Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Some Like It Hot!

I felt it was good karma showing me a sign. A small plastic one, in fact, outside a Bikram hot yoga studio reading “ 10 classes for $10”. Wow, with a deal like that I could reach all the way to Nirvana without stretching my wallet. I took a leap of faith and signed up.

I try to live by the motto, “Never let them see you sweat”, so when I arrived for my first class, I planned to play it cool. I'd obviously never taken hot yoga before. The room was heated hotter then Hades, somewhere north of 105 degrees. A few minutes of warm-up stretching, and I was already vaporizing. I tried to pass it off as my “aura”.

The instructor said that we'd start with some breathing. “Cool”, I thought. I've been doing that on my own for years! But as he clapped out a quick count for us to draw deep cleansing breaths in - while raising our elbows to our ears and pushing our chins back with our fists - I suddenly struggled to remember how to inhale and exhale.

At that point I should have read the Sanskrit writing on the wall. This wasn't going to be one of those relaxing yoga classes with rhythmic drumming and Yanni playing softly in the background. No, this was hot yoga from Hell and my chakras were in for a quite a shock.

We were told to gaze only at ourselves in the mirror. I tried to believe that the chubby red-faced reflection staring back at me was merely the result of an unfortunate combination of unflattering lighting and a “fat mirror”. However, from the corner of my eye, I noticed a lineup of lithe beauties effortlessly contorting their hot “yoga bodies” into positions that seemed to defy the laws of nature. You could have put a “1” in front of any of their dress sizes and mine would still be considerably larger. I was sweating - they were perspiring. I also noticed that the lighting and mirrors seemed to be working just fine for them.

“Aha”, I panted, as I spotted a more mature woman across the room. Perhaps a little “Sweatin' to the Oldies” would pry me from my personal pity party. But I could only watch in awe, as this svelte senior wrapped her left leg around her right, at least three times, while twisting her arms into some Escher inspired pose. With perfect balance, she lowered her self to the ground on the tip of one toe. Blessed with the flexibility of a Popsicle stick and the balance of a sack of kittens, I stood clutching the bar on the back wall for dear life, wobbling like Jell-o as I simply tried to stand on one foot.

It wasn't until we went into the “Wind Removing Pose”, meant to stimulate digestion and massage the colon, that I realized perhaps the big bowl of raisin bran was not the breakfast of choice before a yoga class.

As the session came to an end, it seemed that my kundalini hadn't risen, but rather melted into a puddle on the floor. However, I had gained a higher understanding of the term “sweat equity”. If the human body is comprised of 75% water, I estimated then that at least half of me was now being soaked up by the Tinkerbell towel covering my soggy mat. And yet, even with that impressive water weight loss, the darn mirror still made me look fat.

Ultimately, I enjoyed the classes and I felt great afterwards. However, next week I'm trying something new! I'm checking out a slenderizing body wrap spa that just opened up in town. They guarantee that I'll be at least 6 inches slimmer as I kick back and watch Dr. Phil on TV. Now that's a workout I can handle…no sweat!


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