Trying something new is scary.
Trying something new that involves bending and contorting your body in a 105 degree room by yourself at six o’clock in the morning is even scarier.
I love yoga and believe wholeheartedly that it benefits the mind, body, and soul And so, in the spirit of looking at things in a new perspective, I found myself staring at the door of Dana Hot Yoga in Glenside at 6 A.M. on a Tuesday morning. Before you go around getting wild ideas that I am a person who is comfortable showing up to random studios on my own in the early morning light, I will be the first to admit that I attempted to recruit a total of EIGHT individuals to come with me. Unsurprisingly, they all said no, as I am the only serious morning person of all of my yoga-practicing friends.
After approximately fifteen minutes of standing outside pretending to be enthralled in something on my phone (we all do it), I realized that I was being ridiculous and so in I went. The room that opened up in front of me was warm, but not unbearable, and smelled like a mix of wood and essential oils which is right up my alley. I had already paid for the class (shoutout to Groupon); after being checked in I was told to leave my belongings in a cubby in the main room and to head into the studio. My first mistake was thinking that the studio and the front room would be the temperature. I hit an absolute wall of heat and immediately started to panic. How was I going to survive the next hour?
I had gotten there early enough to secure a spot in the back, as I wasn’t prepared to let strangers witness my struggling yet. All I had done was lay down my mat and towel and the sweat was coming. I could feel it, and I was scared.
A petite, young woman named Brittany sat on a mat in the front of the room facing the group of women (and me, the awkward gal sitting in the back). Music started in the background and she began by chanting “Om,” and then we were off. It was a pretty standard class, flowing through Sun Salutation A and B; we did some Vinyasa through different standing poses, and she didn’t introduce anything that I was unfamiliar with (which was nice). Because it was a class catered to people at all levels, she provided modifications and suggestions for those (me) who are not at an advanced level.
The heat of the room in hot yoga is supposed to loosen muscles in order to deepen stretches and detoxify the body through legitimately sweating out everything you have in you. It’s also supposed to aid in relaxation and concentration by (I’m assuming) making your only priority not dying of heat stroke while a fit yogi is pushing you to both your physical and mental limits.
Here’s the incredible thing.
After about 15 minutes of continuous movement in the room, I was so drenched in sweat that I no longer felt hot. I could go deeper into poses and hold them for longer, and instead of feeling fatigued after half an hour, I was wishing that I had opted for a 90 minute class rather than a 60 minute session. In an hour of hot yoga, I had finished the entire contents of my 32 oz. water bottle, and I was positively dripping in sweat. It was GREAT.
The class ended with an eight minute Savasana (or cool down sesh where you lay on the ground for a while not moving) and by the time we finished our practice with “Namaste” I was already starting to get chilly as the door was opened and air of a regular temperature began filtering in.
The 70 degree air outside felt freezing, but as I walked to my car I realized how good I felt and how prepared I was for the day ahead. It was a truly rewarding experience, and it proved to me that looking at things in a different light is rarely a bad idea. I entered feeling apprehensive and, let’s be honest, scared, but I left with a feeling of pride and excitement which made the whole experience worth it. Gaining a new perspective of something that I had thought I knew about was really great, and I really recommend that everyone step out of their comfort zone, as you never know when you’re going to find something that you end up loving.
My main advice for anyone who wants to give it a try? Bring water.