I decided to go try hot yoga for two reasons:
1) I was curious ever since my former manager had described it as, “An out-of-body experience… I lost myself whilst planking, and somewhere in the heat I found a new me” (or something like that).
2) My brother Andy had bought us vouchers for my birthday.
Here’s what happened:
Our teacher introduces herself as Miss Yoga Bandana, or at least thats what it sounds like to me. We begin class by laying the mats and setting a good intention. She suggests ‘Gratitude’ but I’ve never done hot yoga (or any yoga) before so my intention is ‘To Not Look Like A Twat.’ We start out in downward dog which is where you discover that you have unusually tight shoulders and see-through shorts. An upside-down glance toward the mirror informs me that wearing tight nylon without boxers was unwise as when I bend over you can definitely see too much. Also, upon adopting yet another unflattering pose, several pubes have worked their way out of the top of my shorts like the first blades of grass through frosty March soil. My hopes that no one has noticed my tightness problem lessen when I see that the lady behind me is staring at my bum. This woman is about seventy years old and her hair is as long as her shorts are short. No bra. Does she not realise I can see her in the front mirror? She immediately answers this question by catching my eye in said mirror and refusing to look away for several poses. I try to avoid her gaze to no avail; she has a strange magnetism.
Now we come to my least favorite part of the Sun Salutation: Chattaranga. For those of you who don’t know, Chattaranga is where your hands are shoulder width apart, you lower yourself from plank until your elbows are half bent and hold yourself still, hovering a few inches above the ground forever. It could be likened to the lowest push up position or waterboarding. Finally, we make our way back to downward dog, the “resting” position (resting?!).
At this point I am going out of my mind with physical and mental awkwardness and would gladly give the enemy national secrets to make it something familiar. I glance over at my brother who has dispersed at least two gallons of sweat as evidenced by the large circles in the fabric surrounding his armpits, neck and most obviously, crotch. He is definitely in the lead for sweatiest yogi. It’s probably been about thirty minutes. I wait another 5 before looking at the clock because I want to be pleased when I see how much time has passed. I finally allow myself to look: we are seven minutes into class.
Yogabandyanna tells us to relax completely. The lady who’s been staring me at obeys instantly, letting out a fart. And this is no ordinary fart. It’s an I’m-a-vegan-and-get-all-of-my-protein-from-beanburgers fart. Silent but very deadly. I know it’s her because it smells like the way she’s looking at me. I take comfort that Andy is here too and I’m not alone in finding the fart extremely funny.
Next comes the Eagle, where you wrap your left leg around the right one nine times and your arms mirror this up top. To no one’s surprise I can’t do it. I tell myself it’s because I’m too sweaty and can’t get a grip, but deep down I know it’s because of my kankles. My huge, Scottish ankles (evolved after centuries of pulling carts of neaps and tatties through the mud) don’t have the usual tapering, it’s just a leg with a foot attached. I once dreamt I was at the doctors for a sprain; he said “Wow! That is one swollen ankle.” It was the other one.
Bendiyogiandanna tells us to take a deep breath and I do. Right on queue, beanburger lady out-relaxes herself. Between the moisture that’s fogging up the windows, the 100+ degree heat and the smell, I have a sudden realisation that this is what it feels like to be inside a fart. Except not an ordinary fart cloud where you would probably just take a nap, this is a torture chamber fart cloud where not only are you trapped but are forced to hold excruciating positions for years at a time. I believe I’ve heard of such a place, they call it Hell.
As I step back into the downward dog my back foot slips, throwing me entirely off-balance. Each individual limb tries to grip the slippery mat so now I look less like a downward dog and more like a puppy on roller skates. I think back to my intention to not look like a twat. The teacher notices and she adjusts me, shifting my pelvis forward and holding it in place. At first I feel violated, then I relax, realising that someone else is actually doing the work for me, then I begin to really enjoy it and now I’m wondering if we’re more than friends. As if holding my pose, holding my breath and trying to avoid beanburger lady’s gaze isn’t enough, now I’m having a relationship crisis.
My new girlfriend instructs us to choose our favorite pose from today’s class and “find our full expression” so I snuggle into the foetal position.
I suddenly realise that this Om Shanti song has been playing for 17 minutes and the only two words in the song are ‘shanti’ and ‘om’ arranged in various creative ways such as ‘om shanti’, ‘shanti om’, and most excitingly ‘om om shanti.’ As it’s playing, we assume the aptly named ‘corpse pose.’ I close my eyes and the ancient Indian art works its magic; I relax beyond thought. Beanburger lady follows suit.
Now is my least favorite part of class. Everyone chants “Ooooommmmmmmmm” together slowly three times because they haven’t heard enough of that word in the ‘om shanti’ portion of class. I’m not a fan of this part because everyone chants “Om” with meaning but they don’t actually know what “Om” means. Later, after a Google search, I find it’s actually Sanskrit for ‘Gullible Brit.’
Finally, we “Namaste”‘ our way out of there, lugging the sweat soaked yoga mats which are now as heavy as tires (but not as sanitary.) When we’re home I head straight for the bathroom where I strip off, leap into the best shower ever, towel down, and step onto my real girlfriend’s scales. I’ve lost five pounds! (Please don’t respond saying it was all sweat. I don’t believe you.) This gratifying moment makes the whole class worthwhile. Although it will be too awkward to return any time soon, I can’t wait for two years from now, when my instant weight loss and yogi’s high are the only thing I remember about this experience (and the people at the front desk have forgotten Andy and I). Until then, I’ll Namast’ay in bed.