Tag Archives: fitness

Bikram: A Trip to Mars

Hot yoga is a trip to Mars.

You board the small little ship with mirrored walls.

The instructor walks around and makes sure everyone is properly prepared for the journey, (towel on mat, water bottle in top right corner, check, check).  She is a direct captain, but easy to follow, admirable in her stance, enviable in her sixty years that look more like forty.

Then you take off on this strange journey to a world with 37% humidity, 106 degree heat, and glowing orange light.

You move like you’re wearing a space suit, everything feels slow.  You concentrate to convince your body to cooperate.

You hate it, but you love it.

Then, 90 minutes later, the doors to the spaceship open back up, sun filters through the doorway, and cool air rushes in.  You’re done.  Swimming in sweat.  Oddly fascinated.  Invigorated.  Ready to go drink wheatgrass shots, or better yet, Kombucha.  Good thing Whole Foods is in the same parking lot.  If only you weren’t so sweaty…

Day two of Bikram down.  Determined to use all forty classes before my pass expires.  Possible addiction forming.  Must buy better gear.  Yogi transformation in progress.

Next time I’ll be better prepared for the monsoons…

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Hot Yoga: A Lesson in Anxiety

Today I overcame my fear of suffocating heat.  I went to hot yoga.  It was 105 degrees and I had to be talked into it, by three people.  Before I left my house, I almost bailed.  I was having real anxiety about not being able to breathe in a hot, crowded room.

One of my first real anxiety attacks occurred in a small, hot space.  I was on a mini-bus in Madrid.  Poor planning left the interior of the bus heated to over 100 degrees when we boarded.  Silly girl that I was, I sat in the last row, where the air strained to reach me.  It was my first real taste of claustrophobia.  I thought I was going to pass out.  I almost asked the bus driver to pull over so that I could get off.  I survived by closing my eyes and breathing.

Anxiety is a funny thing.  I remember going to the doctor in my late teens and describing some of my phantom symptoms:  random dizziness, upset stomach, shortness of breath.  The doctor asked if I had anxiety.  I said no.  I really did not think that I did.  By the time I reached 25, I figured it out.  I had anxiety, he was right all along, I just could not believe that something in my head could have so much control over my body.  I refused to medicate.  I was determined to overcome it by myself.

Flash forward a few years and most of the time I do overcome it.  I read a lot of books and realized that I need to face my fears.  This may seem simple, but real anxiety can be debilitating.  There were days that it was easier to hide from everything, to avoid life.  I had a week-long anxiety attack when I quit my job and started my teaching program, but I just kept trucking.  If I ever get a tattoo, it will say “Be brave.”

So, yesterday, when I felt anxiety’s nasty little symptoms creeping in, I knew what I was dealing with.  That’s half the battle, knowing your enemy.  The other half is facing it.  No matter how much my stomach hurt or I could not sleep thinking about it, I had to go to hot yoga.  And, yes, there were moments when I felt like I was going to pass out, when I sat on the floor and closed my eyes and breathed while everyone else kept moving.  But, I also caught myself smiling as I fought through it.  Anxiety wins if it stops me from doing something new, I win when I do it anyway.  Today, I’m happy to report I kicked anxiety’s ass.

I survived hot yoga, drenched in sweat, but smiling.

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