Fitness · yoga

Stretching, Sweating, Strengthening: My Return to Hot Yoga


My yoga class was scheduled for 8 am on Sunday. After some working-backwards schedule calculation, I set my alarm for 6:45. Since I don’t often get up at 6:45 on Sundays unless I have a race to run, I laid out all of my gear the night before. I figured the less thinking I had to do, the better.

I kept telling myself this wasn’t a big deal, but it sure felt like one. I almost expected to have anxiety dreams.

Luckily, I didn’t, and successfully rousted myself Sunday morning. A cold steady drizzle fell outside, and I thought, “Well, okay. This is good. Whatever butterflies I feel right now, I would much rather sweat in a yoga studio than run outside in that.”

Since I had never been to this studio before, I aimed to get there early-ish in case there was a crowd. As it turned out? No need. I rolled up around 7:40 to…a dark building.


I decided to wait in my car for a little bit, and was rewarded shortly thereafter when two more cars pulled in. One of them was the instructor, Julia. Whew!

After introducing myself, locating the bathrooms and cubbyholes, and stashing everything that needed stashing, I slipped into the studio itself and parked myself on my mat.

Okay, now it was starting to come back to me.

The class wasn’t crowded — maybe seven or eight students — so thankfully, everyone had plenty of space. This is HUGE in yoga, especially hot yoga, when the sweat tends to, well, fly around quite a bit.

As for the actual yoga? I’m happy to report: it was good. I did NOT melt into a puddle. I felt challenged (there are a couple of poses that I just can’t do, at least not yet), but thankfully I remembered a lot of things from my previous yoga experience. AND (maybe because it was an early class?) Julia moved at a pace that I could more or less keep up with.

Did I do everything perfectly? Nope. Was I visibly the newbie? Yup.

Did I care? Nope.

It felt good to be dripping with sweat. It felt good to stretch and twist my body in ways that it doesn’t usually get stretched or twisted.

At the end of class, as we all lay in savasana, I wondered: would this be the kind of class where everyone just chills (literally and figuratively!) and then tiptoes out, or would the instructor impart some insightful wisdom, best appreciated and absorbed when sweaty and prone, before sending us off?  Honestly, both can be nice.

The answer was: neither. As we lay there, Julia walked quietly from student to student and laid cool, wet washcloths, imbued with a lovely fragrance that I couldn’t quite identify, on our foreheads.

It was heavenly. It was such a simple gesture, but I was so touched that I found myself crying a little. On that morning, that one tiny act of kindness did more for me than any inspirational words could have.

I guess that’s the magic of yoga – it helps in ways we can’t even imagine. I will definitely be going back.


4 thoughts on “Stretching, Sweating, Strengthening: My Return to Hot Yoga

  1. I don’t do the poses quite the way the instructor does (regular yoga is hot enough for me!), but I try… and it DO stretch in places that need stretching!

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