Extreme heat. Tiny room. Lots of nearly-naked people packed in nose to tail (literally so in Down Dog). All the elements were there for a monumental embarrassing moment. Would I fart - after all "wind-removing pose" is one of the 26 postures used in Bikram yoga? Would I slip on all my sweat? Would I faint from the heat? Would I have a wardrobe malfunction from wearing tiny little shorts? Well at least it will make for good fodder for my next book. And thus began my first experience with Super Sweat Fest '11 as I tried hot yoga for the first time on Saturday.
Thankfully (or disappointingly?) other than a case of a seriously bad wedgie - poor girl who was 12 inches behind me had to watch me pull my shorts out of my butt like 30 times - none of the above happened. My first thought when Gym Buddy Leah and I walked in the studio: Wow, it's not that hot in here. I should have kept my pants on. My second thought: This may be the first Experiment where I've had to say to myself "I should have kept my pants on." Note to self: I don't care how hot it is, do not wear shorty-shorts again as they ride like the Lone Ranger on Silver and nobody needs their lady business compared to a horse. Also, self, how did you get that huge bruise on your inner thigh and what does it say about us that I can't remember?
For this month's Great Yoga Experiment, hot yoga (I couldn't find an actual Bikram class as that requires special licensing or something but we did do the entire Bikram sequence in a room heated to about 100 degrees) was supposed to be the culminating adventure. Since I've been doing yoga for a long time, this would be the novelty! The thing that would take my practice to higher level! My 4th chakra would finally stop poking my 3rd chakra in the eye and I'd achieve inner balance!
Turns out it was yoga. It a hot room.
Thankfully I like yoga. And I like heat - I have not been truly warm since last August - so I had a good time. I did not however, sweat puddles and soak my clothing through. I only needed a few sips from my water bottle. And while awkward pose was, yes, awkward (especially when the teacher told us to do it knock-kneed) I didn't find it overly challenging. I blame the old people.
I'm talking about the old folks that workout at my Y and are the reason the thermostat resides at a happy 85 degrees year round. That's bad enough when I'm running around the track but pack 100 of us into a tiny studio for an hour of TurboKick and sweaty takes on a whole new meaning. The floor is like a slip-n-slide from all the condensed sweat. The mirrors fog up. Turbo Jennie even turns off all the lights in an effort to reduce the sauna-like atmosphere. (Plus it makes us get all down with our bad selfs during the dance breaks.) I'm used to working out in hot small rooms, is what I'm saying. So I guess I owe a big thank you to the sweet little old ladies who walk the treadmills every morning wearing their turtlenecks, corduroys and festive sweaters.
While Hot Yoga was a little anti-climatic (but still fun! I'd totally do it again!), the best part of this month's Yoga Experiment was (re)discovering that yoga is the perfect at-home workout. I love going to a yoga studio. There's nothing like doing savasana (corpse pose) in a lightly scented room with a yogi softly intoning mantras upon which to focus my heart's center. Or inner eye. Or third nipple. Whatever. But because of price and lack of childcare I rarely get to treat myself that experience.
Thanks to YogaDownload.com though I was able to do any type of yoga I wanted at any level for any length of time at my convenience. And while there were no scented candles (do you have any idea what my kids could do with a lit candle while I'm in my zen state?), I did get in at least two sessions of yoga a week which was amazing for me because yoga is always one of those things that I know I should do and will love once I start and yet I hardly ever find time for.
7 Reasons Yoga is the Perfect At-Home Workout
1. You don't have to change your clothes.
This is me doing yoga in my bedroom at 11 o'clock at night after a hot date with Gym Hubby.
2. Nobody's watching you make funny faces (or "artistic" arm movements) in camel pose.
Socks are no fun when they match.
3. You can do it any time of day.
4. You don't need any equipment nor much room.
My bedroom is my sanctuary.
5. You can talk back to the teacher. I fell in love with Jean Baptiste this month through his vinyasa flow classes - he is one saucy Yogi!
6. It works great with children. Kids love to do yoga and they're naturals at it. They'll do London Bridge with your Down Dog and add extra resistance to your Plank and you can chalk it all up to fun family memories (as long as you're not wearing teeny tiny shorts - don't do that to your kids).
See, here I am flipping my 3-legged dog (wow that sounds bad) in my PJs with Jelly Bean crawling under me and Son #2 giving me form corrections.
7. You can do wind-relieving pose all you want.
Whoops! How did this get in here? Gratuitous cute dress shot:) Found this 60's vintage number in a thrift store and after I loved it back to life with my sewing machine I think it turned out really fun.
Thanks to YogaDownload I also managed to meditate about 80% of the days this month which is kind of a coup for someone as crazy in the head as I am. And I really think it helped. On days where I did yoga and/or meditated I swear things just ran smoother. I had more patience. I was more grateful, more aware, more gentle. And for any of you doubting that yoga can be a "real" workout, try doing 30 minutes of Vinyasa flow and tell me you don't want to gnaw your own shoulder off to stop the pain from all those chaturanga push-ups.
As for results, this month I wasn't going for physical changes but rather trying to work in a break for myself and hopefully get more balance in my life. While I felt like I achieved the latter, the former didn't really happen as I couldn't cut out any of my gym workouts. And by "couldn't" I mean "didn't want to" - which is kind of a problem. The Gym Buddies and I alternated P90X weight workouts with Rachel Cosgrove Phase IV workouts interspersed with running (we did that whole race thing, remember?) so I didn't get much rest. I'm not sure what to do about that, actually.
Do you have an item of clothing that you will never ever wear to workout in again? (I am burning those shorts and no you can't see a pic.) Did you try any yoga this month? Do you have a hard time taking breaks too?
Written with love by Charlotte Hilton Andersen for The Great Fitness Experiment (c) 2011. If you enjoyed this, please check out my new book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything for more of my crazy antics and uncomfortable over-shares!