Hot Yoga

Sweating and stretching never felt so good


Story and photos by Jaime Thomas

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Breathing correctly is an important part of hot yoga

Some like it hot. Others like it hotter. Ninety minutes of continual physical exertion in a humid, 105-degree room. Hot yoga would have been my menopausal mother’s worst nightmare.  

My boyfriend and I decided to try out hot yoga, also known as Bikram yoga, after hearing about it from friends. We found the place in Lake Placid, which was under construction in the parking lot, but newly remodeled inside.

We grabbed towels and a mat and managed to find a spot in the packed, mainly female room.

It was obvious from the get-go that these ladies had been doing this for a while.  They were able to twist and stretch and hold poses that made me lose my balance. The instructor reminded us that we were to be constantly working. She knew when I was cheating and not pushing myself, and didn’t let me off the hook. She, by the way, did not appear to be sweating at all for the entire hour and a half.

I’ve probably previously said, “I’ve never been so hot in my life,” but seriously, I’ve never been so hot in my life. I was sweating from every single pore of my body. Did you know you can sweat from your shins? I didn’t. The towel beneath me was completely soaked, and my forehead slipped as it touched my legs.

Now, my boyfriend is an extreme kind of guy. His idea of a fun walk through the woods might be an intense, self-limit pushing hike for me. He had to leave the room halfway through our session.

I, however, stayed, and was glad I did so. I knew if I’d made it this far, I could make it through to the end. We moved to the floor section of the practice, and some of the moves became a little bit more familiar to me.

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You're expected to be constantly working while doing hot yoga

During positions that looked seemingly effortless on the other women, my body was literally vibrating from pathetic lack of muscle. The good news was I was learning my exponentially growing weaknesses.

As the session continued, I realized to my horror that I was placed directly in front of the clock. As we worked through the final half hour, I watched every minute tick.

As breathing grew impossible and I neared explosion or meltdown, the instructor mercifully opened the windows. This was only supposed to last for several minutes, but I got lucky, and it got jammed.

At the close of the session, we laid down quietly to some music for a bit. After, I hopped desperately into a tepid shower, which had soap and shampoo provided. I felt quite loopy from sweating and exerting myself so much, but also very cleansed.

I don’t think I generally smell like a rose, but my sweat doesn’t tend to stink when I’m working out. This time, however, my towel and clothes reeked. The instructor said I had sweat out toxins. She also said my internal organs, which usually stay pretty stagnant, got twisted and crunched in beneficial ways from the various positions we did. My boyfriend noted that my skin looked incredibly exfoliated and healthy.

We asked a regular attendee what would be good to eat after such an experience. She told us cucumbers and coconut water. We looked at each other with a mutual thought of  “yeah right.” Naturally, we followed up by getting beer and full meals at the Lake Placid brewery, a decision that turned my happy high into a major headache.

All in all, hot yoga was an interesting and intense experience that made my body and mind feel really good, and I’ll definitely do it again.

In what ways do you cleanse your body?

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