I Survived a Month of Hot Yoga

Since September was National Yoga Month, I decided to try something new with my yoga routine. I found a place that did hot yoga and signed up for a 30-day membership. As many classes as I wanted, for $40. I figured if I went 4 times, it’d be worth it. (It’s a bit of a drive for me.)

I hadn’t heard much about hot yoga, so I didn’t have a lot of expectations. That said, when I entered the studio the first time, I was worried it would be a trendy place where everyone was skinny… and snobby. I was prepared to be the biggest person there. I was prepared to be in the worst shape. I was prepared to feel judged, or worse, snubbed.

I wasn’t.

From the moment I walked in, I realized I’d been worried about nothing. The staff were welcoming and helpful. The people waiting for the class were friendly. I wasn’t the skinniest and I wasn’t the largest. I wasn’t in the best shape nor was I in the worst shape. Though to be honest, I couldn’t tell you what anyone else’s practice looked like. The first instructor told us not to feel ashamed if we couldn’t do something… that nobody in there should care.  So we didn’t.

I walked into my first class and my first thought was… wow it’s hot in here. I left thinking the class wasn’t what I’d expected but I enjoyed it.

I walked out of my second class thinking that was how a yoga class was supposed to feel. We walked in a room full of strangers, but in class we were all the same. I felt bonded with the people in that room, even though I didn’t say a word to them. Amazing how yoga brings people together.

Doing yoga in that kind of heat definitely takes some getting used to. It’s a whole new experience to be dripping… literally dripping…. You’re incredibly thirsty when you leave, though an unexpected side effect is that the only food that sounds appetizing is salad. Or juice. I begged Jimmie for Kool-aid after that second class.

I wasn’t sure what to expect for my third class. Turned out, I didn’t enjoy it. It was the hottest class, and the hardest I’d done. I sat in my car afterwards thinking it was unpleasant. I felt weird. Shaky, but not shaky. Then all of a sudden I felt the stirrings of anxiety. Next thing I know I’m bawling to John Legend’s song All of Me. It was an immediate release. I’d heard, and all of the instructors had said that certain poses bring up emotional baggage… but I’d never experienced it. I didn’t then, and I still don’t, know what triggered it. What emotions I needed to release. But release I did. 30 seconds of sobbing without tears…which was another new experience. And I felt the peace I’ve come to associate with yoga.

Unfortunately, I continued feeling weird for hours afterwards, and ended up having an anxiety attack. Not a pleasant experience. The next day I felt like I’d been beaten…though whether that was the yoga or the aftermath of the anxiety, I’m not sure.

My fourth class was disappointing. During savasana I found myself thinking it was a waste of time. I didn’t get much out of the class, and I was dreading the Basics workshop I’d signed up for right afterwards.

During the Basics workshop, I nailed Crow Pose. For the first time ever. I’m sure it wasn’t pretty (and I totally fell out of it), but I did it, and I held it, and people saw it and clapped for me. And the instructor told me congrats on my way out.

My "I JUST DID CROW POSE" face

My “I JUST DID CROW POSE” face

My fifth class was one I’d taken before. It felt just as good as it had the first time. I was sore, and tired, and didn’t attempt crow.

Finally, I tried an Ashtanga class. It was a bad yoga day for me…I’d been lazy for a week, and I was tight and uncoordinated. The class was awesome, and I wish I’d been in better shape for it.

As my month ended, I realized that I’d had a great time. I got to try new classes, new styles, and new poses. I improved, and I had my postures checked. I learned about yoga, and I learned about me.

I’m not sure yet how I feel about the heat aspect. In some ways it’s nice, but I hated the hottest class and never went back. It’s pretty intense, and I worry that it’s easy to get hurt. It’s also not very enjoyable if you haven’t eaten properly all day, if you’ve slacked on water, or if you’re just not feeling great. The heat makes everything worse. When you’ve done it all right though, the heat can be nice. It’s calming, and there’s just something about sweating like that that makes you feel cleaner all over (or maybe that’s the shower afterwards).

I’ve decided not to sign up for a membership, because it’s expensive and a little too far away. I’ll drop in from time to time, though – and now I have a whole new retinue of poses to work on.

Have you tried hot yoga? Did you like it? How did you celebrate National Yoga Month last month?

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