Hot Box- Torture or Serenity?

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So the one form of exercise I do is yoga. I’ve been considering trying Bikram (hot yoga) for at least 15 years but been way too intimidated. Firstly- the heat: It is 104 degrees/ 40 Celcius with 40% humidity. I’ve also heard it isn’t my kind of yoga because there is no chanting, it isn’t for frou frou dirty hippies, and is the exact same class no matter where you are in the world.  There must be something, though, because people swear by it. (just not in the way that I appreciate foul-mouthed swearing). These bikram yogis are committed. They are like Crossfit committed which is too intense for my taste and I have a hard time committing to anything that might involve rituals of pain and suffering.

Oh Nuts

The only reason I decide to go is because my girlfriend in Los Angeles once told me that she goes just so that she can see the private nether regions of a super hot actor, (who shall remain nameless). Yes. Nuts have been known to fall out when put in certain positions. I’ve had my fair share of wardrobe malfunctions and because I have a puerile sense of humor, this is enough reason for me to go.
When researching Bikram Yoga, one thing I find encouraging is that everything says it is best not to push yourself. Many suggest taking breaks if the extreme heat makes you dizzy. I did gentile geriatric yoga with my mother once and she stayed in child’s pose for the entire class. My mom doesn’t like to overexert herself…ever.

The Heat

There is a lot written about the heat. Everything says to breathe through the nose so you don’t panic, trigger your fight or flight response and get your heart rate going crazy. Huh? This sounds ridiculous. Are we talking about a war zone or yoga? According to the Mayo Clinic, signs you should look out for when diagnosing heat exhaustion include ‘heavy sweating, dizziness and a weak, rapid pulse.’ This is my general demeanor during school drop off and driving on Rue d’Arlon automatically means a sweat mustache so it won’t be that much of a stretch for my body.

My First Class

I’ve heard you shouldn’t wear a lot of clothes because you will sweat a lot. I am 39 years old and have had two children therefore, I am going to go out on a limb and say I look better when clothed. No one needs to see that, however, I walk into the class and it is 9 billion degrees. Immediately, my clothes are like wet rags. I rip off my shirt and consider eliminating my trousers…only I don’t have on underwear and I’d hate to get arrested at my first class. When lying on my back, I feel like I am a hamburger being heated by those super hot lamps at fast food restaurants. I am worried my skin might melt off. Then we start with the breathing. I learn this is a ‘warm up.’ I worry my triceps might fall off and I hear we do all 26 postures twice. Did I mention all I’m doing is breathing?

Just Breathe

The sweat has started dripping in my eyes, like I don’t have eyebrows. I consider wearing goggles the next time. But I hate swimming so I don’t own any.
I am dying for a drink of water but was told that at the other studios, you get yelled at for drinking. Thank, Christ- I chose Hot Box. This is apparently not one of those studio so I grab my water. I’ve been told that Hot Box in Strassen with Sheelagh is the nice studio. Maybe the heat is getting to my brain but I’m starting to feel that Sheelagh might actually be the most encouraging, kindest human on the planet. She smiles and laughs and gives me help even though I’ve forgotten the difference between left and right and I think I just heard myself grunt. She tells everyone in their first class that all they have to do is stay on the mat. They can sit or stand but just stay on the mat. This is my goal. I am asking myself why anyone would ever do this? I also notice there are no men in this particular class which unfortunately means I have no chance of witnessing a wardrobe nut malfunction. This is the last time I actually notice there are other humans in the room.

No Idea What’s Happening

I have now completed 7 classes and I could not tell you whether there was anyone else in the class or even demonstrate a single pose. I no longer feel the heat. I am fairly sure I smell like a dead animal in class but I strangely love the warmth. It makes it easier to stretch. Did I just say that? I have no idea what goes on in this hour and a half. All I know is that this exercise is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I have no concept of time when there yet hate it so very much and oddly, I have been bitten by some strange bug because at the end of every class, I feel lighter physically and mentally.

I Come For The Tea?

I ask Sheelagh when I will stop hating it. She tells me I just have to keep showing up. She hated it for the first six months but it is the only exercise she’s ever done that she’s stuck with. We drink tea at the end of every class. It is a community of dynamic individuals from every age and culture whom I wasn’t aware were even in the same building until we are drinking tea after class. Every time is different and I can’t verbalize why but I keep showing up….because I do….even though I hate it. I’ve asked people why they go and I’ve heard some ridiculous answers.

Personally, my reasons are multiple but the main one is that I have herniated a disk twice which feels like labor minus the smugness of creating a life so anything that keeps me living without back pain is something I will return to. Am I a Bikram addict? Am I a Sheelagh addict? Who knows. I only know I feel better for going and will continue to return. I won’t notice if you are on the mat next to me…but I encourage you to try it. If only to meet Sheelagh and breath in her positive air. Just do as they say and breathe through your nose. I might start applying such methods in order to survive Luxembourg traffic.

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Meredith Moss

Meredith shot to fame at an early age, playing Jesus in her school play. It has been downhill from there. Needing gainful employment, she worked as a television producer in Los Angeles until she met her British husband in a seedy beach bar. An enthusiastic expat, she is a good cook, a bad parker and occasionally terrible mother.

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