{the life} A Firsts Class

by Rachel on February 22, 2012

Tonight’s yoga class? Was a class of firsts. Seriously, every single aspect felt new and different to me.

And it was something my workout routine seriously needed.

Last month, I was surprised to find myself kinda not excited to go to yoga. For a whole week, I just felt very eh about it. Leah was the one who finally pointed out that maybe I was just getting bored.

Oh. Right. That can happen if you aren’t careful.

It is so easy for me to get into ruts. I find something I love, I make a routine, and then I do it until I kill it. It happens all the time with food and not as much with workouts. But with boutique fitness classes, it seems like a given. I can only afford one to take classes at one studio — because every studio basically sets it up so that you  are an idiot to buy anything but an unlimited membership — so my options are pretty limited. I was doing my best to mix it up at my studio, but based on the class schedule and my work schedule, there was only so far I could go with that.

The first thing I did to combat this was find a short-term solution: I started putting my mat in a different spot in the studio. Such a small thing, right? Well, it worked surprisingly well. It literally gave me a new perspective on the class and it made things feel different enough. I was amazed that such a small change could have such a big impact on the situation.

This made me want to do more. A new studio, perhaps. Actually, I was feeling so empowered I thought, If moving my mat could do this much for me, what if I changed studios?! Yeah, that would be awesome! But that’s not enough. No…I really want to fuck shit up. I need to make a CHANGE. So I’m going to…I’m going to start doing HOT YOGA. 

Just the thought of it was really exciting. But I didn’t really tell anyone I was entertaining such thoughts. I mean, when it comes to terrifying acts that sound cool but also come with a great deal of pain — a tattoo, a Brazilian wax, anal sex, hot yoga — it’s better to just not tell people you’re thinking of doing it. Because even though they are terrified and would never do it themselves, they’ll still encourage you to do it because they totally want a firsthand account of how bad it really feels. My friends constantly pump me up to do things that they tell me are bad ass, but I’m secretly terrified of. They tell me it’s a good idea and act like they’d totally do it, so then I do it and I limp back to tell them about it and they come back with,”Holy shit! You really did that?! I would have been way too scared to do that!”

So I just kept the hot yoga plan to myself while I worked up the guts to do it.

Eventually, I worked up both the guts and the cash. I bought a Groupon for YogaOne last fall, which meant I go there at a serious discount, and I was able to set aside some money to still take one class (my favorite) at my current studio. While YogaOne is totally out of the way and inconvenient for me, I figured the drive there would be part of my whole “beating boredom” thing. Also, I’ve learned that you can either be rich and have life be convenient or you can be not rich, still do the things you want to do, and pay for it not with real dollars, but through activities like sitting in Houston traffic for 45 minutes every day.

Today was my first time doing hot yoga, though I hadn’t exactly planned on it being my first time. I actually wasn’t sure if it was going to be warm yoga (most classes at the the other studio I go to are “lightly heated” to 85 degrees) or hot yoga (AKA Bikram AKA 105 degrees). The schedule said “Hot Power Flow.” OK…so is this the Hot class? Or is this the Flow class? I had no idea. The description said Flow classes are heated to 80 or 85 degrees. I felt pretty confident that that’s what I was going to, but I also didn’t really want to know; if I knew it was going to be 105 degrees, I’d psych myself out.

Well, talk about a boredom beater! Like I said, everything about this yoga class was different, from the second I walked in. It was a class of firsts for me.

First, it’s a brand-new studio. I had been to their other location before, but this was my first time at the new one and it was nice. There’s just something about a fresh coat of paint and the smell of new wood floors that kinda gives me a boner.

And there were mirrors! I totally forgot that yoga studios have mirrors because the studio where I always go doesn’t have them. While there are times I wish it did, I’m so used to not having them, it didn’t even occur to me that this would be a thing. The novelty was so exciting.

Oh and then there was the heat. Holy mother of God, that heat. From the second I walked into the studio, I knew that this was not an 85 degree room. I wasn’t sure if it was 105 degrees, but it was in no way 85 degrees. The fresh coat of paint I mentioned was a gorgeous, deep yellow, and that, combined with the dry heat pumping into the room, gave me the sense that I was about to be barbecued. Or like I was in the VIP room in the seventh circle of Hell.

But I wasn’t leaving at that point.

So I set up my mat, which was another first. After a ton of hassle, I was able to get a refund for my shredded mat and I was toting my shiny new Manduka PROlite mat. A small change, but still enough to change up a workout.

Another fun new thing? New people to people watch! I had forgotten that this studio would likely attract different people. There were so many new faces and bodies to check out! (Yes, bodies — because I like checking out the other humans in my classes and also, there were some very shirtless men in this class, which was another new — and honestly, kinda welcome — thing about this class.)

And then in walked the new instructor. A man. Woo! I was less bored already!

So the class? Well, I did feel like the least experienced person in the class the whole time, but I wasn’t able to pay too much attention to what everyone else was doing because I was busy giving myself side glances in the new-to-me mirrors and wiping sweat out of my mouth. The instructor was fantastic — just really funny and cool. I also noticed once of my favorite instructors in the class, which made me think, Hm, this must be a damn good class then.

OK but really, it was 60 minutes of the most cleansing workout I’ve ever had. Really, that’s the best word I can think of to describe it. It was hard, but not impossible-hard or depressing-hard. It was also not as awful and hilarious as this guy makes it out to be. As you might expect, I was a sweaty mess. You know that feeling when the sweat starts pouring into your eyes? Yeah I didn’t. Until today. Despite the heat, I never felt lightheaded or dizzy. I just felt very slippery. But like I said, it felt so cleansing. And, ultimately, really amazing and invigorating. When we finally got into savasana at the end, I felt like I had truly earned it and like I had used up everything I had in the class, most of which was now in a puddle around me on the mat. But when I walked out into the lobby, I felt totally and completely energized.

(Oh and my new mat took it like a champ. I didn’t have a towel down and I didn’t slip or side on it at all.)

At the end of the class, the instructor said that the couple of us there who aren’t yoga instructors should feel good for keeping up as well as we did because it was basically a class filled with instructors. Oh! Now you tell us! Whatever. It did make me feel good. Then he went and turned down the thermostat and I was kind of bummed because I had wanted to walk by and see just what exactly I had been enduring, and, honestly, I needed to confirm whether the class was hot or if I was just a huge baby. I decided to check it out anyway. By the time I collected myself and collected my things, it was at 99 degrees. So I think it’s fair to assume it was a few degrees higher during class.



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