Fire When Ready
Clever Tribe- it’s a New Year and you have most likely put “lose weight” near the top of your list of resolutions- so, I am here to help.
Under the orders of a doctor after major abdominal surgery, I was strong armed into yoga. I refused, but one of my best friends, Julie, begged me to go to hot yoga with her. Oh, sure.I’d heard all about it and could not imagine why anyone would do yoga to begin with, let alone in temperatures of 98 degrees and up. I could barely make it from the car to Costco without needing a nap in the summer- no way.
So, I stomped my foot and offered the doctor options. Fast walking? No. Light stretching?Sure. That lasted one day before I was bored. Pilates? No. Light weight lifting? Absolutely NO. Huh! I pouted, nose lifted slightly in the air, hands on hips. He was not impressed.
“Go to yoga- it won’t kill you” was his parting shot before he left the room.
I was pretty sure someone had died in yoga- I just needed proof. After failing to locate any concrete evidence yoga was going to kill me- I buckled. It had been five weeks without exercise and I was starting to get a little nutty. So, begrudgingly I put on some yoga-esque clothing. Gosh- I really hated yoga- painful, boring, annoying, pointless …
We pulled up to Sunstone Yoga– I’d seen the signs- seemed popular. I’d never been to a facility that offered only yoga- interesting. I was given a tour- they were very excited I was joining them for a class. I explained my rather significant limitations and concern rained down on me from everyone in the room. They advised me to sit and acclimate to the heat my first time and not feel pressured to do anything else.
I was a bit apprehensive about the heat- first of all, my hair is very curly and I knew the second I stepped into the hot, humid room I was going to look like Roseanne Roseannadanna or- for the younger readers- Monica on “Friends,” when they went to the islands. Luckily, I’d scooped it up and back in anticipation. I categorically abhor heat- I’m from the North and think it is easier to get warm than get cool, so I was dreading it- big time.
Julie set me up with a huge bottle of cold water and we stripped down to the bare minimum required clothing. “It’s really hot,” she reminded me. I’ve heard.
When we opened the door to the room where we’d be “practicing”- it was like running into a wall- a very hot one. Unfazed, Julie headed to the rack to appropriate a mat for each of us.She didn’t seem to notice me teetering on my heels as I nearly succumbed to the temperature. Where was a fainting couch and an audience when you really needed one? I followed her to my mat, which she’d set up with a towel in the middle. She instructed me to lay down. Gladly- geez. No way.
As I lay, resting and nearly suffocating- I realized the heat felt good. It wasn’t like being in the sun and feeling the top layer of your skin searing off. It was more like being warmed through. A light sheen of sweat broke over my skin and I started to feel as if I was already “working out.” I stretched a bit and my body thanked me- hmmm. Weird. My body detested heat and yoga- yet, a “thank you?”
When the instructor came in- she began with some breathing exercises. Aware of my fragility- she kept an eye on me throughout class and gave me a subtle head shake if she didn’t want me to attempt a position- or came to me and modified it so I would not overexert. After I made it through the standing series and realized I’d lived, I was hooked.
On fire from the inside out, my body was purging toxins as the sweat sluiced off my skin. I watched the others around me- as many men as women- and delighted in their varied abilities. Despite the fact I had just had surgery I was not the most cautious person in the room. There were many with injuries- attending to start healing in a holistic way- many whom lacked flexibility or balance. I didn’t feel uncomfortable or out of place at any time.
I had to lie down on my mat several times and simply enjoyed the deluge of fluid pouring from me. To be honest- despite the fact I’d worked out my entire life- I could scarcely remember breaking a sweat during exercise. This wasn’t breaking a sweat though- it was an honest cleansing and I felt fantastic.
When we were done- after 90 minutes of what I thought was a pretty intense workout- though I’d done little, Julie applauded my efforts- the instructor made a point of lauding me and asking after me. I felt supported and cared for. How lovely.
So … the question is- where else can you get all this? I’ve found it nowhere. My addiction having become so great- I was dismayed when I left Dallas for the summer and was unable to locate Sunstone! Frantically, I called Sunstone and said- “what am I supposed to do?”They suggested searching the internet for other “hot yoga” or Bikram.
In my research, I learned Bikram is the root concept or college of yoga. Founded by Bikram Choudhury. I was aghast to find the room is 105 degrees during practice. Obviously, I couldn’t do that so I must find another kinder, gentler, cooler option. No luck- so Bikram it was for me- for the summer. In all honesty- the heat during Bikram is oppressive and the tone is totally different- almost like you are attending an auction and the auctioneer is overzealous and a bit sadistic. Joking aside- it’s really, freaking hard- with 26 postures instead of Sunstone’s 34- well, you can imagine what that translates to in a 90-minute class- HOLDING THE POSTURES LONGER. OMGOSH.
