A Snort in the Studio

Before I first experienced Bikram yoga, I thought I knew sweat pretty well. Sure, I don’t run marathons or throw boulders in my spare time, but when I’m not devouring M&Ms or living in my Netflix queue, I like to consider myself an athlete. I can ski moguls until my knees beg for mercy. I’m pretty feisty with a tennis racket. I once biked 84 miles in a day. So with athletic prowess as stunning as mine, you’d think I’d be something of a sweat connoisseur. That’s what my pre-Bikram self thought anyway. But less than five minutes into my first Bikram yoga experience, I realized that my pre-Bikram self could not have been more wrong.

I didn’t know sweat. I didn’t know sweat at all.

My shins, my elbows, my knees, the tops of my feet… no nook or cranny was safe from the sweat tsunami. My mom had warned me that the class would be hot, 105 degrees to be exact, and that it would be long, 90 minutes on the dot. But no warning could have prepared me for this kind of perspiration. It poured out in buckets, rained upon my towel as I contorted myself into repetitive, painful positions. And that was just the first breathing exercise.

Half-moon pose. Eagle pose. Tree pose. Camel pose. I gasped for air, completely ignoring the instructor’s cues to breathe in and out through our noses. My muscles powerfully protested the unfamiliar pain of each new posture, but I tried to keep my sweaty self composed. This proved incredibly difficult when, on top of holding each new excruciating position, I had to start dodging the rogue sweat bullets being launched from the hairy chest of the man to my right. Once or twice I desperately contemplated the consequences of a fart in the studio. (Which would be worse, the humiliation or the smell?)

I somehow managed to maintain an illusion of graceful composure until one of the very last poses of the class. We sat on our mats with our legs extended as the instructor told us to grab our big toes with our thumb and index fingers. While most of the sweaty people around me latched onto their sweaty toes with ease, I could only reach my sweaty fingers towards my sweaty toes with an air of sweaty desperation. I clenched my teeth, trembled from head to toe, felt another wave of sweat slide down my back. My hands just barely began to graze my feet. Pull, pull, pull, the instructor chanted, lock the knees, lock the knees, lock the knees. And before she finally told us to release, the instructor uttered this beauty:

“Your forehead should, eventually, touch your toes.”

I couldn’t help myself. I snorted. I actually snorted, completely abandoning any appearance of composure that I had managed to feign for 85 sweaty minutes. My neighbors didn’t seem to mind, but I figured they were just too sweaty to acknowledge me.

After such an endless and painful ordeal, you might have expected me to leave the studio with some sort of bodily injury, or a defeated limp at the very least. But as I walked out of that first class, sweaty and miserable as I may have been just minutes before, my entire being felt inexplicably awesome. My mind had cleared. My body had relaxed. And despite all life-preserving instincts advising me to the contrary, a part of me wanted to march right back into the studio and try it again.

So, ladies and gentleman, this month I am participating in a 30-day Bikram yoga challenge. It starts this week and continues until I complete 30 classes in 30 days, or melt wicked-witch style into a puddle of my own sweat, whichever comes first. If I survive the first week, you’ll hear from me again next Monday. I’m sure my forehead will be touching my toes by then.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marcia Imbrescia
    Jun 03, 2013 @ 18:56:19

    Awesome 30 day challenge. You’re in for a unique experience and I’m looking forward to following your journey via the blog. By the way, sweat bullets from hairy men is why I do Vinyasa Yoga instead of Bikram!


  2. lorirogersaccn
    Jun 03, 2013 @ 23:05:55

    So funny,,,cannot wait to hear more, Namaste.


  3. Alyssa Fallon
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 03:58:26

    Definitely excited to keep reading your blog. You’re quite funny! GOOD LUCK!!!!


  4. kerryalina
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 05:48:21

    Congrats and good luck!


  5. Allison Kraus
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 19:45:51

    This is awesome! So much fun to read! Good luck with the rest of the program. I can’t wait to hear more!


  6. Connie Aramburu
    Jun 08, 2013 @ 17:42:34

    Great blog Hannah can’t wait to read more…I used to be proud just touching my toes. haha Nannies friend Connie


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