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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hello, My Fellow Sparklers!

A bit of warning: The following might sound like a lot of complaining, so if you're not in the mood to handle a little of the negative, you might want to sit this one out. It's only my account of some brief, unpleasant experiences in my life, not typical of my usual sunny disposition. I'm very interested to hear about your yogic adventures. I SO want to be a yogi (I mean yoga-doer, not the guy siting on top of a mountain in diaper, seeking enlightenment. But that would be cool, too). So far, the closest I've come is fandom of yogi berra.

Did you see the SparkPeople article about "Hot Yoga"? I started to write a comment in response to it, but my comment got really long (oh loquacious me!), so I decided to make it a blog post instead. (And, of course, I've added more to it.)

I have had very limited experience with yoga. The first time I ever tried it I was supposed to meet some friends from work at a class. Long story short... They didn't show up. I fell over. I decided to not attend a yoga class again until I had practiced a little. I went home and ordered some yoga DVDs to do at home and never used them.

One thing that has always been difficult for me with yoga is that the types of yoga have different names (from Sanskrit?) At the place I'm about to tell you about they had the names of the types of yoga on the schedule, but these names were completely foreign to me. I had no idea what kind of yoga each one stood for. Sure, I could have Googled these, but I really think they should have had a "key" (i.e., definitions) on the schedule. Even when the instructors would say that a certain type of yoga was "stretching" or "strengthening" or "flowing" I could never remember which was which.

Fast forward a few years, living in another state now. A new yoga studio had opened in my area and offered a really good deal on a one-month trial membership. I purchased their trial deal. The class times didn't work well with my schedule, so I wasn't able to attend as many as I would have liked. The class time that did work better with my schedule was hot yoga, so in about the third week of my trial membership, I tried it. When I attended the other other yoga classes I had established a habit of taking a place in the back of the room by the door to the hall because I was trying to be inconspicuous, but the mirrors prevented that. At the beginning of each class the instructors always asked if anyone had any "special issues" that they should be aware of & I always informed them of my history of back injury. (By then my back pain had mostly resolved, but had left my back muscles weak & unstable at that time.) They generally seemed to forget about that later, though and one instructor seemed determined to try to get me to stand on my head. (I had to work up my, "Either you're crazy or you think I'm stupid" look.) The usual comment from the instructors after class was that although I was flexible, I needed to work on "challenging" myself and focus more on the strengthening exercises. (Did you not HEAR me when I told you about my back injury, because you responded like you understood!!!???) In general, I felt really judged there. Much more so by the instructors than by my fellow "students", which was not at all what I had expected.

When I decided to attend the hot yoga class I did not realize that I was supposed to bring a towel & the studio didn't have any to lend. I did bring my own yoga mat because I had learned that it was very uncomfortable for me to do the poses on their TILE floor with the very thin mats they provided. I was glad to hear that they "sanitized" their mats after every class, but considering how unimpressed I was with the instructors there, I'm thinking that they do this only as a legal requirement.

So, when I decided to try the hot yoga class I only had a week left on my trial membership and I wasn't planning to continue after end of the month. I had to leave the room to cool off because I felt like I was overheating under their heat lamps (they were hanging from the ceiling like we were food at a "drive thru". I saw a review on their website from someone experienced in yoga & this person was adamant that this is not how the rooms are supposed to be heated). The instructor actually came out to the place where I was, in the carpeted hall area by the changing rooms (it was by the back door to the place & --this is strange: the door was LOCKED --fire exit, anyone?-- so there was no "traffic" there & I wasn't in anyone's way). I was minding my own business, cooling down & trying to do some yoga poses out there, and she says that I shouldn't be going in & out of the room, back & forth between hot & cold. (The article here recommends leaving the room if you're overheating.) So, I said, "Okay, I'll leave, then." I stayed for a few minutes, just to stretch & cool down and then I left and never went back.

This experience hasn't put me off yoga entirely, though. I've been meaning to try a "Plus Sized Yoga" class in my area. The instructor identifies herself as a "Plus Sized" woman and I'm looking forward to feeling more comfortable and accepted there. I've been by the place and the room is more like a dance studio; I'm happy to report that they don't have tile floors. This one is really just stretching yoga (whatever that's called), not fitness yoga like the classes I attended. I really hope that, this time, I can get into it. Maybe, to semi-quote the great Mr. Berra, yoga (like baseball) "is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical".

Have you tried yoga, hot or not? Your thoughts?

