August 09, 2017

On the path to lose some college-caused weight and work on my fitness, I recently tried hot yoga for the first time. You’ve probably heard a thing or two about this “hot” new trend.

Basically, it consists of doing yoga in a room heated to around 100 degrees, moving from pose to pose with your teacher referring to fancy names like vinyasa and bikram. Given the intense temperature, you also sweat…. a lot. As in, you have to bring a towel to put on top of your yoga mat because you sweat so much.

I learned a lot from the experience.

First, let me set the scene. I have never taken a yoga class before. Thanks to a mom who works as a personal trainer, I have taken kickboxing classes, had personal training sessions and done fall and spring boot camps; however, never yoga. So when my friend told me I should go to hot yoga at 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, I thought, why not? Plus, my body was on an internal clock from my summer internship so it was impossible to sleep in.

I went by myself, brought in my bath towel while everyone else was obviously Yogi-veterans with their hot yoga-specific, sweat-wicking towels. In typical fashion of my life, after walking in the men’s locker room first, I realized my mistake and made my way to the women’s along the same wall. I found a space to put my bag and left my phone in there. Spoiler: I looked on the website first and found that phones aren’t supposed to go in the yoga room and that’s the only reason I didn’t mess that up.

Walking into the studio, I felt a huge temperature change that seriously made me consider my sanity. Questioning why everyone was lying flat with their eyes closed, I found a spot, rolled out my rented mat and prepared to get skinny and relaxed. I worked to ignore the smell of essential oils that I prayed wouldn’t give me a headache.

Guess what? I went to a workout yoga class instead of a chill, easy one. Imagine my surprise. Who knew you could hold a plank that long or do it that many different ways? Certainly not me and I could’ve gone just fine not knowing that. Add on the amount of sweat to fill a blow-up pool and you’re guaranteed a good time.

As the newbie, here are some of my thoughts during the first class:

  • I think someone farted. Don’t laugh, don’t laugh, don’t laugh.
  • My eyes are burning from my sweat. I think I have an unhealthy amount of salt in my body based on the sting.
  • I wonder if this playlist is on Spotify?
  • How is she moving her leg like that? How is it possible to go back that far? Can I do that? Nope.
  • Maybe I’ll go buy a green smoothie after this. Not even a fruity, sugary one. Straight veggie.
  • Am I getting dizzy or am I just psyching myself out? Maybe I’m low on electrolytes.
  • I feel trendy.
  • I need some yoga sandals. Maybe a new outfit. Got to commit.
  • I like the back row. It’s where the people avoiding responsibilities sit. We understand each other.

 

At times, I sincerely thought I couldn’t finish a move or set of movements. I would pause and then force myself to keep trying. Then we would move on and I realized I did it. Then I did it again. I felt by burdens leave me, albeit temporarily, with every drop (or rapid stream) of sweat. Sure, it could have been due to focusing on not dying from heat stroke, but it did the trick!

I did it again the next week. Then the day after that class. Then I signed up for an unlimited month. It became more about becoming strong and conquering my mind rather than losing weight. I wanted to prove that I could do it and hang with the yogis.

I invested in my own mat and cool towel from TJ Maxx. And while every part of my body hurts and I have sweat in more places than what is normal, I feel good. I feel strong. I feel unintimidated and I feel empowered. Even better, the essential oils didn’t give me a headache.

So give it a try. Whether it’s hot yoga or another intimidating class, challenge yourself to push your boundaries and step outside your normal activity. I think you may discover new capabilities and areas of strength. And who knows, you may find a new hobby or obsession!

Namaste.

About Laryn Hilderbrandt:
Laryn is an Alpha Delta Pi and senior at Western Kentucky University studying public relations. Along with being a conference coordinator, she is currently her school’s Panhellenic President, a member of Order of Omega and Rho Lambda, and VP of Internships and Jobs for PRSSA. In her spare time, she enjoys staying up to date on everything pop culture, Facetiming her mom back home and trying new workouts.