Hot Yoga

What I Learned from Hot Yoga (Since I Didn’t Die)

Let me just say how gratified I am that several people congratulated me on staying in the hot yoga room the entire 90 minutes without passing out or puking. It made me feel sincerely understood.

Damn, that hot yoga business is hardcore.

And I’m a boxer, telling you that. Yes, I want to go back and try again, you know, since I survived, but I will definitely do things differently next time. Here’s what I learned.

1. Drink a metric ton of water in advance.

I screwed this one up. Well, I screwed up a lot, but this one was my most wretched and dismal failure.

I had heard all the “you have to stay in there the whole 90 minutes; you can’t leave the room” warnings, and I very sensibly decided — just like I did before I sat through all 2 hours and 46 minutes, not counting previews, of The Hobbit — Hey, I won’t drink any water before it starts or I’ll have to pee, thus leaving the hot yoga room and being labeled an idiot and an annoyance (for the rest of my life).

What works for The Hobbit most emphatically does not work for hot yoga.

Here’s why. You pee through your skin during hot yoga. Buckets. Right there in front of everybody. Of course, they’re all peeing through their skin, too, so it’s all good, but my point remains. Drink PLENTY of water in advance, and don’t go in already dried out, and you’ll improve your chances of getting through the class without hurling.

(Btw, I lost 3 pounds of water weight in that 90 minutes.)

2. Take some plain water with you into class.

I was utterly dried out when I went in, but boy howdy I had my liter sized bottle of Ultima water mixed up and ready. Electrolytes! I thought.

What I didn’t count on was how feeling so nauseated would make me loathe to swallow even a mouthful of flavored water. This compounded my dehydration issue.

3. Boxers are puny weaklings.

So yes, I can punch you in the face and you will hurt. I can actually take some shots, too. But I can’t stand on one leg, cup the heel of my other foot in both hands, then extend that foot straight out in front of me. No indeedy I can’t.

I can get my Warrior pose on (and it’s side-angle relatives), thank God, and I did one curl-up-and-die pose called The Rabbit and the instructor said “Like you’ve been doing it all your life.” I wasn’t sure whether to be proud or humiliated.

But you can forget the Balancing Stick pose, the Bow pose, this lay-back-y thing, and many, many of the others that EVERYONE in the room except me did. Those people are insanely flexible, strong, and balanced.

I spent most of my time sitting on my towel, wringing wet, dizzy, and nauseated. At least I didn’t whine. I waited until I could blog my whines. I bet none of those guys can blog like me. Pansy-asses.

4. Set up your insulin levels in advance.

I’m not a diabetic, but I control my weight very closely and eat a clean diet with few processed foods or fast sugars. If I want to, I can go all morning without starting my body’s natural insulin drip with zero problems. Nothing happens (although eventually I start to feel hungry) if I don’t start the “machine.”

Since my hot yoga class was at 9 am, and I was going to be there by 8:30 am (leaving by 8 am), I figured I would wait until I got home to eat my first small meal. I didn’t want to risk eating before going and feeling ill in the heat.

Colossal mistake!

Low blood pressure (from not being hydrated) and low blood sugar made a terrible combination. Next time I’ll go ahead and have oatmeal and apples, or something similar, about an hour in advance. Nothing that seems even a little bit greasy (like eggs).

Next time.

5. You can do more than you think you can.

One thing the instructor (who was marvelous, by the way) did was constantly talk to us about taking our efforts just a touch farther. “One more centimeter,” she kept asking, and by Elvis I wanted to do it for her. I tried.

And even though I didn’t manage it during my yoga class her voice stayed with me during my regular workout the next day. “Can I do a little more, go a little further? One more centimeter?” I asked myself, over and over again. And I found I could.

You have reserves you don’t even know about, reserves you haven’t tapped. You just need someone to call it forth. And that someone can be you!

