I’ve never been much of a “gym” person. Which machine am I supposed to use? Why is that person staring at me? Why does everyone else seem to know what they’re doing? As a result, I’ve relied on myself to find other productive ways to get my weekly dose of sweaty cardio. Lately though, I’ve been in a serious rut. The idea of running in the cold is practically unthinkable, and even Jillian Michaels, bless her soul, can’t motivate me like she used to.
I decided to find a (cheap) place in NYC where I could have a more structured workout. After many internet searches, I found a brand that people were obsessed with: Yoga to the People. The few things I’d heard about their classes were nothing short of praise, and the price was, GET THIS, only $7 per hour. Score. Another benefit? They have five different NYC locations and offer a class every other hour. I decided to go to the studio nearest to me, which happened to only offer hot vinyasa.
Why the hell not? I thought.
On a Thursday morning at 11:00 am, I headed up to the fourth floor of an old five-flour walkup on 6th avenue. I stepped into the room, panting and out of breath, realizing I already made a mistake: I neglected to take off my Doc Martens, ignoring the sign that said “please take off shoes before you enter.” I took off my shoes as quickly as possible and, after that momentary distraction, was hit with the heavy, overwhelming scent of lavender. I then realized how stiflingly hot it was, removing my puffy down jacket as quickly as possible. I stuffed my belongings in a cubby (no lockers, fair warning), grabbed my yoga mat, paid the instructor, and settled for a nice, comfy spot in the back of the room, a fairly small space with shiny wood floors.
I laid back on my mat, staring up at the ceiling as other people started claiming their spots around me. Most of the other students greeted the instructor by name, indicating the familial feel that Yoga to the People often has with their clients.The instructor called for our attention, and the class began. The room was at least 100 degrees and I was already sweating.
We began in child’s pose, where our instructor encouraged us to explore what felt best for our bodies, with a random assortment of indie music playing softly in the background. It was a nice change of pace, considering that almost every exercise class has a crazy strict structure and limited opportunity to deviate. We started our “flow,” which seemed to emphasize the downward dog. There was a ton of emphasis on deep breathing and (although I giggled, partially because I find everything funny) the class was encouraged to make noises as they exhaled.
Another lesson I pass on? Bring. A. Towel.
With every downward dog, I felt the palms of my hands slipping further to the front of the mat, my excessive perspiration stopping me from having a firm grip in the pose. As I craned my neck to inspect the rest of the room, I realized that everyone else laid a towel on top of their mat. I saw a few spare towels in the corner and quickly grabbed one. (It only cost $2 to rent.) Another note to keep in mind, I sweat. Like, a lot. Literally beads of sweat were dripping from my body. I wasn’t even the slightest bit self conscious, however, because everyone else in the room was sweating just as excessively as me.
Overall, the class reinforces the idea of doing what works best for your body. For relieving tension buildup and focusing on only yourself for the entirety of one whole hour. In a fast paced, plugged in world? Yoga is the equivalent to a spa visit. The next day, I couldn’t laugh without hurting my sore abdominal muscles. I couldn’t lift my arms without wincing, and my legs felt like jelly. Regardless of the minor stiffness, I also felt really good.
Hot Vinyasa, FTW.