I know what you are thinking- why would ANYONE willingly subject themselves to such torture? Because it is freaking fantastic. Let me tell you about the benefits to me personally and then share with you the myriad benefits proven by the practice.
For the past 15 years living in Texas, I have suffered mightily from allergies- I take four shots per week and still have to take a variety of medication. Since beginning hot yoga, in July of 2008, I have not taken shots nor have I utilized medication other than eye drops once a week or so and an occasional antihistamine during cedar season. My doctor had even suggested I move to Colorado, as the air here was not consistent with any quality of life for me.
As a writer, I suffered for years from chronic lower back soreness and pain- no longer. In fact, my back is so strong I find I can be on my feet working as a photographer longer than ever before- and of course in stylish shoes.
The weight loss was unexpected and welcome- I finally have the body I have always wanted. As a former gymnast and cheerleader- my body was strong and muscular- but as an adult- I had tired of such definition and maintenance. Yoga has lengthened my muscles and I have a lithe, lean frame.
From an emotional, psychological and spiritual standpoint- I look forward to those 90 minutes more than any other part of my day. It’s a time when no one can reach me- though I am waiting for someone to burst through the door with a crisis no one else can manage- arrrgggg. Thankfully, they lock the front door so no one can interrupt the practice by arriving late. My time. For me. My stress level plummets, as I have no time to think about what might be troubling me- and actually emerge from class with a more positive outlook.
Now, I will relay to you the proven benefits of hot yoga-
Protects the muscles and allows for deeper stretching
Reduces chances of injury
Detoxifies the body
Thins the blood to clear the circulatory system
Increases the heart rate for a great cardiovascular workout
Reorganizes the lipids (fat) in the muscular structure (thank goodness)
Is a fantastic cardiovascular workout
Cleanses the body by sweating toxins out of your system
Weight loss is almost unavoidable (unless you leave and go directly to McDonald’s … for the third time that day)
If you try one new thing this year- and I hope you try MANY- hot yoga should be it. Clever Guys- it’s a great place to ogle and potentially meet someone. Clever Girls- if the above-stated reasons aren’t enough …
Most hot yoga studios offer 10 days for 10 dollars. Go as many times as you want in 10 days for only 10 dollars. After that- there are a variety of options to meet your budget and needs. Sunstone is in Texas and Colorado currently, but as this thing catches on like wild FIRE. Expect it to pop up in your corner of the world.
CLEVER Girls- tomorrow is a HUGE game for football fans- this provides you three options and opportunities to be a rock star. Tell him to invite his friends to watch the game and make other plans- BUT prepare meatball subs for their consumption and pack the fridge with beer and snacks. OR, tell him to watch the game wherever he wants and make other plans. Don’t inquire as to when he will be home- but if you are worried at all- hire a car to drive him to and from his destination- it’s not that expensive. OR, tell him to invite everyone over and wait on them hand and foot if you are not into football. Catering to men is so much fun! It’s not too late to get a Hooters Girl uniform so you can pass out wings. (Don’t be mad, Maribeth- I’m just kidding- NO. I’M. NOT.)
You are already a rock star if you LOVE football, love entertaining the guys and don’t feel you have to challenge every call and argue with the men. If it’s early in your relationship- you can score a LOT of points by delivering each sandwich personally with a cold beer.
OK- this is what we need for meatball subs- increase quantities if you are having a house full-
2 lbs. of lean ground beef
Italian-style bread crumbs
eggs or Egg Beaters
1 red onion
2 large cans of tomato sauce
1 can of tomato paste
Low-moisture mozzarella grated- unless you are really skilled with a grater (not Clever- boring and a waste of time)
Really good bread- Italian or rustic Italian. If it’s a long loaf- imagine cutting it in three for three sandwiches- if they are short, one sandwich per is good.
The sub stands alone- I don’t recommend serving much else as an accompaniment, though it’s game day so we will need other snacks. Refer to the Clever in the Kitchen section if you’ve lost your appetizer recipes.
OK- Clever Girls, tomorrow I will tell you what you need to know about Mike Leach, the University of Texas vs. Alabama game, the contenders for Texas Tech’s top slot, and we might want to talk a bit about Tiger. It never gets old.