Yoga people are always so…fit.
It’s so annoying.
Oh, and they’re flexible, too.
And long and lean.
And… they have sexy sculpted abs. Me want.
Yoga is a booming $10 billion dollar business in the U.S., with more than 20-million Americans buying into the 5,000 year old practice. Even Hollywood heavyweights are jumping on board in an effort to stay lightweights, like Gisele Bundchen, Gwenyth Paltrow, Sting, Adam Levine (Adam, call me!), Madonna, Jen Aniston (will you PLEASE just get married), Jessica Alba, Miranda Kerr (eat something!) and Haley Berry. Imagine rockin one of those bodies.
For the past few years, HOT yoga is the rage. Well, not that yoga people actually have rage, but it IS getting serious attention and is recognized by the fitness industry. I had to try it, whether it killed me, embarrassed me, or wow’d me, I was in.
Developed by former Indian yoga champion Bikram Choudhury, HOT yoga involves (26) specific poses which systematically aid the body in movement, flexibility and digestion. The class is usually 75 minutes long and takes place in a large room, heated to 100-105 degrees. In theory, HOT yoga circulates fresh, rich-oxygenated blood to every part of the body, which is believed to reverse the aging process, eliminate toxins, and restore the body to a perfect balance of proper weight, flexibility, muscle tone and movement.
Ok. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Great bennies. Look, I’m not looking to be perfect, I just want to creak and crackle less, be more flexible, and look hewed. Is that asking too much? Ever see a tired yoga person? A stressed one? A plus-sized one? No. No. And, likely not.
So late last Sunday afternoon, bored from a fifth day of consecutive rain, I spontaneously, and bravely, strolled into one of the best HOT yoga classes in Atlanta.
I arrived 15 minutes early in black cotton yoga capris and chakra razorback tank, figuring if I couldn’t wear my staple 5-inch heels, I might as well look good…looking bad. I’d never done yoga before and was clueless as to what to expect, if I’d like it, OR if I could even do it. And I don’t like being barefoot unless it’s on a sun-kissed beach.
After all, I know my limits, and I’m not exactly limber and graceful. More like a duck than a swan.
I quietly unrolled my own mat near the exit door, in case I had to make a quick exit, so as not to disturb the early arrival yoginis, already parked in their spots, entranced in snow angel or seated crossed legged positions.
Meditation? Really? They really DO that here? Awe man, this is gonna be tough. I’ve got too many thought bubbles swirling in my head.
People offered soft hellos as the room filled as quickly as Sunday morning church five minutes before service. Silence abruptly fell as Enya’s thin frame filled the room with a ballerina’s chasse. Unprompted, the group assumed the seated- legs-crossed-with-open-hands-position, eyes closed. Mine were wide open.
Wow. This chic is BIG time serious. I bet the only stress she has is petting her cats. She probably eats chia seeded yogurt with kale drinks like I eat chocolate chip cookies with Diet Coke. Annoying.
Enya’s confident waltz and smile were complemented by a comforting chant-like cadence.
“This hour is your time to tune out the universe, settle the ocean-like waves that upset you and keep your mind busy. Allow the waters to be still…as through the stillness you can see the bottom clearly… reach to your center and find your true self.”
What ARE you talking about Enya-without-a-fat-giblet-on-your-body? Seriously, spit it out. WHAT are you trying to say? I’m here for revelations of calm and a skinny body. NOT to pay attention to what I’m always trying to avoid, inside my universe, which is ….. ME.
“Breathe in. B-r-e-a-t-h-e, out. There. Ahhh, peaceful breathes. Yes, we love peaceful breathes.“
Peaceful breathes? Is she serious? Who comes up with this stuff?
Trying not to laugh – assured everyone else was too – I opened one eye to peer the room – only to see my eye was the only eye peering the room. I quickly shut it and shut UP, an instead focused on the soft sultry tempo in the background.
Okay D. Just do what you’re told. I know you hate being told what to do, but just shut. Listen for a change. You need to l-i-s-t-e-n. Be present. Be in the moment. You’ll learn from this.
0:00 – 20:00 – Enya began class by instructing us to comfortably circle our heads and shoulders, which ironically happened at the exact same time my curiosity got the best of me. Who are these people? I had to know. To my left, was a young version of ‘Jackie Chan’ with 12-pack ripped abs and long silky black hair. A professional, no DOUBT. To my right, ‘Cameron Diaz’’ sat comfortably in long and lean statuesque confidence. On one kitty corner, was ‘Kelly Ripa.’ Kelly obviously eats AIR. On the other corner was shirtless protein addict, ‘Tim Tebow.’ Filling out the rest of the room, male and female runners, swimmers, ice skaters, and a few Sports Illustrated could be’s and Victoria Secret wanna bees. All had 0% body fat. At least that’s what I saw. Yours truly’s resume lists high school cheerleader, Pop Warner cheerleading coach, and tossing a football and baseball, like any mom would, back in the day.
