Today was my first ever attempt at participating in a group yoga class – hot yoga to be more specific, and there were definitely a couple of moments throughout when I thought for sure I was gonna vomit and then pass-out-face-plant in my own puke. Thank goodness I didn’t. I pre-paid for the entire month, and the embarrassment might have been too much to bear and likely would have kept me away forever. No refunds I assume.
For about the past six months or so, I’ve been dealing with one physical nightmare after another, the worst being my sciatica on the right side of my hip. This nuisance of an injury has been interfering with my ability to work, train in karate, and of course, go hiking. Yesterday, I could barely climb up a small ladder, which is absolutely pathetic for a man of my age and overall fitness level. My hip’s been getting worse, not better, despite a regular self-created routine of exercise and stretching.
Determined to fix these issues on my own, I foolishly avoided seeing both my doctor and my chiropractor about my injuries, figuring they would get better on their own. And to some extent, they had been for a short period of time, but then like clockwork, these injuries have continued to flare-up and cause me even more grief and aggravation, bringing me back to square-one time and time again.
Ugh! I really thought this was something I could handle on my own. I was wrong.
Yesterday, I finally caved-in and went to see my chiropractor. In over twenty years of seeing him, I’ve always had a pretty strict rule – DO NOT TOUCH MY LOWER BACK. Going back 26 years ago (wow, how time flies), I broke my leg in seven spots playing a weekend game of tackle football with a bunch of friends. The result was that my leg became about a half-inch shorter, and so naturally it throws my hips off slightly. Despite that however, I’ve never had any other previous hip or lower back problems, hence my strict rule. Until now that is.
Long story short, my doctor did his thing and cracked my lower back. It sounded a lot like when someone cracks the knuckles on their entire hand. Not even kidding… it literally gave me chills. And something else that it gave me was an immediately noticeable level of relief. Okay, I thought. It’s official. I’m a stubborn idiot for not coming in sooner. But cracking my back was only the first step towards my recovery. I still had a lot of overall soreness and stiffness in my joints and muscles to deal with.
Ironically, while I was sitting in the waiting room, preparing to get bent in half, I ended up reading a short but informative article on the many benefits of hot yoga. Maybe this is the next step, I thought, so I messaged my friend to see what he recommended in the local area.
When I woke up this morning, he replied back saying that I should try a hot yoga class in St. Catharines at a place called Power Yoga Canada, so I immediately messaged them and to my great surprise, they were lightning fast in their response. They told me that there was a class in less than an hour that I could attend, so I jumped out of bed and made my way out the door.
Equipped with my wife’s purple yoga mat, a small hand towel, and a one litre bottle of water, I arrived 15 minutes early, filled out a waiver so that I couldn’t sue them if they turned me into a disabled pretzel, and received the grand tour by a lovely young lady who happened to be a mutual friend of the guy who recommended me. Then, next thing you know, I was setting up my mat on the studio floor.
Man, it was warm in there.
At first, the movements all felt pretty good and I seemed to be keeping up with the rest of the class no problem. Then the light-headedness started to take over and my pace slowed considerably. For a good five minutes or so, I conceded to simply laying on my back with my eyes closed, doing my best to control my breathing as the instructor continued with her routine.
After a quick break from the action, I realized that I only had two choices; get up and leave, or stand up and continue.
So I kept going.
Now, I admit, there were a few of the movements that I struggled with, particularly with my shoulders and hips, but that’s precisely why I was there. If I was already flexible enough to do everything without challenging myself, then I guess I wouldn’t need to do yoga, would I?
Keeping my balance towards the end was also an issue, as I failed to place a towel over the top of my yoga mat. The sweat had been flowing off of my forehead like the mighty Niagara River and it created a small pond of disgustingness down by my feet making traction a lot more difficult. Next time, I’ll remember to place a damp towel down on the top of the mat as well.
Wait! Did I just say, next time?
Damn right I did.
If ever the phrase, no pain no gain, ever applied to anything, it’s hot yoga for sure. I can’t say it was easy – pushing the boundaries of your comfort level is never an easy thing to do regardless of the activity, but I am confident that it will become easier as I go along.
I’d like to thank Dr. Mike, my buddy Jay, and the super friendly instructors over at Power Yoga Canada for helping me through my first ever hot yoga class. I’m already looking forward to the next one.