Yoga is still a really, really cool thing to do in Los Angeles.
I thought it would have fallen by the wayside, with all the crazy hybrid pilates classes out here. Do you know what Piloxing is? Besides sounding like a weird sex move (totally got piloxed last night), it's a combination of pilates, boxing, and DANCE. I still don't entirely understand, because I've been too afraid to try it out. The only people I know who pilox (is that a word?) are my super beautiful model friends. Maybe piloxing makes you more beautiful... but I'm more afraid I'll show up and everyone will be all "WHO IS THIS UGLY TROUT WITH NO RHYTHM?"
(Have you ever thrown a fish on a mat and watched it flop around gasping for air? That's me. Maybe that's a visual only my southerner friends will understand. Not sorry, y'all.)
Yoga is wildly more accessible because it's 1) easier to cheat on difficult poses and 2) at least half crunchy granola people, so classes are usually less expensive. However, this being Los Angeles, they gotta make it a hundred time more complicated. Because in LA, exclusivity = more fun.
And thus, Bikram Hot Yoga was born.
Bikram Hot Yoga takes all the things a person tries to avoid when exercising (being hot, being around people, being reminded that you are exercising) and exacerbates them. It's really, really hot. It's really, really crowded. You're soaked in sweat and smelling others' sweat and being cajoled to move in ways that produce more sweat for everyone, thus reminding you constantly that you're really, really working out, in case you're able to forget for a milisecond.
I've so far been able to avoid yoga in LA by being "busy" which is usually code for "napping" or "guiltily eating pizza alone so no one knows my shame."
But I have a secret.
It's not the sweating, or the people, or the Enya that's keeping me away. It's the yoga itself. Yoga tried to kill me once, and it scarred me for life.
I started college with a lot of lofty/ridiculous ideas of "cool college me." For example, I joined like five Christian campus organizations so life would be one big youth group. Then I realized they were either marriage mills (Ring by spring! lol jk BUT SERIOUSLY.) or just boring as toast. But another "cool college me"action was going to Vinyasa Yoga at the student rec center at 8am. Obviously, I was going to be like, so flexible and enlightened and at peace with my strong core and meditation skills.
Also, I liked a boy who talked about yoga sometimes. That might have been a small motivating factor.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, I would force myself awake at the cruel hour of 7:30am (which is funny now that I have to be at work by 6am most days. 7:30 is a laughable luxury). I would chomp on some cardboard/protein bar and chug a juice on my solitary trek to the studio, before forcing my body through rapid-succession motions for 45 minutes of dolphins squeaking in the background. Cool college me had a weird idea of "fun."
One morning I woke up at probably 7:55. Oh No(ga)! I contemplated skipping but knew discipline was key to physical and mental health. Also, what if I saw that cute boy at the cafeteria today and had nothing to talk about? THE HORROR. I dashed out the door, still in pajama pants, past the cardboard/protein bar sitting forlornly on my dresser.
By college, I had a pretty good grip on my hypoglycemia [For the record, that's low blood sugar, NOT a type of cancer. I clarify this because my eye doctor's assistant saw it on my chart and said I "looked pretty good for someone going through chemo." What the hell sort of backhanded compliment is that?]. I knew the basics, like I probably shouldn't eat just Little Debbie Marshmallow Supremes as a meal. I skipped the breakfast bar partially out of lateness but moreso out of taste (cardboard is EFFING GROSS especially first thing in the morning). However, I reasoned that I'd had a huge, cheesy burrito at 1am (I miss you, Cosmic Cantina) that was still probably in my system, and I still had water.
Do you hear the ominous music booming below the dolphin squeaks?
I arrived to class a little shaky, but chugging water like a pro. Morning workout classes were why brunch was invented, probably. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw that cute setting up his mat in the corner. I of course did the logical thing of not actually speaking to him, or looking at him directly, but setting up front and center immediately facing the instructor. I mean, obviously I would impress him with my great yoga prowess and then he would talk to me and we'd go get brunch, and probably live happily ever after. That's how dating works, right?
We started with some floor stretches lead by our very calm, zen instructor. Ah, yes, sitting down, I can do this. Besides mildly dozing during child's pose, I felt extra fuzzy and warm and bendy. TOTALLY impressing this cute boy with my stretching abilities.
Then, we moved on to a lot of upside-down poses. Downward-facing dog. Warrior 3. Downward-facing-dog-peeing-on-a-fire-hydrant. The usual. Ahh, I was doing great. So calm, so focused, so much blood rushing to my head.
We were serenely encouraged to slowly transition to "mountain pose" (aka just standing up), stacking our vertebrae one at a time. I still don't know what that means. Like our spine is one of those child's ring toys? My vertebrae, at least, are all connected (poorly, crookedly, but still in one piece), so I just jumped straight up. I am mountainous, I am strong, I am... unable to see?
I am collapsed on the floor.
I am sooo uncool right now.
I opened my eyes to my totally calm, zen, yogi FREAKING OUT. Am I alright? Do I have a concussion? Should he get the nurse? An EMT? He was definitely harshing everyone else's mellow.
I tried to laugh it off and said I just needed some water, and to carry on. I think I also started to say I was overcome by enlightenment or something, but trailed off because I forgot where I was. I semi-consciously comforted my yoga instructor, who looked to be near tears, and picked up my stuff to go to the hallway water fountain. In the hallway, I leaned on the wall to steady myself. Then, I slid down the wall to get a little more stability. Then I kind of just laid on the floor next to my water bottle. Close enough.
Somewhere in the fog, I managed to call my lady mom, probably to say my goodbyes and reaffirm that Lil Watz couldn't take over my bedroom even if I passed on.
"R. Grace WHAT ARE YOU DOING. Get up. Go to the cafeteria. Get food. Now." Lady mom wisely realized that my fog-brain could only process short directives. I weakly tried to argue.
"My stomach hurts. I think I just need to sleep. On the floor. Right now."
I should have been on the debate team.
She forced me, entirely through three-word-or-less sentences, to get up and cross the courtyard to the cafeteria. I think I argued with her about wether or not ice cream was an acceptable breakfast food. I settled on an omelet and some fruit. With each bite, I slowly regained brainpower and also the ability to feel humiliation. What had I done? Who had seen me?!
I ran into that cute boy later in the day. He said hi and I immediately launched into some stammer-y explanation about the events earlier in the day. He looked at me, baffled.
"Oh, R. Grace, I don't do yoga in class. I do it outside in the park by myself."
I was briefly relieved that I hadn't embarrassed myself in front of him (and thusly, anyone who mattered) in class that morning. Following that realization, I had embarrassed myself just now, with my long story, retelling everything in graphic detail.
So obviously I never went back to yoga again.
Go on with your yoga, my dear Angelinos. While you're cultivating superpowered yeast infections (yoga pants and intense sweat? HELLO.) and climbing the rungs to self-awareness, I will find my own path to inner peace and bliss.
And it most likely involves pizza and air-conditioning.