Lon told us his story about his first Bikram—Hot—Yoga experience. Lon is a very fit male and he is as mentally strong as anyone I know. He said that “7 minutes in” he was down on the mat, gasping for air, telling the instructor, “I can’t breathe! I think I may need mouth-to-mouth!” His second attempt, he fainted in mid pose and broke his hand!
I never wanted to do hot yoga, having grown up in Virginia where summers are hot and humid; I loathed the heat. The sticky sweaty nights without air conditioning, the days on the field in gym class where I literally got nauseous and couldn’t complete many of the races we had. I was constantly fainting when I’d go from the miserable hot, damp summers into an air conditioned store—there I’d go, flat on the floor—again. Of course, part of that probably had a lot to do with the fact that I never drank water and I never ate enough. Gee, do you think? Still, I hated the hot summers and mostly, the humidity. So, what did I discover in hot yoga? They actually have machines that CREATE more humidity inside the room!
I’d planned on getting there 20 minutes early, as recommended, so my body could “adjust to the temperature” but my directions were wrong and I arrived at 4:30 on the dot. The class began at 4:30. So, the instructor grabbed a mat and a towel for me and went right in. When he opened the glass door, I hit a wall of heat—was I walking into Hades?! I panicked. Oh, my God it’s hot in here—instinct told me to run! He put my mat down, with the towel on top and assured me it would be OK, saying, “Just remember to breathe in and out through your nose. I kept Lon in my head—I can’t breathe—I CAN’T BREATHE!
I paid strict attention, breathing ONLY through my nose, not gasping for air through my mouth as I felt inclined to do. I watched the others and I looked in the mirror, but I was so damn hot that I honestly did not see myself. All I could do was remember to BREATHE and not pass out. About 30 minutes in—I kept a close watch on the clock—my head started pounding; I felt a little sick to my stomach. I could leave now, I thought, I’m way past 7 minutes! But no, I won’t leave, just breathe, breathe, breathe!
An hour into it, I thought, surely I can leave now—right outside that door is the cool lobby with the cool tile to walk on. Surely an hour is sufficient for my first time. Then, the realization hit me, the parallel between this new discipline and my Nu Skin business, my goal to reach the Blue Diamond level, the place where I will experience the freedom to live in my house by the water and write with no financial or time restrictions—truly free forever! And I thought, this is just the same. If I go running for the door, I will have given up, on myself, on my dream, on other’s dreams. Breathe, breathe, breathe!
Then, I swear, the instructor turned UP the heat. How is it possible it could be getting hotter?! Now, we were on the floor. I figured this would be easier, but no. And the posture I remembered from my non-hot yoga classes, Savasana, the last pose of the practice where we just get to lie on the mat and do absolutely nothing, relax. Well, here that lasted for about two seconds and then we had to get up and move to another pose, another stretch, another position. Savasana was NOT the end here.
Again, I looked at the clock. 15 minutes to go—I could go now, I’m almost done, it’s almost 90 minutes, I can hold my head up . . . breathe, breathe, BREATHE . . . and then, it was over.
Our instructor, came over and handed me a cold, lavender infused washcloth, rolled up like a scroll. The instant I touched the cold black cylinder, I experienced a moment of Heaven. It was so wonderfully, beautifully cold! I carefully unrolled the cloth, laying it across my face. This was the reward! How incredible it felt as I lay it on my forehead, wiped my arms down, felt the coolness against my hot, flushed skin.
Soon, I was able stand and walk out in the coolness of the lobby where I respectfully requested another of these glorious cold lavender scrolls. I sat in a big arm chair, with the cloth across my forehead, so glad it was over, weak and drenched. My feet left little puddles of sweat on the floor, And I rarely sweat. I made it, I made it, I made it!