On Life and Love

Questionable Decisions: Hot Yoga

I made a questionable decision this afternoon.

After coffee with a yogi friend, I was inspired to start climbing back on the yoga horse. Most yoga studios in my area only have Saturday morning classes, so I had very few options for something in the afternoon.

Whatever. I was feeling brave. I signed up for an all-levels Vinyasa hot class at a studio I’d never been to. Ninety minutes.

Like I said, questionable. But I knew that if I stalled until Sunday or next week that I would stall forever. The fact that I got anxious about going between noon and 14:00 vindicated my decision to go.

I knew I’d be taking it easy during the class. For one thing, it’s 100 degrees outside and the class was going to be 99 degrees. Too hot. For another, I’ve maybe been to yoga twice my shoulder surgery last summer, and they were probably slow flow or yin classes. Lastly, I’m not in great shape right now; it’s even been a couple of weeks since I lifted weights.

I was feeling brave as hell.

I took “All levels” to mean “okay for beginners, but with some fancy stuff for people who do headstands on reg.” Vinyasa, though… Meh. Never my favorite.

My first clue that things were going to be rough was the fact that people were warming up before class started. I thought that’s what the first 10 minutes of class are for, especially if you’ve got 90 minutes. Folks were working out in this hot-ass room before things even got started. So I lowered my expectations of my own performance a little bit. (Yeah, I know, you’re not supposed to compare in yoga, but I was really nervous, and I was by myself.)

Second clue was that people were engaging in rituals I’d never seen before, namely that everybody had towels or yogitoes on their mats (except me), and everybody was spritzing them with water. I still don’t know what that was for, but my guess is the water helps the yogitoes stick where your hands and feet plant for things like downward dog.

Then class started.

It was fast. It was hard. The instructions were very clear, I liked what he was aiming for, and the flow built very well. (“All levels” means “vigorous as hell”, by the way.) In all the yoga classes I’ve taken, I’ve never heard of “bird of paradise”, much less seen folks move from side angle to that. Quite beautiful.

For a variety of reasons (see above about my fitness level and out of practiceness), I need more than half a breath to get into a position and find my balance, and you can be damn sure I need to breathe harder than my nose alone can provide. And even after the surgery, chaturangas aren’t fun. They are never fun.

The poor instructor was really excited when the whole class was in sync, too. Except there was me and one person who had never taken yoga before at all (bless his damn heart), screwing up the flow. It was like that time I went to an evening of contra dancing.

I made it through 45 minutes of the class before I couldn’t shake the light-headedness enough to make it worth continuing, especially with all the airplaning and half mooning going on. I respectfully bowed out and toddled on home.

Questionable. Decision.

But I’m glad I went. In many ways, it wasn’t what I wanted or what I needed, but on the other hand… I know I can do it now. My shoulder is tired and tight, but not any more than it would be after some upper body weightlifting. My hands and feet hurt from all the chaturangas, but I know that gets better very quickly with practice. My mind was taken off some difficult social stuff I’ll be facing soon.

Now I just need to make my schedule align with the studio within walking distance where I’m more comfortable with the instructor and the classes and keep on it.