The runner girl goes to hot yoga

23 May 2014

Somehow our little friend group was formed.  Julie and myself, and three guys in a house up the street.  Every night, we find something new to do.  Bonfires, night games, cards, watch TV, watch J.D. watch cat videos, cook "family" dinners, play with their human sniper rifles, go out to restaurants at 10 pm and spy on people's dates.  Yesterday the text came from Cade: "Tonight let's get dinner at the food trucks."

All the Utah Valley food trucks come together one night a week and form a large circle.  Like a giant food court on wheels with every human, child, and dog packed in the center.  We huddle together around our little table, eating tacos from the most ghetto looking van of them all.  "Chantel, it looks like the rape vans you run away from."  Because my sister's friend told me when I was six that every large white van with tinted windows is full of kidnappers and they'll snatch me up if I walk too close.  Still have a complex about that.  And also she told me that if I look straight at the sun I'll go blind, and that someday all my freckles will merge together into one giant brown circle on my face.  I told her that her porcelain dolls will kill her in the night.

"Yep, that is the exact van that a rapist would have."
J.D - "Serve tacos by day, rape by night."
Jordan - "It's probably close to the shift change.  Chefs go home, rapists come in."
Cade - "Their motto - No one gets raped hungry."
Well that escalated quickly.

So we finish our meal and Cade says, "Hot yoga anyone?  Starts in 30 minutes."  Sure.  So we push our way through the crowd and head home to change.

My experience with yoga has been... interesting.  The first time I tried it in college off a DVD, and I laughed so hard that I ended up just sitting cross-legged on my living room floor and holding my face.  The next time was with my best friend Chelsea when I went home to visit her.  She's a certified yoga teacher, so I went to her class to wait for her, but decided to join in.  It was a mother-child class, so I was far more successful making cow sounds and running around the room as a bird.  And the final time was at my gym last summer.  I took my lunch break to try this whole yoga de-stressing thing, thinking it's time I took it seriously.  But after wobbling around in all the poses, feeling just a bit of strain but also not quite enough, I left halfway through.  I like either hard and heavy work-outs or being completing sedentary.  Yoga was a tease of the two.

But why not give hot yoga a try?  I like saunas.

So we all rummage through our work-out clothes, finding just the blend of light spandex and tank tops to spare some of the heat.  We grab our towels to soak up the sweat, and we're on our way, picking up our friend Drea who is also a certified yogi.  We turn Jordan's AC on full blast, thinking how great an idea to ice ourselves out before going in.  Clearly our concerns were anchored to one factor.

We enter the gym, which is generally used for martial arts, and get our equipment from the corner.  Drea rolls out her mat near the front, and we all set up behind her.  Of course Julie and I pick the far side.

The instructor comes out, a small blonde girl who keeps giggling into the microphone.  She turns off all the lights, clicks on a couple small lamps by her mat at the front, and cranks up the heat.  We start by laying on the mat and breathing deeply.  Her voice is slow and gentle.  I expect this to be a relaxing session, full of easy stretching, having our battle with the heat as the crux of the work-out.

Gradually the instructor has us sit up and being stretching.  Stretching our hamstrings, stretching our backs, planking in downward dog.  Her instructions become loud as she instructs us to plank and then come up in warrior pose.  Over and over, adding a harder pose each time.  We are resting in downward dog -  "now lift your hands off the mat."  Like levitate?  Still upside-down, Julie and I look at each other.

"Now reach back and wrap your arm around your left leg, grab your calf.  Now lift your other leg in the air."  This is a horrible game of twister.

"Now lift your leg all the way up, so you are doing a straight one-legged split."  What?  What if my leg can't even go perpendicular?  

"Good, now tuck in and scissor kick to the other side."  Scissor what?   

"Good - you'll get it."  Which is a way of saying, "you all suck."   

"Now let's do that again only faster.  Legs planted, grab your leg, lift up, scissor kick to the other side, up in warrior pose, now chattaranga" - What in the freak is a chattaranga?

