COLUMN: Some like it hot/ Sweating, stretches and smells

In Columns, Fitness, Sports

If I could sum up my new embargo to the world of hot yoga in just one word, it would be this: Sweaty. Okay, I need two words: Freaking sweaty.

During the eight yoga classes I have taken in the last two weeks, I have probably sweated out enough water to refill the eight water bottles I have brought to class each time. Gross, yes. Graphic, yes. Sorry, I’m just being honest. This journey through hot yoga is going to be a sweat-drenched one.

As I walked into the studio for my first class, yoga mat tucked confidently under my arm, I was feeling rather peppy about implementing my new exercise routine and decided to secure a good spot in front of the class.

This odd stench seemed to creep up to the studio. Woosh! There it was. The distinct smell of yoga sweat is an unmistakable odor mixed with the 85-degree heat of the room hitting me right smack in the face. But, this must be what limber flexibility, core strength and hard work smells like, right?

Sitting in the front of the class for my triumphant return back to yoga, helped prove that it was anything but. The 70 minutes of yoga that the instructor “guided” us through with her serene voice seemed like torture. Just doing the opening breathing exercises felt excruciating and caused me to instantly perspire. As beads of sweat dripped down my face into my eyes, I was nearly blinded each time I tried to glance up at the foggy clock.

Was everyone else around me a yoga pro?  Yoga postures that I once knew felt foreign and doing a tree pose made my body feel like I was going to split into pieces. My muscles were rejecting the movement and my hair was not responding well to the humidity. Let me tell you, no one looks cute doing hot yoga. No one.

After class, it took me at least 20 minutes to walk to my car six feet away. I felt dizzy, my clothes were soaked through completely, and I was frustrated. I use to be more bendy, I use to know these poses, I want to be good at this and be a buff yoga goddess already! If only one class would do the trick. But, it doesn’t. So, I dragged my sore and aching body to class two more times for the first week and parked my mat in the back corner of the class. Although I was feeling a little intimidated, the perfectionist inside me was frustrated that I didn’t master tree pose in a few days, but I pushed on to week two.

By class five, my body began to adjust to the heat, re-learn to bend and my concentration and my ability to do poses were improving. However, when I saw myself in a pose reflecting back in the mirror, I was still feeling frustrated. I see an excessively sweaty girl whose poses are perfect and all my body’s imperfections seemed to be jumping out at me. Let’s just say, the “inner zen” I had been hoping to find was nowhere in sight.

It wasn’t until the sixth class that I found some peace of mind. It was as if the instructor had tailored her lesson for the day to me.

“There is a difference between excellence and perfection. Ninety-nine percent of perfectionists are unhappy people because they consider themselves failures when everything isn’t perfect, and “nothing ever is,” my teacher said. “People who strive for excellence, know they will fail at some point, but will use it to work towards bettering themselves. So stop trying to be perfect, be excellent, and you are by just trying because failures lead to our successes.”

Her zen speech was just what I needed to hear and I feel that at that moment my inner Buddha was smiling. I relaxed, smiled and just accepted my body’s current capabilities. I’m where I’m supposed to be right now, sweating and trying, even though my tree pose isn’t perfect yet, some day it might be and if not, that’s okay. At least I’m here.

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