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Furnace Yoga & the Year of the Yes

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Quick jump to how it ended before I begin lest anyone think that my new hot yoga friends did me wrong. They did not. They were incredibly kind and sweaty and encouraging and flexible and supportive and the instructor checked on me religiously. Though hot yoga is likely not to become a regular on my calendar, now that a few weeks have passed … I obviously want to give it another go to see if I can complete the class in an actual yoga pose rather than as a human stream of molten lava crawling towards the exit.

And now, back to the beginning.

I’m not sure what I just went through, but I’m sure I should be documenting it. It absolutely deserves to be written down, it’s just that I mostly cannot lift my arms from their resting spot upon my sweat-soaked thighs. My arms? Also sweat-soaked. There are, in fact, zero body parts that are not sweat-soaked including my fingernails and skin tags. Even the weird chin hair that only appears once a month is pasted to my neck, too full of liquid to stand.

All this, hours after leaving class.

I smelled like a goat. Or maybe smelling like a goat would be an upgrade. I smelled more like a goat that was eaten by a horse and then shit out days later, spread across a pig pasture, rolled in for weeks, and then deposited on the floor of a barn during a heatwave.

It started out quite innocently.

My niece casually asked if I wanted to go to yoga with her and I enthusiastically said “Yes!” I’d done yoga before, after all. Not a lot of it, but enough to display a decent down dog or pigeon pose. Though I am midway through a recommended ‘year off from intense exercise’, well, yoga isn’t intense, right?

I was never called upon to show my down dog.

Instead, this class began with a warm-up that included sitting in imaginary chairs while perched on tippy toes followed by a gentle request to wrap one leg around the other to form a standing pretzel pose.

“Balancing on one foot, bend the opposite leg behind and around. Now insert your left pinky toe through your right nose-hole. Reeeeach. Reach into your mouth-hole … grabbing your toe, aaaaaaaaand feel your body open further.”

This wasn’t even the worst part. I stupidly thought the discovery of a ninety-minute class (twice the length of any I’d attended prior) was going to be the worst part, but only because I knew I’d start thinking about my shopping list before reaching the halfway point. Alas, its length was not the worst part either.

Hot Yoga. I had signed up for Hot Yoga.

Sure, I’d heard of hot yoga before. Sure, it intrigued me. Sure, I discovered this just minutes before the bell, and, still, I approached my borrowed mat with the confidence of one who had NO IDEA WHAT THE FUCK they were about to endure.

As introductions were made, someone asked if I’d had electrolytes. Sir, I don’t even know how to spell that word.

Seeing my confusion, I heard someone else say “I’m going to get you some electrolytes – that might help a bit.” What? Help? With what!!??

In case you’ve missed all the same strong hints I was given to run like the wind, let me lay them out:

  • 90-minute class
  • At the bottom of an active volcano
  • With complimentary electrolytes

Three minutes into the session and I realized that I’d come across a whole room of people with abnormally long arms and impeccable balance. How else were they able to achieve and hold these warm-up poses?

Oh, and also, they evidently failed to see the value in, well, air.

While I’d never considered attempting criss-cross-apple-sauce propped up by only my knuckles as I was hoisted into a pizza oven, I suspected that I would soon welcome the chance.

Most of the participants were dressed appropriately for a room set to a balmy 297 degrees and four-thousand percent humidity. Most. The lone nonpartisan? Me. I wore the equivalent of a hot yoga snowsuit: a T-shirt and shorts. Five minutes in and I was contemplating removing it all. I would have done so if I thought it would have earned me an invitation to take my nakedness elsewhere. It’s just that these maniacs were too nice to ask anyone to leave.

Ten minutes in and I was positive that all water had seeped from my body. Seeped? Poured. Even my eyes were sweating—MY EYES. Or maybe I was crying. I’m not even sure. Do eyeballs sweat? Hello?

Excellent … you have relieved yourself of the burden of fluids. Your water content is so low that your eyeballs will transform into tiny raisins shielded only by lids that a normal person might confuse with prunes.”

Would the cool down include a pot of hot tea poured over our heads? And when would we get there?

I made a few attempts to check the time before realizing that I had no idea when the class had actually started. I tried to backtrack my day … I’d gotten picked up at 8:30 am… it was a thirty-minute car ride … then we came into this room and now … fuck, my watch has overheated … wait, what?

Eventually, I acquiesced and plopped down with a splash on the mat. Ah yes, there it was. I dunked myself into a pigeon pose: the only way to look yogish while trying to grab as much of the cooler floor air as possible.

Eventually, I made a feeble attempt to rejoin the class but found the air at standing height was even hotter after discovering the glorious floor air. Submerged again, I dismissed any plans of future poses and began to cuddle my electrolytes.

You are now a living sprinkler. Your limbs are slippery like an eel. You will have zero chance of grabbing anything without suction cup fingers”

At some point, the class ended.

I knew this because the mirage portraying a door suddenly swung open revealing … dry freedom. Be cool, I told myself while planning my sprint. Wait, was I hearing my love language? Were these people offering words of congratulations and encouragement or had I completed the slip to doused delirium?

God damn it, yes. I paused, desperate to concentrate on the accolades while simultaneously concentrating on not throwing up. These people were so stinking nice! Also, could we not discuss my performance in the lukewarm lobby?

The next hours were a blur as I bounced between drinking water directly from the faucet and trying to talk myself into a cold shower prior to collapsing into bed. As I worked through those benchmarks and began drifting off to a well-deserved forty winks … wait, why were my thoughts drifting to words like “I should try that again”?

I mean, no, not right away, of course. But, maybe eventually.

Maybe after a few practice pretzel rounds inside the chilly belly of a working furnace.

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