Before I jump into my power vinyasa yoga experience, I’d like to share an anecdote with you about the first time I tried another type of yoga class–a hot yoga class–just over two months ago.
It is very hot
I feel like I am dying.
I must be dying
Five minutes later
I feel like I am sweating out my organs
I look up. Sweat drips off my forehead.
I’m in the safety position which means I’m on my knees. Not one knee. Too worried I’ll tumble over. Two knees.
I don’t feel safe. I feel like I am dying.
The instructor motions for the class to transition to the next posture of 26.
I look at my hands to see how many fingers I have used to count postures.
I’ve lost count.
I may vomit.
I’m still on my knees.
I try another posture.
We’re asked to repeat. And I retreat to my knees. My water is out of reach. I don’t want to disrupt the peacefulness of the class. My internal dialogue is already disrupting my peace. I don’t want to ruin this moment for these practitioners.
Somehow I manage to sit in the room for the duration of class. There is a pool of water below me. I wonder if it’s possible to drown in my own sweat.
Dizzy. I whisper to myself, “I should have hydrated more.
I leave the class.
My instructor smiles at me–no wait, I mean, he grins. “Libby, you did great!” He exclaims jubilantly.
Inside, I am screaming, “Don’t you lie to me–I was like a fish out of water desperately trying to breathe.”
Instead, I try and chirp a positive, “Thanks.”
“You should do it again tomorrow–and the next day…” He responds.
I smile again. “Okay.”
Inside my head, “No thanks.”
If I had written about my hot yoga experience in anymore words than that, it may have looked a lot like this guy’s post that circled on MindBodyGreen several years ago. Like him, I bought a pass to attend multiple hot yoga classes after my first. That would be great–if I hadn’t spent the money before even stepping into the heat infused room. That was my first mistake. But my bigger mistake was jumping into hot yoga before I had taken much more than a flexibility and stretch yoga class in Ohio during the road trip.
This wasn’t the first time I actually stepped foot into a hot yoga classroom. Last year, I took the time to video my good friend Rena as she completed her 100th Bikram class in under 100 days. But videoing and actually doing the yoga are two totally different beasts. I was unprepared for the struggle I was about to put my body through. I hadn’t drank enough water. I hadn’t attended any basic flow classes that involved difficult postures. Essentially, I had attempted to jump from being young Simba to the Mufasa of yoga far too quickly. I can tell you that, now after taking a hot yoga class, my respect for those who attend this practice on a regular basis has only exponentially grown. Hot yoga s not easy. Not at all.
But despite my disappointing first attempt at a yoga beyond the most basic kind, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let the experience deter me from giving other types of yoga–like vinyasa–a shot. So in order to keep my promise to myself, I headed to my first power vinyasa yoga class at Yoga to the People at St. Marks Place last week–and I couldn’t be more glad that I did:
It’s not even five minutes into class and I can feel little sweat droplets moving down my back.
But this time something is different. Something is much different.
I can breathe.
I’m not struggling to find air to in a 100 something degree sweat box.
I find my breath.
My muscles loosen.
I’m transitioning from downward dog to salutations.
I’m bending backwards and stretching forward
And while my body feels the stress of the movements, I find myself enter a rhythm.
I’m still sweating.
I try not to loose focus.
These men and women at my sides are much more flexible than I am.
This is about me. This is about my body. This is about my breathing.
I take a moment to retreat to my safety position.
“You got this Libs,” I whisper. “Keep breathing.” “Stop thinking.”
Inhale. Exhale. Downward dog.
I find shift my way to my left arm and hand and reach my right hand way up toward the ceiling, opening my entire body.
I can feel my body underneath me–all of it–working together. I feel strong.
I return to downward dog.
“Now let yourself relax on your back,” I hear the instructor say.
Class is coming to an end.
I’m not dizzy.
I inhale. I exhale. I can still breathe.
I feel alive.
I’m ready for my day.