Picture this, everything around you is closed except for grocery stores and your place of work. You have watched everything Netflix has to offer, burned a hole through your walking shoes from all the evening strolls around the neighborhood, and most of all, you have shown no restraint when it comes to your diet. So as things open back up you keep your promise to yourself to say yes to all opportunities. For me, that opportunity was yoga. My roommate is always looking for the latest and greatest activities (she’s the reason I got into roller skating, which has been one of my favorite types of exercise to date). With no expectations on what the yoga life was like, I signed up for a trial class, which then led me into signing up for a 30-day pass to attend as many classes as I wanted. Until this point, I’d been exclusively roller skating outside and thought yoga would be a great addition to my exercise regime, as well as getting me out of the sun (it’s summer after all).
I attended 2 classes a week for 3 weeks. At the end of each class, I wrote down my experience. These are my thoughts:
Class 1- Hot 26:
As I walked through the studio door my breath was taken away by a wave of heat. I thought it would gradually get warm in the studio. Nope, I was thrown in like a casserole to bake at 110 degrees for 60 minutes. I arrived early for two reasons. First, I didn’t have a yoga mat. More importantly, I needed to get a spot in the back, far away from the mirror wall and the eye of the instructor. My borrowed yoga mat and I hopped on a horse to travel across the desert landscape. I feared I would run out of water before reaching our destination. Waves of heat stung my bare skin. Sweat dripped from my brow. I lost track of the time. Had it been hours? Days? Once I reached my preferred spot I thanked the horse for crossing the desert and asked his name. It turns out he doesn’t have one… go figure.
I’m careful to place my mat precisely on the designated social distancing spot and I watched as others joined the class. Everyone looked like yoga pros. There were the dude bros in the front of the class, admiring themselves in the mirror. The perfect Instagram model with the matching sports bra and leggings; who, might I add, looked unaffected by the heat in this room and did all of the poses flawlessly. There was a group of older people who looked like their chakras were all aligned and I bet they could bend a spoon with their mind if they wanted too. Then there was me, sitting in the corner sweating and bright red looking like I ran a 5K before attending this class.
The first few poses weren’t so bad. At this point, my body felt like it’s acclimated to the heat. Then, the poses gradually became more difficult; requiring core strength and balance, of which I’m still currently lacking. My face turned a brighter shade of tomato red and my hair started unraveling from its neat bun. Just when I thought I needed to call that horse to rescue me (if only I knew his name), the instructor called for a savasana (that’s a resting pose for all you non-yogis). We had a few minutes to just lay on our mats and stare at the ceiling. It was wonderful! I felt like my thoughts were put on mute.
After naptime, the poses became like Pilates poses. Working my core and leg muscles. This is when my muscle started to burn with the heat of a thousand fires. I thought all my miles of roller skating helped me build leg and core strength. Yoga has proven I’m as muscular as a jello mold.
Class 2 – Gentle Yoga
The name says it all. This is the water aerobics of yoga. I attended this class after work and on three hours of sleep. In an attempt to buy a yoga mat, I rushed to not one, but two Targets before this class. I didn’t want to look like a newbie in my second class. I mean, I made it through hot yoga, I’ve got yoga street cred. Also, nothing sets off my chi like hearing, “because of the virus you should consider getting your own mat” from the front desk at check-in. Thanks for that advice. But because of the virus, “there’s a yoga mat shortage.” The exercise aisle looked like it was pillaged, leaving behind a few dusty shelves where yoga mats once lived. I raced to my car and frustratingly ordered (THIS ONE) from Amazon and crossed my fingers it would arrive before my next class.
