Weekend Wanderer: I Love Hot Yoga. Don’t Judge Me


I want to say something. But I need you to hear me out before you walk away in total disgust.

I tried hot yoga. And I loved hot yoga.

I know what I sound like. I know. You’re thinking I take wine selfies during The Kardashians and hashtag them rosé all day. I blubber about the virtues of turmeric to anyone stupid enough to get near me. I wear a sports bra with matching leggings everywhere I go.

And now you’re out. You’re done with me. Go ahead. I get it. I’m done with me, too. Hot yoga. Who do I think I am? Gwyneth? Madonna? Jennifer Aniston?

Please believe me when I say my road to hot yoga, like hell, was lined with good intentions. Or at least good reasons.

It started last summer. One of my kids needed a tutor. My godfather knew exactly where to send me. He stepped in all Pauly-like and made things work for me, his Henry Hill. And just like Pauly was right when he told Henry Hill to stay away from the garbage, my godfather was right, too.

The tutoring is outstanding.

It’s also three hours long. Twice a week.

Too short to go home. Long enough to find some trouble.

Now, we talked last year about how I handle this time. I joined a gym. The prettiest gym I have ever seen. Even the towels smell good.

I was bereft when I resigned my membership last year amidst autumn’s early glimmer. Tutoring is limited to summer, and thus so is my gym time. I felt like Meryl Streep watching Clint Eastwood drive away at the end of Bridges of Madison County.

But unlike Meryl and Clint, who – spoiler alert – don’t get reunited until death, my gym and I are back together.

The gym was Good Intention No. 1.

Good Intention No. 2 was yoga itself. For better than a decade, I have flirted with yoga. I let yoga buy me a drink, but I never let yoga take me home.

But earlier this year I pledged to really commit to yoga.

I know. I’m groaning too, hearing myself say that. But I’m just going to tell you that people find your high-strung, jittery angst charming for only so long. In short order, you become exhausting. There’s a reason both my dad and my husband went gray shortly after I came into their lives.

And a reason my dad didn’t want any kids after me.

And a reason my husband doesn’t want any wives after me.

Does yoga help me take off that edge? I don’t know. But my husband hasn’t left yet, so maybe.

One day last week, I moved on to Good Intention No. 3 – combining my tutoring gym time with my commitment to yoga. But the only yoga class offered at my gym during tutoring is hot yoga.

How bad could it be?

Well, I learned the hard way that any body odor is accentuated in a ninety-five-degree yoga studio. And my particular brand of hot yoga moves fast. No gentle shifts into poses held for five breaths. If my Apple Watch wasn’t impressed with my hot yoga heart rate, it should go be Gwyneth’s Apple Watch.

Hot, fast-moving yoga doesn’t sound like it lowers anxiety. But let’s be honest. We’ve all met me. The serenity of a practiced yogi is unlikely to ever be my calling card.

And I read in The Washington Post someone died doing hot yoga. So now that haunts me as I scrabble through yoga poses. And, you know, every second I’m awake.

So while I don’t watch The Kardashians, or drink rosé, or wear a sports bra in public, or even care about turmeric, I do hot yoga. I angst over hot yoga. What if I die during hot yoga? What if I collapse right there on my yoga mat, surrounded by the scents of body odor and fresh towels? What if I’m the next person they write about in The Washington Post?

Yeah. You know what? You’re justified to walk away. An anxious wannabe yogi perseverating about dying and Gwyneth?

I’d leave me, too.

If I could.

But I can’t. Unless, you know, hot yoga kills me.

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