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • BUTTERFLY-1976
    I tried hot yoga last month & ended up loving it. It didn't start off that way though. My first class was difficult
    1. I almost fell over (so thankful that I was next to the wall & the wall saved me from hitting the floor)
    2. She called out the yoga names & didn't do the pose, so I was lost
    3. It was quick poses, I couldn't keep up or even do some of the pose (due to my weaknesses). I use to do a yoga class a few years ago & it was more stretch & hold...this class was pose for a few seconds & move on to the next.
    4. I felt intimidated & out of place. Everyone in the class knew what they were doing (and were good at it), they were fit & sporting their expensive clothes & mats (very intimidating).

    I keep with it & after a few classes I was loving it. Gone were my worries about how I looked & didn't care that I was wobbely or couldn't do a pose. The teacher was helpful also...I didn't understand some of the moves & she helped me after class with solutions. I was very upset when I found out she wasn't going to be doing it anymore.

    So in the end.... I LOVE hot yoga. I like the heat cause I felt like I could stretch more deeply & it also was a huge insentive to go (as it's really cold here. so the thought of a hot room is intising).

    Hope you can find a class that works for you & with teachers that listen to what you say.
    1888 days ago

    I do the "stretching" yoga....I think I've made a lot of it up....Yay, the best kind.
    What ever form I'm trying to do it helps my joints, my stress, my flexibility, and it's easy. What choices we have, it's all good! emoticon
    1906 days ago
    Yoga doesn't see to work for me given my hip structure. I gravitate towards stretching programs similar to those that are done with warm-ups in dance classes.
    The stretching DVD's that I like coincidentally have been created by former dancers.
    1908 days ago
    I've done a little yoga. No idea which kind it is, since - like you - I get confused by the names. :) But I've done the more gentle stretching and relaxing yoga, as well as the one where you flow between poses and hold strength poses and such. I like it. I always feel nice and stretched out and good afterwards - mainly because of the hour of deep breathing, I think. I would definitely never try hot yoga, though! You're brave. It sounds dangerous and totally unpleasant to me. I'm glad you just went ahead and left that one. And wow, those previous yoga experiences of yours sound miserable. I can't believe you're not completely turned off by now - I would be! I'm glad you've found this plus size yoga to try. That sounds much more welcoming! I hope you have a good time when you try it. :)

    1909 days ago
    cant understandoga need for "HOT" y
    1909 days ago
    I've gone to a few 'snob yoga' classes also. These are the classes where skinny minis go to outperform each other's poses. I spent a lot of my time in the Sleeping Child position whilst taking some rabid glares from some of my surrounding yogis.

    Geeze oh Pete...if I want to be judged...I'll go on Dancing with the Stars! emoticon

    I have some yoga dvds and like my 'in house' lessons just fine! emoticon
    1909 days ago
    I do yoga 3 or 4 times a week. I go to a local County Recreation Center for classes. I took some paid classes, but now do the drop-in classes that are free with my Rec Center pass. I've had a number of different instructors, and only one that I wouldn't go back to. One of my instructors is very upbeat and fun. Her classes are physical and fun. We move a lot and work up a sweat. She always says "listen to your body" and only go as far as you can. She's had people in her class that couldn't get down to the floor, so they did yoga using a chair. She welcome us all. Another instructor I like is really sweet and soft-spoken. She is big on listening to your body as well. She'll say "when your body feels ready, put your left foot back and move into Warrior 2." A third instructor is a little Japanese woman who is incredibly flexible. She teaches us different breathing techniques. We move slowly, but hold the poses for longer periods of time. There again, we only go as far as we can so we don't get hurt. She gives us options for poses that accommodate our various physical abilities. The one instructor I walked out on barged ahead from pose to pose without paying any attention to what the class was doing. She was doing all kinds of advanced poses like shoulder stand and plow that I couldn't hope to safely duplicate.

    I really wish you could come to yoga with me and see the variety of ages and physical types that can all enjoy yoga in a supportive setting. Don't be afraid to try it again until you find an instructor you like. And don't be afraid to walk out on someone who is not listening to you.
    1909 days ago
    It seems to me that the first places you tried were unprofessional and rude. Yoga is all about gentle movements, only going as far as your body will allow at first, then gradually increasing in flexibility. It doesn't seem like they were doing that. But I'm glad you stuck with it and found an instructor who is more understanding. (A little funny thing here: when I read your blog, I missed the word "tile," so I thought you were writing that the new yoga place had no floors. Hahaha!) I've never tried a yoga class, though I have tried to do some at home. Personally I don't like the idea of hot yoga because I don't do well in heat in general, much less when exercising.

    Hope all goes well for you!
    1910 days ago
    Several years ago, but is was just stretching yoga. I am very stiff and many of the poses I could not do, but I did not feel uncomfortable. Was at a gym with a bunch of ladies and felt it was beneficial for anyone's breathing. Think it all depends on the instructor, have had three different ones over the years. I am still not very flexible, but think the other benefits are worth it. Enjoy!
    1910 days ago
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