December 5, 2012

Daily meltdown

Five minutes in and sweat is dripping out of every imaginable inch of my body – my forearms, the sides of my stomach, my calves – places I didn’t even realized produced sweat!

“Look back, fall back! More back!” prompts the teacher. There’s a loud clap, “Change!” My head leads the way, slowly bringing my backwardly bent body upright. I try not to put pressure on my lower back, my legs are shaking as I ever so slowly come back up and see my face in the mirror.

...which by this point is beet red and also drenched in sweat. “Oh man, I’m only 10 minutes into the 90 minute class… it seems like I’ve been in here an eternity.”

But I somehow always manage to survive. Today marked day 17 of a 30-day challenge of daily hot yoga.

Each day I go to the class knowing exactly what to expect. The room is always 105 degrees and 40% humidity. The poses are the same each day, done in the same order, for the same amount of time. But inside, my body feels dramatically different from the day before.

Most people think of Bikram yoga as a special little corner of hell. More often than not, the first class drives people into a dizzy, nauseated state leaving them wishing they had never walked into the hot room in the first place.

The class is stressful, it’s hard to stare at your own terrifically sweaty body for 90 minutes. Harder still is avoiding the inevitable comparison of those around you – old men, super fit young ladies, not-so-fit people trying to make a positive change in their life – you name the type, and odds are they’ll be right beside you, in front of or behind you, sweating more than is humanly possible.

It’s a mental battle to stay awake, focused, and moving during the class. The experience is wildly uncomfortable and it’s almost as if your mind retaliates for putting your body into a furnace for an hour and half. Crazy thoughts creep in and emotions tucked deep in your heart are released in your throat, and up out of your mouth in a quick fit of hysteria.

Then you’re on the floor again, for a moment, allowing your mind to cool off and your heart to chill out a bit. The feeling soon passes and whether you know it or not, you’re suddenly lighter.

The lightness doesn’t kick in until about a half hour after class. At which point you’re suddenly the highest high you can imagine, provided you downed at least a liter of water. Stress is gone, relaxation sets in, and the high lingers with every subsequent sip of water.

Tomorrow, I’ll wake up and do it all over again. And my body will thank me for it. My laundry budget, on the other hand, will not be so grateful.

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