On a recent Saturday, my friend invited me to bikram yoga. I knew what bikram was - your regular poetic yoga poses in a sauna - and had been wanting to try it. My friend told me to bring a towel, and that's it.
Five minutes before the class, my friend goes, "I forgot to tell you to bring water."
Thankfully, she had an extra bottle I could fill up.
For those of you not in the yogi know, bikram yoga consists of 26 poses in 105-110o heat and 40-50% humidity (I grabbed these stats from their website). The class lasts 90 minutes. I didn't think it could be that bad; I attend hour yoga classes weekly. The only difference would be relocating to an equatorial jungle, but I love travel.
Of course, I had to sign a waiver that I wouldn't sue them when I suffered cardiac arrest. The instructor told me if I felt I couldn't do any of the moves, I should just lay down. Perfect; I love corpse pose.
Then I walked into the room.
What the f*ck had I signed up for?
This was not just hot; it was like a double-knitted quilt had been laid across my lungs. And this is coming from someone who opts for runs at noon during the summer because I like sweating. Suddenly 90 minutes felt longer than getting a PhD. The room seemed to close around me.
I can get through this, I told myself. Breathe.
Except don't breathe. Holy crap, that burned. The air seared my nostrils. I felt like a dragon.
And then, naturally, the instructor entered and said we should begin with some breathing exercises. Okay, Daenerys. The room became alive with huffing dragons.
My friend: "It's like a Dementor is eating out your lungs."
The next pose involved holding our arms to the ceiling. That is when I noticed my elbow was sweating. I knew I was going to sweat, but I haven't even done a plank. We are five minutes into class! By the third pose, my calves were perspiring. Calves don't even have sweat glands (do they?).
This is the part on the rollercoaster where you're going down and it's too late to scream.
When we went into warrior three (that's the pose where you face the ground and look like a T), I literally heard my sweat plop! onto the carpet. Yes, I said carpet. The room was carpeted. Leopard print, too. (Are you sweating even more?) You would think in a room built for sweating they would put some gymnasium flooring, something they can spray down after every sweat fest, not material that absorbs moisture (?!?). Thankfully, I already felt disgusting from the volume of my sweat, so I didn't recoil when my body spilled off my mat onto this sweat-soaked carpet (#TallPeopleProblems). What's some more grossness?
During our first shavasana (halfway point in the class: Okay, we can do this), I mulled this carpet. The classes are scheduled with only 30 minutes in between. This carpet is not drying out. And at this humidity, how is bacteria not colonizing?
I couldn't dwell on this too long. Ponds began to form over my eyes. I reached for the washcloth I brought with me. Afterward, my friend told me you aren't supposed to wipe the sweat off; sweat is good for you. Which I believe and support until your eyeballs are being waterboarded.
At some point, the instructor called out that "Kevin's still smiling. This is his first class."
It took me a moment to realize I was Kevin. The heat had gone to her head.
She then told us to do some leg stretching pose where we put our forehead to our knee. The last thing I wanted was to put anything on my body. I was considering removing my tank; it had already become sheer from my sweat, and the elderly man across the room had started the class shirtless. However, I refrained. I did not want to cause the soccer moms surrounding me to sweat more.
The instructor kept insisting on these stretches where we needed to grab hold of a limb. I wanted to raise my hand and say, "I cannot grasp my ankle because my sweat is like Vaseline; there is no grip to be had."
I also had this sudden inclination to fart, but I contracted; I feared what sulfur and methane would do in 50% humidity at 110o Fahrenheit.
The class ended, as yoga should always end, with an everlasting shavasana. Except literally. The instructor left the room, and it was on us to wake up before the next class came in (aka 30 minutes). Before she left, however, she came around and handed us icy cold washcloths. Can Hozier say "Amen"? One more time, please.
I laid that cloth across my face and waited to die - like a mummy - somewhere between ecstasy and heat stroke.
Overall, I believe in doing everything once, so I'm glad I
went endured. But I believe the sweating is more psychological than anything else. And the rest of the day I felt drained in a "I should not have taken nine shots last night" way; I probably needed a Gatorade.
In the future, I'll stick with mountain pose at room temperature - or maybe even AC.