Hot yoga

Seems like everyone knows about my passion for running, but did you know I have another activity that challenges and strengthens me?  Yep, it even provides balance for the physical demands of pounding the pavement as well as an opportunity to tune in mentally to my body in a manner that running, due to the necessity of remaining aware of what is going on in my surroundings,  does not offer.  May I present one of my favorite four-letter words – yoga!

I first experienced yoga as a sixth grader.  There was an after school program at my elementary building and I enjoyed it as much as a self conscious prepubescent girl could.  I was a very active kid and remarkably flexible, so it appealed to me immediately.  I think that 12 was a little young for me to grasp the mental component, though.  Actually, that probably remains my biggest challenge.

Over the years I’ve practiced yoga with varying degrees of commitment. When my older boys were young, I took a class at the JCC in Albany taught by Cameron Thomas. (Ironically enough, she mediated my divorce last year – small world, huh?) Cameron was the perfect yogi – she was meticulous about form and taught me a lot about the poses and breathing.

I’ve told you before how much I enjoy the Sunday morning class at the Yoga Loft, but I’ve been expanding my horizons, particularly while on vacation.  For the third summer, I’ve taken yoga classes taught by Patty Renaud in Wellfleet. The classes aren’t incredibly physically challenging, but they do provide an excellent opportunity for me to mentally release.  I’ve been really close to dozing at the end of class – a true vacation.

Last winter when I was in Palm Springs (yeah, I like saying that) I found a studio that offered a variety of classes.  I managed to squeeze 4 classes in during my 5 days, two of which were modified Bikram classes.  I don’t know much about Bikram, or “hot” yoga, other than it is an ass-kicking workout, even when it is abbreviated to 70 minutes and 102 degrees.

Last week on Martha’s Vineyard I took two legit Bikram classes – 90 minutes, 104 degrees in the studio.  I wisely paid for two classes ($16 plus $2 to rent a mat) guaranteeing that I would return a second time.  Seeing as how during the initial class I was afraid that I was either going to die, pass out or puke, it was a good move.

If you are interested in a workout that stretches your muscles and relaxes your brain, I heartily recommend finding a Bikram studio.  I’ve heard good things about this place, but haven’t yet made it there myself.  This type of yoga is not for the faint of heart – bring plenty of water and move into the poses with caution if you’re inexperienced with practicing.  And be prepared to literally drip sweat from virtually every pore.  And speaking of that – apologies to those unfortunate enough to have set their mats up next to mine on Friday.  Hope I didn’t sweat any of Thursday night’s tequila on you.  I was on vacation, after all.

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