As the sweat trickles down my red face and transforms from a slight drip into a downward pour, a single thought reverberates throughout my acutely drenched head, screaming much louder than the soft, supposed meditative music.
I’ve been betrayed by those I trusted.
While in downward dog, I’m presented with a taste of the ocean, as the beads of perspiration slowly tiptoe into my mouth, then crawl up my nose, and finally cascade in one elegant drop to my puddle-covered, borrowed (but really accidentally stolen) blue mat.
The beautiful, lovely ocean.
The ocean is nowhere as hot as this godforsaken room.
This was my second time experiencing hot yoga, and I was not enjoying it.
Peer pressured into trying regular yoga by my friends two weeks earlier, I had had a nice, easy time. I surprised myself, doing so well that I became convinced I was a natural. I was told (quite rudely, may I add) that the class we had just finished was for beginners, but there was no getting past my dense, dry scalp. I was an expert. I was a yogi. Seeing myself as the yoga master I so rightfully was, I took them up on their offer to try hot yoga only a few days later. I entered the room with a belly full of water, grinning, confident in my abilities.
This is gonna be a breeze. I’m about to be easy, breezy, beautiful, Covergirl in this room.
Hot yoga is actually the opposite of a breeze. In fact, it is very hot. Very, very hot. Bikram yoga is defined as “a type of hatha yoga characterized by a set series of postures and breathing exercises, performed in a room heated to a very high temperature.” The definition leaves out sweat, but there will be a large quantity of sweat in this form of yoga. In simpler terms, it’s regular yoga mixed in with slightly harder stretches in a heavily heated room. It’s recommended not to wear much clothing. The temperature is slowly increased, causing you to really sweat. I mean, the first thirty seconds you’re in there you’re sweating, and that’s before the yoga even starts.
My first time trying hot yoga was at a tiny little place known as Hot House Yoga. Hot House resides in a strip of stores right off West Broad Street near Pemberton Rd. Don’t be fooled by it’s generic yellow sign. While it may not look like much on the outside, it’s a whole different world on the inside. Imagine if the word organic was a place. That would be Hot House. The minute you step through the door, you’re greeted with a smile and a sign-in sheet. It’s obvious everybody there, employees and customers, are happy and want to be there. The room is air conditioned and makes you feel safe. The price per session is 20 dollars. Now, I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking the same thing.
A little pricey for yoga.
It’s worth it, and compared to other places, it’s relatively cheap. There’s a homey little fridge offering a healthier option to keep you refreshed, if coconut water is more your cup of tea. Grab a towel, and head to the bathrooms to get changed. The bathrooms are nicer than my kitchen. They have mints in jars in there. Not the cheap kind, either. I’m talking LifeSavers Wint-O-Green, baby. Deposit any clothes you’re not wearing in your own personal locker and head on out. All towels, mats, and blocks are offered if you need them, so if you do need them, grab them and enter the yoga room.
Immediately after opening the door, you’re hit with a blast of hot air. The barrier standing in between you and the heat of the sun has been broken. That familiar feeling of safety is gone. Probably evaporated. However, once you realize that this is in fact normal, you notice how calming the room is. Spacious, dimly lit, and humming with real meditative music, the room relaxes you. Scope out a spot, put your mat and towel down, and begin to stretch. An instructor shows and tells you what to do, and if you have no idea what you’re doing like I did, they’ll help you in the friendliest way possible. And then it begins. Prepare to drown in your sweat for the next hour.
For the first ten minutes we performed relatively easy stretches. Beginning in child’s pose, and finally coming to ragdoll, we’re brought to a stand. At this point I was already soaked and embarrassed. I quickly scanned the room and my embarrassment evaded, because everybody was soaked. The mirror in front of me revealed the man positioned two mats behind me had left his shirt on. That poor fool. It was only a matter of time before the mirror once more revealed the entire front of his shirt had changed into a much darker shade of green. Ten minutes in, doing simple poses, in the heat of hell.
After another ten minutes, however, I was loving it. At one point, I just accepted the heat, and it became easier. I felt the endorphins rushing down my body, and the true effects of hot yoga began to settle in. I was at peace, and in a semi-meditative state. I very well could have been having a minor heat stroke, but either way, it was a good feeling. After another twenty-five minutes of stretching and performing poses, we came to a rest, and spent the final fifteen minutes meditating. That’s where Hot House hooks you. I felt more at peace lying on my back in that heat than I ever have before.
Hot House Yoga does an incredible job of taking something that could be exceptionally terrible and making it incredible. While it may be a little challenging at first, the outcome is always the same. You feel good and accomplished. I also have to commend Hot House for this, because I went to another hot yoga center that shall remain unnamed. This second place, was my second time experiencing hot yoga, and the experience that was briefly described in the beginning of this article. What I failed to mention is that they did not provide mats or towels, so unbeknownst to me I swiped a mat from the “Buy Bin” and used that. After I had realized what I had done, a sense of dread overcame my happy yoga mood. The guilt that filled my body must have transpired into sweat, because I sweat out my entire body weight and then some. I was slipping on my sweat. There was no towel to put down, and I literally slipped on my mat every time I tried to do a pose because of sweat. I had to leave the room, get paper towels, and wipe down my mat only to have to repeat the process ten minutes later. If you want to try hot yoga, which you should, go to Hot House.
All photos By Matt Colletti.