Lady Limbs keeps going.  "Up dog, down dog, grab your leg, lift up into the splits, scissor kick, CHATTARANGA."  


And she's going so fast that the moves aren't registering in my head, so now I keep interpreting "downward dog" as laying flat face down, while everyone around me is up and moving their arms and legs in perfect rhythm with her instruction.  So I jump back up, putting my butt back in the air, and try to lift, but then my mat gets all scrunched up, and when I kick, I just trip over it, so I smooth it out and try to plank again, but her instructions are now even faster that they are just one full word, and all I can hear is "chattaranga," and I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS!

But I keep going, jumping and lifting and planking and wrapping my arms around something, and then I pause to smooth out my mat again, which has shifted two feet to the right so I'm right up against Julie, but everyone else's mat is always perfectly flat and never budges.  Of course.  Everyone here is like a yoga ballerina.  And I am a mess.

Lady Limbs is still barking out instructions rapid fire, so I again quickly put my leg in the air, in some flamingo stance, and push off my hands so I'm fully up, and then scissor kick to the other side.  Oh I pray no one is watching me.  And then.... I knee myself right in the mouth.

I fall into downward dog,  MY downward dog, and I lay there laughing quietly.  But as I watch everyone around me bending and kicking entirely in sync, my snickering only gets worse because this is just insane!  Am I part of a huge joke?  Which only makes me laugh harder.  To ease the pressure of trying to stay quiet, I bite hard on my left shoulder.

And the class proceeds in perfect cadence while I give myself a hickey.

Finally that sequence ends, and the instructors voice goes back to being calm and gentle, and I feel okay again.  Julie and I look at each other in complete exasperation, both of our hair completely wild and unkempt.  One would never know that I once had a ponytail.

We all stand up in warrior pose and stretch all around.  "Now, we will do a tripod!"  She guides us into standing on our heads with one leg pointed outward, and the other curled up on top of our elbows.  I fumble around, not understanding what goes where and how I end up on my head, but at least I'm kind of upside-down!

I see Drea between my legs.  She's still as water, perfectly balanced and stretched in every direction.  So I just do some upside-down pretending - whatever that means - until we are instructed to come back up.

"Good, now we'll do the other side."  So Lady leads us through the moves again, all the way down to our heads.  This time I lift up and I'm balanced!  LADY LIMBS COME LOOK! 

And then while my butt is completely up in the air, and the rest of my body is folded right up underneath it, my eyes focus through the darkness and I see this staring straight at me:

Of course.  Because why wouldn't that would be in a Martial Arts gym?  Nothing like a punching bag man looming over me in the darkness and staring at my butt, while I stare right back.  Welcome to this view of my life, sir.

After we hold the position for awhile, we are told to stand up in tree-star-love pose.  Or something.  Then the session proceeds with us bending one limb, and looping through another, and then linking our hands, and then kissing something.  No matter how earnestly I try, I keep reaching through my legs and grabbing my own butt.  And no, I cannot kiss my shin.

Finally we are allowed to lay back down on the mat, close our eyes, and relax.  Which is what I thought this whole session was supposed to be like.  I don't know what just happened in the middle there.  Lady Limbs turns on some relaxing music, and we all breathe deeply.  I feel horrified.

The lights come on, and my friends and I look over at each other.  Their faces are all red and backs all sweaty.  For the first time, I realize I didn't even notice the heat!  While everyone was experiencing this awakening hour of smooth and true hot yoga, I was experiencing a catastrophic, unrecognizable fight routine in my dark little corner with Punch Man.

We pack up our equipment and gather our belongings to leave.  I pause for one final moment at the door.....

Any ceiling cameras?  Nope.  Okay, I'm good.

"Hey guys, let's go kayaking next week instead."

Here's to movie moments in your own life.

Upward and onward,

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  1. This is hilarious. You are a modern day Lucy.

  2. You should read "Poser" -- it's about a woman who discovers a love of yoga after feeling nearly how you felt during your first hot yoga experience. As a woman about to marry a yoga teacher, I can assure you it gets easier--and more fulfilling as you improve your practice :)