Slightly miffed, and delusional from lack of sleep, I set up my mat and waited for class to begin. Although the name of the class says ‘gentle’ I was hoping for a bit more movement. This was a yoga class for sloths. I was struggling not to fall completely asleep during our savasana (I may have dreamed about that horse rescuing me). This class also featured an acoustic guitar player, the final nail in my heavy-eyed coffin. He played genital cords encouraging me to fall asleep throughout the entire class. “Must focus”, I kept telling myself, “don’t close your eyes.” I stared at the ceiling of the studio like you would study the Sistine Chapel. My eyes have never been drier. I rushed to the bathroom after class to splash cool water in my face. This was the fastest I’ve moved in over an hour. Blood started circulating through my body again and I felt surprisingly awake.
Class 3 – Flow Level 1
This is what I was expecting from yoga when I signed up. Fluid movements, lots of stretching followed by a lot of resting in child’s pose. This class wasn’t crowded but I still managed to wedge myself in the corner of the room. Why!?!? Insecurities on my wobbly legs and gangly arms flailing around? Hoping I don’t do a downward-facing dog when I’m supposed to do a tree pose? Try not to scare people with the redness of my face? The answer is all of the above. I placed my yoga (borrowed) mat too close to the wall. Not realizing how close I was, I punched the wall at least 3 times. Landing each strike with a loud thud during sun salutations.
This class is like a game of Simon Says. “Left foot towards the hands, right foot back, knee bent, hands towards the sky,” all at the pace of an auctioneer, with a remix of alternative yoga music blaring in my ear. Three fourths into the class I started to get the hang of it.
In the end, I felt like I had attended an actual yoga class. My mind light, muscles stretched and worked out, and I even had a little bit of sweat build-up.
Class 4 – Hot 26
My yoga mat arrived! No more sass from the desk girls, I walked into class looking like a seasoned pro. After two classes of beginner level, going back to Hot 26 wasn’t as dramatic this time around. The crowd was a similar makeup as my first Hot 26; Bros, Pros, and potatoes (me) all in one class.
Today’s instructor focused on quick movements with no long rest in-between. We also didn’t have the Pilates poses in this class, which was disappointing, because I’m still a jello mold at my core.
After circulating through all of the rooms in the studio, Hot 26 is also the only room with a mirrored wall. WHY! I don’t want to see my red sweaty face struggling to balance. I don’t want to put that burden on anyone else either. As an FYI, I also discovered, if you buy a light-colored yoga mat it will show your sweaty feet and butt marks when you start melting away.
Class 5 – Flow Level 2
This is a faster version of Flow Level 1. I enjoyed it. No radical outward emotions for this class. It was vanilla but in the best possible way. Like rich vanilla bean ice cream served with a warm biscotti. Are there better desserts out there? Sure. Will this one do the trick when you’re craving something sweet. Absolutely. And that folks, is Flow Level 2.
Class 6 – Power Yoga
This was not a beginner’s class. The yoga instructor had abs! ABS! I should have rolled up my yoga mat and headed over to Gentle Yoga then and there. I sat there as other yoga pros filled the room. Panic started to ensue. Did I bite off more than I could chew with this class? I was brave and planted my mat in the middle of the studio. It then dawned on me, I may have chosen a spot where the whole class could see me wobble like an old dining table that has one leg just a shade too short. “Be cool”, I told myself. Anyone can dress the part, I’m sure there are other beginners here. I continued with a few stretches and tried to push all thoughts and anxieties out of my mind before class began. My breathing slowed, mind blank, and feeling weightless. BAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH. I was violently shaken by the loud noise coming from this tiny organ-like box. It erupted, the noise echoing off the walls filling the room. Everyone was humming while I was scrambling for a paper bag to prepare for the anxiety attack I was about to have. After I regained composure (and the humming was over) we immediately went into the most advanced yoga poses I’ve experienced. Everything involved balance, twisting, holding your weight on your big toe, and trying not to breathe too much. Just when I would think, “Oh I got this pose” the instructor would up the ante. “If you find balancing on your head and one arm easy, try a headstand”. No, I think I’ll stay here, while (what seemed to be) the entire class attempted the advanced poses. I swear one guy was floating, but that could have been the blood rushing to my head.