Sweating for dummies

I’m a hypocrite. The things I mock and show the greatest disdain for, are usually the things I most want to do myself. This was true 8 years when I finished a marathon, a goal I had previously described as pointless and idiotic. There’s also falling in love at first sight (naive and irresponsible), writing a solo show (self-indulgent) and clipping out coupons (might as well be on food stamps). Given that I have now succumbed to all of the above, I fear it’s only a matter of time before I start playing golf, download a Willie Nelson song and buy an appliqued holiday cardigan.

But in the meantime I’ve started doing yoga. I used to have a t-shirt with the slogan ‘Yoga Kills’. I proudly claimed to have never sat through a single yoga class. I’ve now been to 3 in less than a week.

Worse is the fact that it’s Bikram Yoga, also known as hot Yoga. Hot as in the room being heated to 105 degrees, so that we all slip and slide together in one big orgastic cluster.  

When my friend Lauren told she’d signed up for an introductory month of Bikram, I rolled my eyes and made suitably disparaging noises as she talked about how much you sweated, got dizzy, etc. ‘yeah, sounds great’ I said in my best sarcastic, world-weary tone, trying not to sound as enthusastic as I really was when I asked when she’d next be going.

Two days later I met her at the studio and signed up for my own introductory month. The room was packed with people and as I walked in, the smell of stale sweat and the rush of heat was overpowering. Carpeted floors strikes me as a bad idea when you’re sweating that profusely. Lauren had pre-warned me that I’d probably feel dizzy and need to rest at some point, so of course I knew that I couldn’t possibly rest no matter how dizzy I was.

You need to wear clothes, just not very many. Most women wore sports bras and shorts which was fine, but the men in lycra shorts were a bit distracting due to the obvious outline of their balls which fascinates me for some reason. The mirrored walls on three sides didn’t help. You’re supposed to just look ahead but of course it’s impossible not to check out everyone else and figure out where you stand in terms of best overall body. I think I was about 5th.

I also discovered that Bikram is a bit culty. You’re told not to leave the room, even if you get pukey and there’s specific points when you can drink water – the first time is just after the Eagle Vishnatu pose, which is a name I just made up. Also, the usual newbie positioning techniques don’t apply. For example, don’t try and hide at the back of the room as this is the hottest part of the oven and coveted by the old-timers. And don’t worry about having to be upfront near the teacher as this is where the show-offy students go. Somewhere in the middle of the room is a safe bet. Best not to announce yourself as new, unless you want to be regularly singled out for something you’re doing wrong. I’ve never heard my name called so many times in 90 minutes. Except for a few marathon shag sessions.

The class definitely gets tiresome. The positions never change and you hold them for longer than seems natural or necessary. But there’s a certain pleasure in seeing all the sweat droplets on your body that makes you feel all Olivia Newton John and suggests that you’re working out a lot harder than you really are.

The aftermath of class is hideous. You walk out of the room into the cold and all the sweat turns icy and that lovely feeling of being hot and sweaty becomes cold and clammy. It’s as if you just rolled into the wet spot. If you don’t have a change of clothes or a dry towel it’s a very unpleasant drive home. 

I think I may be developing a sweat addiction.I’ve got 3 weeks left on my trial membership and if I’m not too busy shopping in Walmart or taking knitting classes I’ll be signing up for more.