It had been far too long since I'd been to a yoga class. I'd taken classes faithfully 3 times a week when I was unemployed, and I loved the class, the teacher, and the way my body felt and looked being so toned from all that muscle work. Now that I'm working again, various obstacles, namely a full time job, a nasty bike accident and the disappearance of my regular teacher, have kept me from getting to any classes, although I do practice a little at home. I find that regular downward and upward facing dogs along with some other stretches really keep me from tightening up like a dried-out rubber band, especially since my bike ride to work can be pretty hard on the calf muscles.
My roommate, an avid yoga practicioner, convinced me to try a class at Baron Baptise Yoga Studio, home of "hot yoga" where the temperature is kept around 95 degrees during classes. The idea is that your muscles are relaxed by the heat, and all that sweating gets the toxins out of your system. I was a little skeptical for two reasons: the idea of celebrity yoga seems a little like marketing prayer or meditation, and gurus just plain make me nervous. Second, getting overly hot and sweaty is usually something I avoid. I don't mind exercise, but I don't relish the idea of dripping sweat in front of strangers or vice versa.
Nonetheless, I headed over this week. It was a standard gym like studio, with yoga-ish music wafting about, places to stow your stuff, and as promised, a very warm temperature. The teacher, Rhea, started going full-speed ahead from the moment she entered the room. And she kicked my butt, yoga wise. It was strenuous, challenging, and very, very sweaty. But once you're trying to stay up with the upwards and downwards and trying not to topple over in the crow, you aren't looking much at your neighbor. When I did sneak a peak with my own hair stuck to my face like straw, there was definitely a lot of sweating and groaning going on. I felt good that I was at least able to keep up. And as the class progressed, I realized I was enjoying myself, and my body definitely was also. I ended the class feeling energized and proud of myself. That was an hour long class.... could I possibly manage the standard 1.5 hours? Would I do it again? Definitely. But I don't think it was the sweaty factor that thrilled my system as much as I was getting my body back in its yoga pace again. We'll see if I can keep this up.
UPDATE: 7/5/04 Went again for 1.5 hour class. It was great! Other than a fleeting sense of nausea, no doubt brought about by dehydration and the large iced coffee I drank before class (oops), I managed to make it though. Man, it was sweat city though. I've never sweated or seen so much sweat around me in my life. Sounds great, no? I mentioned the nausea to my roomie, and she said that was normal. And after a while I'd get addicted to it. The nausea? No, she said, the sweat. Hm.