Hot yoga

Every five or six years I try yoga, go to one class, feel shamed by my inability to balance and concentrate and quickly renew my claim to not like it, never mind the fact that so many people I know greatly enjoy yoga and/or ARE TOTALLY OBSESSED with it. Most recently, I was talked into a hot yoga class.

When I found out the yoga studio was in Brentwood, I grimaced. I was quickly given shit and reminded that Brentwood is only 20 minutes away. Because I've gotten used to the accessibility of my neighborhood in East Nashville and because I don't like cars, driving, or rush hour, to me Brentwood is psychologically much further away but I relented because I felt like I was being a dick and that, I'm guessing, is not what yoga is about.

Nicki told me that I needed to bring a bath towel, water, and to arrive a half hour early. The class started at 4:30; I left home at 3:00. Lest you think I was being jumpy and neurotic, I'll tell you that it took me 20 minutes just to get to the right highway because Nashville traffic can be awful. I know people from bigger cities go, "You call that traffic? I'll show you traffic!" and get all proud of how terrible they have it but I disagree. The roads here can't support the number of cars on them and it makes everyone standstill on a regular basis. Standing still is great when you are in a yoga class trying to follow your instructor's order to be the tree, not so great when three highways are narrowing to two lanes and miles of red brake lights.

Example: Interstate traffic was so slow on my way to yoga that a man selling The Contributor newspaper chose to sell from where the on-ramp meets the merging lane because cars were creeping along slowly enough to stop and hand him a buck.

Example: I was going slowly enough to snap photos of stopped cars to text to Matthew, "So fucking relaxing!" even though I don't believe in texting while driving.


I finally made it to 65 South and picked up speed. That's when I realized that I forgot to bring a towel and water. I had a brand new yoga mat I bought at Target and an athletic tank top compressing my midsection JUST IN CASE I got ballsy in yoga and tried to stand on my head and didn't want my shirt to fly up. Looking back, this was a precaution I need not have worried about.

Ah well, I thought, I'm still early enough that I'll find the studio and I should still have enough time to stop somewhere and pick up a towel and water. It's the suburbs, there will be shopping centers. Once I located Fahrenheit Yoga, I pulled into a parking lot and searched nearby stores. There was a Target but even closer, there was a Publix supermarket. I thought about the Kroger by our house, the one we casually refer to as "murder Kroger" where there's always a changing miscellaneous section that sells random crap like towels.

This Brentwood Publix was not murder Kroger. I walked the aisles quickly, running out of time, looking for towels. When it became clear there were none, I noticed every item with absorbent properties and imagined different scenarios: showing up for yoga with a bag of cotton balls, wiping my forehead with Pampers, covering my mat with paper napkins. Dang it. Then I saw the blankets and knew I was bringing an orange fleece blanket to hot yoga.


The woman behind the front desk at the studio asked if I'm Jessica and informed me that since I'm a new student, I get a starting deal of 10 classes for $10. I'd paid $20 online for one class which seemed STEEP so it was cool to hear that I was now getting a price that was 20 times better but it meant I needed to come nine more times to make it work. Fahrenheit Yoga is so sneaky already, trying to trick me out of quitting right away. If they think that money is the way to make a "This hurts, I'm stopping" person into a "No pain, no gain" person, well, in my case they are right.

I was given a tour and instructions: if I feel lightheaded I am to lie down with my feet toward the wall and head toward the mirror and I was to put my "towel" over my mat. I laid my fleece blanket over my mat, giving the impression that I had arrived not to get all centered and whatnot but to have a picnic. Back in the locker room, I overheard a girl telling her friend that she lies on her stomach and meditates while waiting for the instructor to arrive. And I may be wrong but then it sounded like she also made fun of someone's blanket. The combination of the locker room setting and the fact that I showed up with funny looking stuff is giving me flashbacks to the first day of seventh grade and my goofy tie-dyed shorts.

Upon returning to the studio I laid on my stomach as if to meditate but I really just checked out everyone as they come in. To my mind, the other students were all perfect; my inferiority complex was kicking into high gear. The people who weren't meditating were doing complex looking stretches and backbends, calmly twisting this way and that. I felt defensive. I was thinking that if I'm going to do yoga, I need to find a low rent YMCA somewhere.

This defensiveness had been brewing since I'd left my home, when I put on baggy sweats and Matthew's metal band hoodie over my tight yoga gear and pronounced, "I am NOT wearing yoga clothes in public!" and "I will NOT get smoothies at Whole Foods after my yoga class!" Even though I love smoothies and have been eating one a day lately and certainly no one was ordering me to do anything.


The class started with a series of breathing exercises. I don't know if it was just the hotness of the room or that I haven't exercised in a long time but I got really lightheaded and almost passed out. I opened my eyes as wide as possible because I felt like if I blinked I'd fall over and I concentrated on staring at myself in the mirror. I know they told me to lie down if I needed to, but the class started TWO MINUTES AGO. I have pride.

I made it through and sweated a river for an hour and half. I did lie down several times later in the class, my ankles wobbled, my knees cracked, and I had to do a lot of peeping to follow along with the others but the instructor was nice. There weren't many moments when it felt good per se, but I was able to imagine that it might feel better if I stick with it more than I have historically. At the end, we laid on our backs in the darkened room while someone walked around, sticking cold lavender-scented hand towels in our hands. I took that sucker, draped it over my face, and fully accepted the instructor's invitation to stay there as long as I needed to. Eventually I sat up, wiped off all the orange blanket fuzz that was coating my sticky skin and tried not to think too hard about the next nine times.

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