SO ANNOYED! These people have NO idea what it’s like to be 4’11” and be obsessed with chocolate and carbs. I bet they all had protein shakes for breakfast, salmon salad for lunch, and chicken and broccoli for dinner. And I’m sure they always eat before seven, get a full night’s sleep and never had a traffic ticket because they’re never in a hurry. Which by the way, I’m starving. When can we eat? What? Still another hour and twelve minutes to go??! This cleanse the mind thing is exhausting.
I’m happy to report MUCH to my relief…the first 20 minutes of my first HOT yoga class were completely rejuvenating. Gentle yet deliberate moves were fun, enjoyable, easy, calming. Even though the room was warm, the humidity made it bearable which made breathing deep, but relaxing. It was invigorating, calming, peaceful. My breathe was in sync with my body, I wasn’t overheated and I was enjoying myself. I LOVED IT! My mind was at peace not thinking about the family and friends I miss back home, work, my kids, travel, wedding plans I have to make in case I get a boyfriend, retirement, what new car to buy, what’s on the grocery list, guilt about the chocolate chip cookies I ate two hours before class…nothing. It was amazing.
Wow! I can’t believe I’m really doing this! Why didn’t I do this years ago!! This is so cool! I think I’ll become a yoga instructor! Yes, that’s exactly what I’ll do. I’m going to do this every night of the week. This is so refreshing, relaxing. Oh wow! Look how I move my body…so graceful…I could probably have auditioned for Black Swan…my friend Bella and Misty Copeland make graceful moves look so easy. It IS easy!!! I LOVE YOGA!!!!! Yoga is my life!! Ohhhhmmmm….
20:00-40:00 – As I fully expected, and was obviously prepared for now with my new attitude, the pace picked up about 20 minutes in. Yeah. Things got a little more intense as Enya started posing us in positions like eagles, warriors, downward dogs, triangles and trees. Up. Down. Over here. No. Wait, over there. Lay, stand, sit. Turn. Twist. B-r-e-a-t-h-e. Struggling a bit through the sweat beads frosting my body, I parroted whatever Cameron, Kelly, Tim and Jackie did. I felt like Ellen Degeneres faking the Fox Trot on Dancing with the Stars. I was laughing at myself, despite feeling clunky and lost. I could feel my body heating up, burning fat, getting lean-ish. I was proud I wasn’t grunting like some – meaning men – who weren’t as flexible as me.
Wow, yoga really is a workout! Man, I’m sweating for real! Keep it moving, D. This is good. Good. You’re burning fat. Oh, that’s a ballet move. Point your toes! Hey, they do this in Olympic ice skating! Ha! This is a Nadia Comaneci move? HOLD? What do you mean HOLD?? I’m not an ostrich. No wonder yoga helps the digestive system! I want to puke!! But it feels good! Hey, when can we sit? I’m hungry. Water? Are we almost done yet?
40:00-60:00 – I’m sorry to say, the next 20 minutes were a blur. I tried to stand…still…holding my breath…as directed…deeply…while contorting…limbs…like Twister…on a slipe and slide…needing water….sit…backbend…shaking sweat…like a bathed dog…soaking…dripping…twisting…up…over…top…bottom…cloth?…anyone …to wipe stinging sticky mascara sweat…from my eyes… while my body….twirls like a ‘helicopter’ off a maple tree…tree position…warrior…downward dog…breathe? Now?
What? Where? Are we up or down? I can’t see? How did Jackie get his leg over there? Put what where? I can’t see! Help! Water. I need water. Ok, breathe. Is this legal? My eyes! Ouch, burning. How does Kelly stand on …her…elbows? Freak. Water…I need water? Where’s the cloth? Why is this puddle on my mat? Is that…is that a helicopter I hear? Yes! First responders! I hear the blades…pulsating…oh wait, that’s my heart…I’m melting. Melllllting…
60:00-75:00 – And then — it was over.
Somehow, I was lying in a wading pool of my own sweat. Hair drenched. Clothes soaked. Arms soaked. Legs. Yet, I felt so clean. Inspired. Refreshed. Thin. Flat. Strong.
“Relax. Breathe. Roll side to side. And b-r-e-a-t-h-e. Feel your universe. Close your eyes and connect with your soul.”
Wow! I did it. I really DID it. I don’t know what I did, but I feel like a MILLION bucks. What? I’m sorry, what was that?
“Good job, grasshopper,” Jackie said with a smile.
4:30 p.m. – This Sunday
I’ll be back. Ten minutes early. Back in my spot.