I know that yoga is one of those super trendy workouts that you sort of don’t want to try, simply because you are sick all your friends posting their braggy yoga-on-top-of-a-mountain photos on social media. Not that I don’t ever post any braggy photos, I assure you that I do, but my photos of course don’t annoy me. Anyway, so after many years of avoiding yoga, especially after trying it one time in college and being bored out of my mind, I decided to give it another go. I have had countless people tell me since I hurt my back that it could really help with the pain and healing, and of course there are those crazy yoga enthusiasts out there who think yoga cures everything, even breakup woes.
Now, I am not so optimistic to think yoga will solve all my problems, but I figure, if people are so crazy about it, it must have some benefits. Besides, it’s sort of like going to a psychic. You don’t really believe they can see your future, but it’s at least fun to see what they have to say. Not to mention, I got a really great deal (well, great deal in DC prices) for a month of unlimited hot yoga at a studio not too far from my house. So I figured, why not?
I have recently learned (via Google), that not all yoga classes are created equally. There are many types of yoga, and even if you sign up for hot yoga, that doesn’t mean the same thing at each studio. However, I am specifically taking Bikram yoga. Though I’m not entirely sure how to pronounce it, or even do it after one session, I can tell you that it is generally 1.5 hours of performing the same 26 postures and breathing exercises each time. It is supposed to help stretch, strengthen and calm you among other things.
Full disclosure, I have only been to one class so far, but I am hoping to make it after work tomorrow again. I was sort of terrified going in. The room is kept at a moist 105 degrees and I was told ahead of time not to eat beforehand or I might throw up. Not to mention, I heard that many people do it basically naked. I am pretty comfortable with myself and my body, but performing some twisty moves that I have never tried before in a hot room while strangers sweat all over the place was enough to make me a little bit nervous to say the least. But, I bought the Amazon local deal so I forced myself to go. Side note, I told my dad right beforehand where I was going, and his reaction was “You’re going to try hot yogurt? What’s that?!” Close, Dad, but not quite. 😉 (He’s so cute and funny).
I have to say, as a person who is always cold and regularly forces myself to leave a freezing cold office to go lap swim in a freezing cold pool, I quite enjoyed working out in a sauna. I was incredibly nervous that I might pass out or get sick during the class, as those are the horror stories that I’ve heard in the past, but I felt sort of great being so warm. I had no idea what I was doing for half the class as the instructor doesn’t demonstrate, so you have to look to other participants for guidance while she keeps repeating “pick one spot in the mirror and only look there.” Well instructor Rebecca, how I am supposed to only look at one spot and still twist myself into some semblance of the correct posture? But, I digress.
What did keep my eyes locked in one spot in the mirror was the unexpected fact that over half the class consisted of barely clad men. I was expecting a room full of extremely fit yogi women in sports bras and tiny shorts, which is not ideal, but workable. At least they would give me something to aspire to. Yogi men in tiny shorts is something that took me by surprise. Though I would normally love nothing more than to be in a room full of sweaty, half-naked men, this was not the time. I spent most of the class just trying to stay on my feet. I definitely did not need the added pressure of knowing these yogi men could see me if I fell over at any point!! However, one saving grace was that once you go into the studio, no one is supposed to talk. So even though I felt a little foolish being there for the first time and was sure I was going to make a fool of myself in front of these yogi men, I did not feel lonely whatsoever that I didn’t have a companion to talk to, because no one was allowed to talk! Score one for the semi-self-conscious single girl. And to top it off, I didn’t fall over. Not even once!
At the end of the class, Rebecca told us to focus only on exhaling during a breathing exercise. Everyone breathed out loudly and in sync for what felt like five minutes. I swear to you, this was the only point I would have been in danger of passing out. I could not for the life of me figure out when these people were breathing in, and even though I have been athletic my whole life, I don’t think my lung capacity is great. I found myself trying to keep up with them and just gulping in air whenever I ran out. I asked Rebecca after class when I was supposed to breathe in. She simply said “Don’t worry about that, just focus on exhaling and it will come naturally.” I’m not totally sure what that means, but perhaps it’s one of those secrets they only tell you after inducting you into the secret yoga society of America. Time will tell.
Overall, I had a really pleasant first experience and would recommend you try hot yoga if you’re looking to alleviate stress, increase your flexibility or feel the need to spend time in a room with absurdly sweaty strangers. I left feeling energized and pretty positive about myself and the experience, and I’m looking forward to getting better and better with time.
Go forth and have no fear, friends. Next thing you know, I’ll be the one posting yoga-on-a-mountain selfies.