Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My introduction to hot yoga

When I hurt my back in 2004, I went to a rehab facility at a gym.  I did this in addition to physical therapy.  I was with a group of people who were about the same age as my grandparents, most of them in there for stroke rehab.  We started out slowly doing water therapy, then transitioned into some light yoga and pilates stretches and light weights on the machines.  A few months after I had been released back to normal activities, I went with my sister to a yoga class at the gym.  The class started out slow, and I was catching on from my experience with the rehab classes.  Then the teacher instructed everyone to do the "extended hand to big toe" pose.

I tried.  

I failed.  

I fell over.  

I took my sister out with me.  

I disrupted the entire class.  

I was mortified.  

After the class, the teacher walked over to me and very rudely said that she didn't think that yoga was a good fit for me, and I should find something better suited for me.  In other words, don't come back to my class, you suck.

So that was my last yoga experience...until Sunday.  My birthday.  Lo texted me and said that she was going to yoga, and did I want to go with her?  It's "mellow flow", not as hot, it's the easiest class, and the teacher "is such a love."

"Not as hot?  How hot is that?" 

(A few years ago, we went to a beer fest on the Sacramento River and it was 110* outside.  I got dehydrated even though I didn't even drink any beer and overheated and haven't been able to tolerate the heat since.  I hate being hot.)

"Only around 85-87"

(That's way better than than the 105 Bikram yoga you always hear about)

"That's not too bad.  What do I need to wear and bring?"



So I met Lo at the yoga studio at 10am on a Sunday, on my birthday.  Instead of sleeping in and eating birthday bacon. 

Who does that?  Aren't birthdays for sleeping, hangovers, eating out, and just being lazy?

We set up our mats.  The room was warm, but not overwhelming.  The lights were off.  There was a statue in the center surrounded by candles and flowers.  The teacher comes up and talks to Lo and gives her a hug.  Lo introduces me to Krista, and she gives me a hug, like we've been friends for a hundred years. I'm not a hugger, but this was a welcoming, inviting hug.  It made me feel like I was with family.    

The class starts and Krista starts talking, guiding us through the journey she will be taking us on this morning.  Her voice is soothing.  Her words are calm.  Relaxing.  Encouraging.  "It's ok if you can't do the pose."  "Don't worry about when you fall over." "Don't forget to breathe."

WHEN YOU FALL OVER.  I liked this lady already.

The class started out simply.  I've taken a few Pilates mat classes over the past few months, so I was a little bit more limber than at my last yoga class.  I was able to do many of the poses.  Some I did a modified version, some I made up my own thing that in no way shape or form resembled what was going on in the studio at that time. I was constantly moving.  Trying.  Effort. I fell over.  No one scolded me or shot me a death glare  I got up and kept on going.  

I started sweating a bit, but made sure I took a break to get some water in me.  No way was I going to get overheated.  I would not pass out.  911 would not be called out.  I would not spend my birthday in the ER getting treated for heat exhaustion from hot yoga. My hubby would never let me live that down. 

Then I started to get warm.  I wiped my forehead.  I was drenched.  I was sweating buckets.  Places on my body were sweating that I had no idea you could sweat from. Did I pee myself or was this all sweat?

This has to be what Texas feels like in July.

The poses kept getting harder, but I hung in there.  I kept drinking water and modifying poses that were too advanced for me.

Restorative poses.  My favorite.  A reward for all your hard work before you head back to the real world. A time to reflect on how far you challenged yourself, and how far you have come.

When I started the class, I stood with my feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart.  I could barely touch my knees with my fingertips.  By the end of the class, I could almost put my palms flat on the floor.

"You did so good." A goodbye hug.  A picture to prove I survived. 

Will I go back ?  


Will I try hotter yoga?  



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