Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hot Yoga

Recently I had been hearing numerous people talk about "Hot Yoga". Hot Yoga is a new trend where the act of Yoga is performed in a room with the temperature of 106 degrees (F). This feature is supposed to make your body more flexible and your muscles softer. It is also meant to help your body sweat all of the toxins out leaving it cleansed and purified.
The concept did not make sense to me so I dismissed the idea of trying it for myself. I knew that I will not be able to handle the heat and the activity together. I could see myself collapsing on the yoga mat from overheating and exhaustion. However due to other's insistence and being the adventurous person that I am as well as so open to new ideas (not really but I've been trying very hard these days) I decided to give it a chance and try it. I figured that if so many people are raving about how much they love this new trend and what a great experience it was for them, there must be something to it that I am missing. So I told myself: "try new things, experience great adventures, broaden your horizons, come out of your comfort zone".
Wendy was one of the people who had been trying to persuade me to try Hot Yoga. She believes that I am officially a couch potato and need to move my recently widened ass (I blame the holidays). So we took the step and embarked on a new and exciting adventure. I felt good, I felt excited, I felt cool.
The Yoga studio looked very trendy and exotic, from the large size pictures of the Yoga gurus (they actually have pretty hot bodies, you just have to refrain from looking at their faces), to the music, to the type of people who worked there.
We changed in a little room called the "locker room" which reminded me of when I was a little girl and was forced to go to swimming class in Iran where they made us change in a dark and wet little hole of a room. But I continued to keep an open mind. We did not have our own mats so we were directed to a rack that held the hanging orange mats. I was happy that they looked like they were hanging to dry up from the process of sanitizing. During our initial registration process I spotted people coming out of the earlier class soaking wet, I started to question my decision to come, but I reminded myself to keep an open mind.
As we opened the double glass doors to enter the Hot Yoga class we were struck by a very strong and distinct smell, it was the smell of feet! I continued to keep an open mind and blamed the smell on the CARPET in the Hot Yoga class which absorbed every scent. We placed our large fresh towels on our mats, covered our water bottles with the smaller fresh towel and sat and waited, the heat actually felt good on my body (since I am always and forever cold). As we sat there and watched the people walk into the class I noticed that many of them were men, shirtless men, men with hairy chests! I kept an open mind.
The class started. There was no music and the instructor spoke very softly, yet continuously and with out a single pause. She informed us that if for any reason we want/need to stop our session in the middle of the class we do not have permission to leave the classroom until the entire hour and a half is completed. Fine, I kept an open mind.
As we started with the moves I started to become hotter and hotter and the smell started to become more familiar to my nostrils. Then it started, the sweating. It was not only your usual underarms and middle back, but there was sweat coming out of every single pore in my body, places that I was not aware had pores. I noticed for the first time in my life that my leg can sweat! Do legs have sweat glands? As my hair was sticking to my body and sweat was dripping into my eyes from my brows, I was trying so hard to perform the moves while keeping up with the task of breathing through the smell of feet. Then I looked up and saw every one els in class dripping sweat, big chunks of stinky water dropping off of each one of their bodies. Then there were the men, with their shirtless bodies and their chest hair (some with back hair as well). Drops of sweat crawling between the curly hairs of their bodies and splashing onto their mats and some on the carpet as well. There was drops of sweat falling out of the inside of their shorts from their crotches. I think I threw up in my mouth a few times. The smell started to get stronger, the men started perspiring more, I was holding on to a thin thread to an open mind which was on the verge of breaking.
About 15 minutes into the class I was miserable. I could not breath, every muscle in my body ached and I swear I saw the face of Jesus in the mirror across the way. I wanted to run out of that awful place, into the fresh cool air, away from all these disgusting people, nasty wet people, and the stinky carpet. But I was not allowed, I was trapped. I was a prisoner inside this 106 degree room with all these crazy people and forced to stretch into an unachievable pretzel. I looked at Wendy and she looked as miserable and I was, lying on her mat for much longer than she was instructed to do so. I started thinking about all of the germs, sicknesses, diseases and hideous rashes I am going to suffer from. I had locked my eyes to the classroom door, the door to freedom, air, life, peace and comfort, right on the other side. I ran different scenarios through my head on ways that I can get out of this misery, but none would work. I kept counting the minutes of the longest hour and a half of my life. "Why did I get myself into this? Why? Why? Why?".
The voice of that monstrous woman who was holding me prisoner and making me work so hard would not cease! She kept talking, in that low, mischievous and extremely annoying voice. She said things like "you are releasing all of the toxins in your body", "your body is loving you right now", "you are fighting diseases and sicknesses as we speak", "you will have so much energy for the rest of the day"... Ah I so wish she would just shut the hell up! Get me out of here! I hate Hot Yoga!
So just like every other torture session this too ended after 5 years or an hour and a half. Wendy and I looked at each other and we did not have to speak as our eyes said it all.
As we were trying to get out of that hell hole as soon as possible, we went to return our orange mats. I was expecting to throw my mat into a pile of "used" ones on their way to be sanitized. Well, not quite, we hung them right up there on that same rack where we had picked them up from, ready for the next group. Yes, there was no "sensitization" of the mats, they were just being re-used by every new patron. Uuuuugggghhhh I wanted to scrub my body in bleach.
Not only my body did not have more energy that day, I was a sleepy lump in pain all day long, in shock and traumatized.
Ok, I tried it, I kept an open mind and I experienced something new. That teaches me to never try anything new ever again, or at least never to go against my instinct, which is usually right. I am going back to my comfort zone (air conditioned yoga class) and staying there.


