Let’s get one thing straight. Me agreeing to go to the gym is like agreeing to vacation in Damascus, have elective brain surgery or go low carb. I am about as comfortable in the gym as Kim Kardashian is buying clothes at Wal-Mart.
So I am not going to just any gym to spend my time – this is the fancy gym. I want a beautiful space, free of meatheads dragging their knuckles through the free weights and staphylococcus lurking in the showers. I want all the amenities: three kinds of fruit water, eucalyptus-infused steam rooms and a hunky manservant in a toga to feed me grapes while lying on a chaise after a strenuous workout with a thigh master.
The gym has a buffet of classes to choose from: Spinning, Get Screamed At By A Former Marine Crossfit, Dance Jam, Crush It, Kill It, If You Don’t Die Of A Heart Attack You’re Doing It Wrong. It’s intense. Many of the classes are held in the general workout area, where I can be seen lazily pedaling along on the recumbent bike, while I witness middle aged men who seem more like late registrants to the Navy SEAL BUD/S training, jump around the floor like frogs, crab crawl across the workout area to sprint on the treadmill and be hit with medicine balls faster than they can catch them.
Among the classes that seem less lethal to my physical and mental well-being, are a variety of yoga classes. Hanging out on a mat, listening to singing crystal bowls while clearing my mind? What’s the worst that could happen…
For the uninitiated, yoga is a mind-body practice designed for people to feel morally superior to you because the path to spiritual enlightenment is paved with shots of wheatgrass and folding yourself into a pretzel. You learn to detach from your ego, by taking pictures of yourself doing a handstand with legs spread eagle and posting them on Instagram with hashtags like #LivingLaYogaLoca #NoEgo #LookAtMe #Namaste.
As far as I can tell, serious yogis employ a professional photographer to follow them around to capture them in tittibhasana (an actual yoga pose which translates to, “tits in a sauna”). Not only am I afraid I would cause serious bodily harm doing anything beyond bending over and touching my toes, I didn’t have the foresight in college to major in Sanskrit. I have concerns about understanding what a jali mudra is, how to get into adho mukha svanasana and what to do when my kundalini starts awakening.
I’ve seen the women who go to this yoga class, and honestly, I’m intimidated. They wear those fancy bras that look more like a top and have 20 straps crisscrossing along their perfectly toned backs. Also, completely unnecessary since fake boobs hold themselves up. I have no doubt that I would strangle myself trying to get that on.
But I put to rest my insecurities and went to a restorative yoga class.
I don’t want to say it was terrible, but my Fitbit recorded the entire hour as sleep. It was basically a lot of lying on the mat doing twists and trying not to lapse in a coma.
I just lie around and relax for an hour? I GOT THIS.
Feeling more confident in my mad yoga skills, I decide to take the yoga basics class. I’ve already taken the restorative class and it was easy as pie. Wouldn’t basics be easier?
The next day I confidently sway into the yoga basics class. The room is a little warm. I overhear the teacher tell us she’s heating the room to 80 degrees. As I have come to learn, this is not even considered hot yoga. In hot yoga, participants show up effectively nude to do yoga in a 104 degree sweat lodge. If we left our children or pets in a car that hot, it’s considered criminal negligence. In the world of yoga, it’s “detoxifying”.
11:15 I plop my mat down at the front and center of the room
“Watch how this is done, bitches”
11:20 We start moving. Hmm. This is different. In the other class I barely moved at all. Are we sure this is how it’s done? Maybe the teacher doesn’t understand this is BASICS.
11:25 I’m having a hard time keeping up with the changes in movement and realizing that not all yoga is done lying on a mat. We’re actually standing up here. And wait a minute, what is that I feel on the back of my neck. Is that sweat?
11:30 My hair is officially stuck to my face as we move through vinyasa (sanskrit for torture). I’m beginning to feel a bit like a sweaty Cousin It from the Addams Family, as hair sticks to my forehead. I cannot move the wet strands of hair out of my face fast enough. I am no longer able to clearly see the teacher, who is fluidly taking the other students from one move to another.
“Find your breath,” the teacher coos.
11:35 My breath has left the building.
11:36 I become good friends with my breath’s less elegant cousin: panting.
11:40 My mat officially turns into a Slip n’ Slide. I am yoga surfing on the mat as I try to hold warrior poses without my legs giving way under me and flying in opposite directions.
Can we turn the heat down?
11:55 I’m in a shower… of my own sweat. Literally not one part of my body has been spared. I look around the room through my sweat-soaked glasses (yes, even my eyebrows are sweating) and everyone looks totally normal. Not drenched in sweat. I’m not sure anyone but me has even broken a sweat. They look totally calm and collected…
12:05 Savasana. I lie in corpse pose, completely dead to the world. Well, except for one nagging thought. At any moment, I expect to hear over the PA, “Cleanup in row 3 of the yoga room. We’ve got a wet one. Bring a bucket.”
12:10 Still looking for my breath, which is now hovering near the entrance to the room as if to say, “If you think I’m going back into that room, you’re crazy.”
12:15 The class ends and I literally peel myself off the mat. The mat should probably be burned. I leave the room and confirm that everyone else looks totally enlightened and camera ready, while I look like I just got off of Splash Mountain.
12:30 Something feels funny.
1:30 Muscles I didn’t know I even had begin to ache.
4:30 I cannot lift my pinky.