My first time… at Hot Yoga

It is shocking when I first walk in. Hot enough that my breath begins to shorten and my lungs get tight. I sit next to my friend who has set up my spot beside her and shot her a look after noticing the thermometer – a whopping 45 degrees Celsius. My eyes say it all. She nods in agreement. We can’t actually speak as the others are silent on their backs with their eyes closed. Hot yoga – my first and probably last session.

I have been to a regular yoga class before but never in a room over double the average room temperature. I begin to find a normal breathing pattern again and think I am actually becoming used to the unnaturally hot air, when she enters – 5 minutes late I might add. The instructor, thin and lean of course. She begins giving instructions: “raise to seated position, bring hands in front of knees, exhale step feet back to downward dog, inhale lower to plank, exhale raise to upward dog, inhale right leg up, exhale bring right foot forward, inhale to warrior two, exhale lean back, inhale left leg over right leg, twist, raise right leg”wait what? Faster and faster she spits out instructions of where to place our limbs. I can feel the residue layering my epidermis as a trickle of sweat plops on the mat below me. My head starts to throb, like when you’ve been crying for hours. The kind of cry that stems from something simple yet somehow leads to other thoughts that also make you sad, so why not cry about them while you’re already crying? Seems reasonable.

I find myself in downward dog position after twisting and turning in directions I didn’t know were possible. My hands are glistening with sweat, slipping inch my inch as I start lowering to the ground – “hold this position for 5 more breaths” says the instructor. But I will be on the ground by then, flat on my face, I think. I adjust myself back to where my hands started but then find a pain emanating from my wrists. I can’t help but think about how unnatural this is. I give up. I fall to child’s pose, my favourite position. Shins flat, knees wide, chest and forehead resting on the ground, arms spread out in front of me. At first I care that I’m the only one doing this, showing that it’s my first time, but then as I had previously given up, I do so once again, considering it now my own practice. I lazily form into a couple more poses as the long, wet, hot minutes drag on, succumbing to the pressure of fitting in with the group. I can barely stop thinking about speed walking to the front door to catch the cool evening breeze. Finally we are nearing the end, it’s nap time – or at least that’s what I call the resting period at the end of a practice. I lay on my back trying to take myself far away, but I remain in the room, praying to God there is disinfectant spray to wipe down the puddles that have formed beneath me. I do drift away for a second, imagining the fresh air that would replace the stench of used hockey equipment surrounding my personal space at this very moment, but alas, time to end our session. With a collective “Ommm” and “Namaste”, we conclude our 1.25 hour hot yoga class. I am grateful for the bottle and rag being passed around to sanitize my mat but can’t get out of here fast enough. It is time. Time to take my body back to its normal state. I step out into the hall to an instant chill. Dammit, now I’m freezing. Do you ever notice how there really isn’t a perfect temperature? I think the closest I have come to perfect is 23 degrees, sunny, no humidity, slight breeze – But back to me. The chill is slowly leaving and my sweat starts to disappear. We walk to our separate cars, small talk on the way. I feel a lot less wet in most areas, except for my bottom. My bottom is still soaked. Must be the type of leggings I am wearing.

Hmm, next time I’ll wear shorts.

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