just sounds. Chaturanga, rosh hashanah, someone’scallinya, painted gerbil, warrior 1, warrior 2, warrior princess. It’s all the same. Words. So I waited for my vision to return and did something that resembled Nell doing “Walk like an Egyptian” in the meantime. It was slippery and I was blind. But I’m pretty sure it was a beautiful thing.
To be honest, the blindness lasted maybe a minute and a half. But that’s a long time to be improvising yoga. And just as my light blindness subsided, down poured the gallon of sweat that had clearly been pooling in my scalp in some grotesque skull cavern that I didn’t know I had. One tip of the head, and that salty ocean filled my entire right eyeball. I’m not sure if the contact lens was flushed out by the sweat river or flicked out during my frantic attempt to rub away the salt burn. Or hey, maybe it’s still sitting there in the back of my ocular cavity. Point is, my right eye was rendered useless.
Here’s why having a sweat flood in one eye is worse than having it in both: You got a sweat flood in both eyes? You politely excuse yourself and step outside the room to fix yourself; what choice do you have? You get the sweat flood in just the one? You persevere like a stubborn asshole. I bet that yoga teacher has never been continuously winked at for 38 minutes before tonight.
And then there’s the yoga attire. There should have been a memo. I’ll admit, I’m the first to make fun of the “Lululemon” pandemonium. “They’re pants, people”, I’d say (to no one). “Black pants. And a shirt. What’s the big frickin’ deal? I got this little number at Dominion for $7. How d’ya like them apples, suckaas?”.
[No, I have not ever uttered the words “how do you like them apples” but it seemed appropriate as I read what I was typing just before that. And yes, I read it back to myself with a Bostonian accent.]
Anyway, my stretchy cotton pants absorbed almost as much liquid as one-ply toilet paper. And my ultra-thin, pale pink cotton t-shirt with ruffled sleeves? Within ten minutes, it was see-through. Completely see-through. And you may well know that the walls of yoga studios are mirrors. So there I stood (flailed, flopped, grunted) in front of the entire class, topless, with two pale pink corsages around my shoulders. Oh, and don’t think your nipples only dart out like pencils when it’s cold. Oh no. It’s any temperature extreme. I need not elaborate.
But, all that aside… I did it. The whole 75 minutes. As I lay there in the dark amidst the gentle sounds of harps and loons from the CD player; as I focused on the rise and fall of my belly (-button swamp) and felt the cool refreshment of the complimentary lemongrass-soaked towel strewn across my face… I felt amazing. Peaceful and strong.
I did it.
It was totally worth it.