Henry David Thoreau said “Beware of all endeavors that require new clothes,” and I’m pretty much in tune with that advice. So, when a friend announced she was offering yoga sessions for just $5, I thought I’d give it a try and just wear my most comfortable clothing. I knew mats of some sort were required for yoga that was not performed in the grass with miniature goats — the only yoga demonstration I had ever personally witnessed. But again, I was not amenable to investing in new equipment either. I packed a large colorful beach towel and off I went to a beautiful venue overlooking downtown Torrington.
The very first thing I noticed about the beautiful yoga studio was that it was located on the third floor which required climbing so many sets of stairs that I thought I’d have a bird’s eye view of the entire city when I reached the top. The second thing I noticed when I opened the door was that the studio seemed to be situated in a blast furnace. The friendly girl at the desk said, No, there was no air conditioning because this was “hot yoga.” Since I had just climbed a multitude of stairs in 80-degree weather, I already felt pretty warm.
I was given a borrowed mat, which I struggled to keep pinned to the shiny wood floor as I attempted the downward dog and uptown dog, or whatsit. I was too slow to get around to doing both of them, mostly because the quick switch from one to the other was awkward and the instruction to “walk up to your hands” was just plain unmanageable. I chose to do the one that my partner to the right was performing by sticking her butt up in the air.
I am, in all honesty, uncoordinated and unbalanced, but after some of the moves that required, unfortunately, coordination and balance, I began to consider myself sufficiently competent to not do a smackdown on the shiny wood floor. But there were close calls. Our patient and kind teacher gave me a small block to assist with movements requiring flat palms on the floor without bending knees, and reaching behind my back with one arm and trying to grab the other arm by threading it between my legs. There was also a random instruction to “pull your chest up to your chin” that completely threw me off kilter.
Twenty minutes in, we were told to do the Warrior pose, and that rang a bell. A year ago, I had done a photo shoot for a local yoga studio (the one with the tiny goats) and I got two grown men to remove their shoes and socks to stand in a field and strike the Warrior pose. Finally, something I knew! Turns out, though, watching two grown men through the camera lens and snapping several photos while they grimly complied with my request to “look fierce” does not equate to actually doing the stance yourself.
We only sang one long Ohm in unison and I put a lot of gusto into it. I forgot to breathe through my nose, though, and I’m pretty sure that was wrong. I made it to 45 minutes of the scheduled hour, then my patient and kind yoga teacher tapped my arm and said I could leave now, or stay if I wished. I waved goodbye as I made a run for the door.
She later emailed me, thanking me for coming to her inaugural training session, declaring me a “Yoga champ” and saying she admired my “sheer badassery” for attempting first-time hot yoga dressed in too-warm clothing.
I’m thinking now Thoreau might have been wrong on this one.