There was once a time that I thought of myself as strong. But I have met my match, in the form of the new agey, sizzling activity known as HOT YOGA.
I am a 5′8″ cardio addict and gym rat. Walking, running, elliptical training, hiking, biking, kick boxing… you name it, I love it. When it comes to aerboic activity, I am confident and gung-ho. However, something has been missing from my workout routine – a little something known as “strength training.”
After having it recommended to me subsequently by my friends Mary, Matt, and Blake, I decided to give hot yoga a shot this afternoon. In case you haven’t heard of it, hot yoga is yoga (all those freaky bendy poses) in a 105 degree, 40% humidity, swelter-chamber. Never having done any yoga before, let alone hot yoga, it would be baptismal by sweat for me. Luckily, I was feeling adventurous, and so I showed up in my shorts and tank top, ready to take on anything.
And I was put through 90-minutes of absolute slogging.
Let me let you in on a little secret about Annie: I like to be in control AT ALL TIMES. I prefer situations for which I can plan ahead, dress appropriately, look cute the whole time, not draw any undesired attention to myself, and always, always succeed. But today, hot yoga shattered that calm, composed version of myself. I did not know that my body could sweat so much; I was unaware that eyelids and ear lobes and ankles and fingers were capable of perspiration. My body was twisted and stretched into bizarre contortions, worked over until every limb was shaking – nay, trembling – from fatigue. My ass has never been so kicked.
And just like that, I am hooked.
Ironically, the reason that I loved the experience so much? The mirrors. For a girl with pretty significant body image issues, I would have thought that an hour and a half of watching myself bend and shake and stretch and grimace – in short, confront my physical limitations – would be just about as appealing as having toothpicks shoved underneath my toenails. But I was shocked and amazed to discover that the opposite was true. Yes, at times I felt weak and inadequate – but simultaneously, I felt strong and amazed at what my body is capable of. Beneath the lacquer of sweat, I watched my muscles in action.
And wonder of wonders, I never once criticized the image in the mirror.
And that is reason enough to return.