Yoga is undeniably good for you and sweating is good for you so obviously combining the two must increase the goodness, right? I am trying to practice yoga for many reasons. All the usual but mainly because I am stressed the fuck out and I need to learn to relax. I eat healthy. I work out, like, jog a couple times a week. But have you seen a recent picture of Christy Turlington? She just looks so relaxed and I want to look like that. Of course she looks like she hasn’t aged in twenty years and I want that too.
Hot yoga is, simply, yoga done in a room heated usually between 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Doesn’t that sound horrible? I mean just walking to the mailbox in that kind of heat is a good enough reason not to send a birthday card. Bikram Yoga is a very popular form of hot yoga, developed by the name of Bikram Choudhury. He integrated a series of 26 Hatha Yoga poses practiced in a hot ass room and refers to these studio rooms as “torture chambers.” It is recommended, as a beginner to take three classes for your body to understand the proper approach to the posture, and ten classes for your body to begin to work with postures. A minimum of ten classes per month is recommended to get the benefits of Bikram Yoga. Bikram Choudhury reputed to have been doing yoga since the age of four, founded the Yoga College of India. He developed this sequence of postures that, when practiced consistently will lead to “a better, healthier, more peaceful life.” So the key to happiness and the fountain of youth are to be found in a torture chamber with a bunch of half naked, red-faced, sweat-drenched people standing way to close to each other. Ok, I’m in.
I arrive at the studio and immediately feel comforted by the number of people looking less than perfect in hardly any clothing. A steamy feet smell encompasses me. I situate my yoga mat and towel, and begin to stretch. While focusing in the mirror I notice a woman wearing yoga pants so tight I can see her camel-toe reflection and she is four rows behind me, doesn’t that shit hurt? The yoga instructor walks in. She needs a pedicure. I cannot help but to notice this and I admonish myself for not being in a positive mind frame. Is yoga going to make me a nicer person? I hope so. I hold poses and practice measured breathing in the stifling heat, the pungent aroma of foot odor fills my nostrils and lungs. I exhale concentrating on my image in the mirror and the instructors voice. I feel dizzy, want to quit and go home but I am determined to do this because I want to be happier, and nicer, and relaxed and ageless, I remind myself. In an effort to steer my mind I imagine myself on the cover of a yoga magazine holding the perfect pose, looking so happy and relaxed. Dammit I forgot to breath. Gasping for air while you are stretching your body into a shape it has never known ability to reach, as dry heat blasts you and sweat pours off of you is, torture. Why am I doing this? Who the fuck works out in a goddamn furnace? I am going to be a better person when this is all over, I will be enlightened and rejuvinated, and happiness will be mine. I reach a place of misery and begin to wonder if I am actually putting myself at risk by being here. I feel nauseated, I can’t be the person who vomits in the hot yoga room. I lie down on my mat. She comes and cracks open a window near my head and a sliver of cool air reaches my face. I can’t wait till this is over, I hate this and I never want to do it again, but if they can do it so can I, and so I do.
After class I feel lighter. I’m floating down the street. I want to drink pureed grass and eat sunshine. Ok, that’s an exaggeration. But really, the stress is gone from my shoulders and my neck. I feel an energy and a calm from within, like the heat absorbed into my body soothing and recharging me. And I feel, happy. I tried something new, and completed a difficult task without the pressure of perfection weighing on me. I head home walking past the liquor store instead of heading in for my bi-nightly wine purchase, since I spent my wine money on yoga. Hmm, maybe this is the beginning of a new chapter?