sanaz said...

hahah! that's too funny...I also did it once, hated it, and never went back...man hamash daashtam rooye mat leeez mikhordam o telep mioftadam zamin dar haali keh aab az hameh jaam michekid o hesaabi khis boodam!!!! absolutely hated it!

LifeGoesOn said...

did you cheat on me by going to another yoga class? This is what you get!!!!

Anahita said...


Hot Yoga...That reminds me...
I experienced something new past weekend, too: "Hot Wine". Arezou and Sanaz introduced it to me. Not as dramatic as your experience though, but I would prefer my "Room Temperature Wine".

Jasmine said...

that is too funny! You paint such a vivid picture.

MeLissa said...

The worst is the smell, I hate BO. You did better than I did. You stayed the whole 1 1/2 hour. I left after 40 minutes. Yes the yoga police tried to stop me but I said "No Judgment Right"

fighter said...

I never liked the "no fresh air hot classes". I like the wonderful fresh air classes and I feel great in those classes. But as more and more new teachers are programmed to think yoga should be done without fresh air in hot sweaty rooms, it is difficult to find fresh air classes. Somehow the hot room teacher trainings are more available, or better marketed. Its too bad. I studied medicine and although a temporary higher level of carbon dioxide can calm people down, and yeah to allow the muscles to stretch a bit more, it is kind of a cheap trick to use this in yoga classes. I could go on about the chemistry but suffice it to say that oxygen for human bodies is the best bet.

redredhair said...

i too felt i must be missing "something", since all my yoga friends LOVE hot yoga. well, i signed up for a class all excited about a new experience. NOT!!! i was immediately put in a bad mood from the heat alone. then, 90 minutes of it? all the sweat and god knows what in that room made me sick. i told one of my yoga instuctors it definetly wasnt my thing. she said i needed to let it grow on me. the only thing to grow on me from the class is something i'm afraid to think of. so, i'm with you in the hot yoga haters club!!

YogaMaendy said...

Hahhahah! Awww that is too bad you had a bad time at hot yoga. I actually LOVE it...but I can see how it isn't for everyone. I took one of my friends recently, and though she seemed like a "tough cookie" she didn't last through a half hour of the class! Oh well.

I do find it disgusting that hot yoga studios always smell so bad. Unfortunately, that is just something we have to put out of our minds to get our practice in. However, at YogaDirect where I work, we have developed Microban Yoga Mats. They are regular sticky mats that have a zinc technology infused into them during manufacturing, which protects the mat against bacteria and fungus. And since the Microban is infused in the mat, it lasts forever :) I have noticed that my Microban doesn't smell like sweat after hot yoga class, like my old mat did.

Well, maybe you will give Hot Yoga another try on down the read ;) Namaste!

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Muni786 said...

Can I just say, I totally agree with your account of Bikram Yoga. There is no acceptable reason for why the room smells so bad. I have given Bikram a try twice and can't get past the odour.

Now, I have been to hot Yoga out in america. There was no smell, no disgusting carpet and no cramming in of bodies like sardines. It was a very pleasant experience. The studio was very modern, as hot as bikram , had music and above all did NOT smell. I am investigating how we can get this in London.