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Yoga is one of those good-for-you things I just can't quite get into. In most classes I've taken, I like it for about 15 minutes and then become unbelievably bored. I've also spent the last 20-something years of my life avoiding extreme temperatures. So how did I end up in a hot yoga class? Entirely by accident, because such is my life.
Some context: I've been trying very hard to get into yoga because I know there are so many ways I can benefit from it, so when I was invited to try out a class at Modo Yoga in Los Angeles, I was game.
I roll up to the studio woefully unprepared for what's to come, even though I'm wearing my most yoga-ish outfit of super-soft (and definitely not see-through) Sweaty Betty Urdhva Reversible Yoga Leggings. Bring it on, chaturanga, I think, like a fool who isn't about to accidentally stumble into a 100+ degree room.
I walk through the doors with all the confidence of Michael Phelps racing a CGI great white shark. When I check in, the instructor at the front desk asks if I've ever done hot yoga before.
I cock my head, wondering why she's asking me about hot yoga. "No?"
Then it hits me. My stomach drops the same way it does when I get to a really intense scene in Game of Thrones. This is a hot yoga class. I try to disguise my panic/stupidity as she explains what the class will entail. At this point, I could still leave, but I'm not a quitter. I decide to go for it. I grab a towel, wait until the last possible minute to enter the classroom, then quietly set up my yoga mat in the back. The air is humid, warm. This isn't so bad, I think. I can sit in this for an hour.
Five minutes in, everyone else is glistening with a light sheen while I have sweat dripping down my face and into my eyes. Cool.
Ten minutes in and the slightest movement of my body sends little droplets flying everywhere.
Thirty minutes in and the towel I'm using over my yoga mat is damp. Oh my God, it's so hot. Am I going to pass out? What if I pass out?
Someone leaves the studio in the middle of the class—which you're not supposed to do because it lets in cool air—and I turn toward that cool breeze like a dandelion to the sun.
At one point I just sit and focus on my breathing, because the heat is making me feel light-headed. (This is totally normal.) It passes and I continue with the flow, as they say (I think).
Near the end, my body finally starts to adjust to the heat. I focus on my breathing; the heat is distracting from all the other thoughts in my head, and once that fades to the background I'm able to actually quiet my mind. This is kind of amazing, because my brain is always going in a million different directions and regular yoga has never helped quiet it. I've never experienced even a whiff of that meditative state until now.
I stumble out of the class sweaty (so, so sweaty), exhausted, yet oddly energized—only to recall that I had thought this would be a regular yoga class and therefore only brought a shower wipe and no shower shoes. (I live 45 minutes away from the studio and work five minutes away, so going home isn't really an option.) Oh, and I left my clothes in the car.
I pick up my phone with my slippery hands and text my boss, "I accidentally took a hot yoga class this morning. I thought it was regular yoga. I am so sweaty, it's disgusting, I'll just hang out in a conference room today."
The instructor tells me to drink lots of water throughout the day, and for once I remember to follow directions—because you sweat so much in hot yoga, it's easy to get dehydrated. And even though I'm sensitive to the heat (seriously, I can't be outside in hot weather for too long because I have a propensity toward heat stroke), I feel fine.
Later, I get an amazing night's sleep—which I credit to the yoga class because it rarely happens, and to the fact that it helped me turn off my mind. So next time I decide to get my om on, I'll be doing it in a super-hot room (and I'll remember my shower shoes because I don't know if you got this, but you get very sweaty).