That time I almost walked out of yoga

On Sunday afternoon, I went to hot yoga for the first time in… years? 

“Mommy yoga!” The boys astutely observed as I left the house holding my rolled-up purple yoga mat.

I walked into the studio a few minutes late, and it was packed. The air was thick and warm, almost tropical. I wedged my mat in between two people who were in downward dog and already sweating. 

For the first ten minutes, I felt like a straight up boss. I was hitting all the poses and feeling strong and capable. The heat enveloped me like a comforting blanket. I was glad to be there, in that room, moving and stretching. 

But then… the poses became more challenging. The heat started feeling oppressive. Salty drops of sweat stung my eyes, and my clothes stuck to my body. When I was absolutely sure the class was coming to an end, I let myself steal a glance at the wall clock. It read 3:00—we still had thirty minutes to go. Arghhh!

Why was I spending my precious free time torturing myself? Did other people find this enjoyable? And the most pressing question of all: How had I forgotten a towel?

I fantasized about rolling up my yoga mat and walking out of that sweaty studio. Hardly anyone would even notice, or care. I could hop on the elliptical and listen to a podcast instead. I imagined the feel of air conditioning on my skin, the taste of ice cold water on my tongue… 

And I stayed.

I concentrated on the next pose, the next breath. I took breaks (lots of them). While the person next to me was doing some sort of handstand maneuver, I had my forehead pressed to the mat in child’s pose. I used my sweaty shirt to wipe my sweaty face. I started to feel strong again. Slowly, I made it through those last thirty minutes that stretched out like an endless piece of taffy. 

It was just a yoga class, yes. But it felt like more than a yoga class, yes? 

At the blessed end of the hour, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. The woman looking back at me was red-faced and dripping with sweat, her hair a wild mess of curls atop her head. She looked like she had been on the losing side of a battle. But you know what? I was so proud of her. Not because of how she looked, or how she performed, but simply because she persevered.

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