Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Hot Yoga Nightmare

This was the fourth image that came up
on my Google Image search for Yoga
Hot yoga is the fastest growing recreation or past-time in the western world. One in four Americans under the age of twenty five has now tried hot yoga or is currently going to a hot yoga class.* I used to say "I'm as intellectually curious as the next guy" until one day the next guy was Isaiah Berlin so I've stopped saying that now, but thats not really that relevant, what's relevant is the fact that I'm a little bit curious about yoga and hot yoga in particular. 
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Why? I'll tell you why. I've had a bad left knee for a long time now and in the last year it was diagnosed as a "pre arthritic condition" whatever that means. Basically it hurts in the morning and I can't really run on it or play soccer which is annoying, but I do swim nearly every day and most of the time the pain is completely manageable. So I'm not complaining but I am looking for non surgical solutions to the problem and I have tried many different things including acupuncture, massage and a variety of medications. Recently on the advice of several people I decided to try hot yoga. It was not a good experience. 
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First lets understand what hot yoga is. It is NOT called hot yoga because the room is full of hot chicks. Yes the room is full of hot chicks but you can't concentrate on them because the room has been heated to 120 degrees. They have the place this temperature because, I kid you not, its hot in India and that's where yoga came from. That's the logic. On this principle bananas should only be eaten in a humidor. I have no proof of this but I'm reasonably certain that our yoga instructor spent her formative years running a V-C prison camp in Laos. She was a small, energetic woman with a powerful set of lungs and she used these to good effect. She screamed at us from the beginning of the class to the end, yelling at us not to drink water as it disrupted the timing and telling us to work harder and to hold the poses longer. After five minutes I wanted to leave but I was frankly terrified of this lady. Is it likely that she would have hurled a shuriken throwing star at my neck as I was slipping out? No. Is it impossible? Again, no. 
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I quickly discovered that I was in front of one of the heaters that kept blasting hot air at me every few minutes. That plus the constant screaming and the pain of the poses and the denial of water cracked me like an egg. I would have talked. I would have told them anything. I would have signed anything. But there was nothing to sign. Just more pain and more yelling. 
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An hour and fifteen minutes went by the way time goes by at a Noam Chomsky lecture. When it was finally over we were advised to rest on the mats for a few minutes and then shower but I ran into the street instead. I felt like Dieter Dengler, or maybe like someone who more than two people reading this blog would have heard of. The yoga place I went to happens to be next door to the biggest brothel in Melbourne, possibly the biggest brothel in the Southern Hemisphere, so there were quite a few dodgy characters hanging around and a desperately panting man, pouring with sweat, in flip flops & wife beater t shirt was not that uncommon a sight. I got in the car, drank my water bottle and an old one I found under the seat and blasted the aircon. 
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The result? Well my knee did feel better for a day or two after the hot yoga experience but there's no way I can bring myself to go back. I'll take the bad knee over the demented V-C Colonel any day of the week. 
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*None of these "facts" are remotely true and to be honest I'm surprised you even thought they were.