In the end…

Yes, I want to go again. I really liked the Open Door Yoga Studio and the instructor, and they have a unique “pay what you can” model that feels incredibly life-giving.

But before I go again, I want to improve my flexibility so that I have a fighting chance of accomplishing some of the poses. I’m thinking a beginner’s class, 60 minutes, room temperature. Or just practice the poses I can remember on my own some.

So if you Skype and I don’t answer, I’m probably Threading the Needle or something.

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11 Responses to What I Learned from Hot Yoga (Since I Didn’t Die)

  1. Catherine December 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    Madame. I am so proud of you for sticking with the class, and you are absolutely right. None of those pansies can blog like you can 🙂

    • Yvonne Caples December 19, 2012 at 4:02 am #

      Anyone who has done hot yoga remembers their first day of class. I started doing it at the end of my career as a pro boxer in hopes of limbering up my extremely tight shoulders and I can honestly say it is the best thing for keeping a loose, flexible body and preventing injuries. I got my 70 yr old mom into it as well and we practiced together 2 times a week at a studio in Vegas for a year.

      I am so excited to hear about this studio. I had only tried the actual “Bikram” studios in North Raleigh and Durham. Both are expensive and too far away. Looking forward to trying this one when I get back!

      Thanks for the post. It inspired me to get back to it…soon, even if only on my living room floor here in Deutschland!

  2. Lisa Creech Bledsoe December 19, 2012 at 8:09 am #

    @ Catherine — Girl, I’m SO glad you invited me up there. I’m double-triple impressed with having discovered yet another of your amazing hidden talents!

    @ Yvonne — I’m glad to hear hot yoga is a help for the boxing shoulders. If I can be in shape for it by the time you get back, you and I can get Catherine to take us both and I’ll show off my survival skills, heh.

    (Geez. Your 70 year old mom did hot yoga? Sigh. I’m about as flexible as a 2×4.)

  3. Laura December 19, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    Geez, I guess I’d better stop calling them “Posers” and show some respect.
    I felt a little queazy just reading about this, you are a tough nut lady!

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe December 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

      “Posers” Hah! That’s funny. I think you should still call them that.

  4. Girlboxing December 21, 2012 at 6:48 am #

    Do thirty minutes of sun salutations a day — we’re talking JUST 30 minutes, and you’ll have killer abs in a month never mind HOT YOGA! You rule!!!

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe December 21, 2012 at 10:07 am #

      So I had to go Google Sun Salutations — and having done one class in yoga now I know that those things are MUCH harder than they look! Learning to do one of these is a great beginning goal for me, I think. Thanks, GB!

  5. January December 26, 2012 at 12:24 am #

    I cant imagine myself doing yoga, but with my friends constant yapping on their yoga experience somehow it flickers a tiny bit interest in me,

  6. Fran December 27, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    Hey Lisa

    I always wanted to stumble across a ballet dancer, so to speak, so that I could hijack some of the flexibility work that they do to embarrass my boxers. Putting aside for one moment the abject agony that you appear to have tolerated, is it fair to assume that a major improvement in flexibility is something that I could reasonably expect to see from a hot yoga class?

  7. Fran December 27, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    By the way, great site. Some smart boxing observations delivered with a light-hearted edge.

  8. Lisa Creech Bledsoe December 27, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    @ January — I’ve always done stretching with my workouts, but THIS. This is totally different, and I gotta say, it truly isn’t just about stretching. Those guys have a shocking amount of strength, as well. You and I both would benefit from a few good yoga classes, I think. Lotta shoulder stuff in there, btw…

    @ Fran — Dude, hey! LOVE your site; very informative stuff. Re: a significant improvement in flexibility, yes. AND strength, which was an insight that really surprised me. I realize boxing is made up of more short, fast movements, but learning to hold strongly flexed positions seemed like a great way to add core strength and balance to boxing, both of which are very powerful tools in our sport.

    Thanks so much for dropping by and adding to the conversation, both of you. I hope you’ll visit again!

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