32 More Days: Hot Yoga

I thought I hated yoga. I had perfectly good reasons. More on that later. But for years I thought I hated yoga.

Then I went to a class. And another. And another. And while I’ve never gone consistently, I figured out really quickly that not only do I not hate yoga, I kind of love it. And I’m also pretty good at it. I was a college cheerleader, so my sense of balance and understanding of my core serves me well. Plus I’m trained as a singer, so the breathing comes really easily.

I was willing to admit that I didn’t hate yoga. But I wasn’t willing to accept being wrong for all those years. (like, probably 13 or 14 years.) There must be something about yoga that I hate. I bet it’s hot yoga. I would probably totally hate hot yoga.

But I figured if it felt scary, it was probably a good challenge for Project 40. So as nervous as I was, I went to a class at our new gym. And I totally loved it.

OK, hear me out on the source of my hate.

It was my second year of teaching. I was getting married in a few months, and one of my friends from college had just been hired as the band director at the middle school and high school where I taught choir. Everything was coming up roses. So my band director friend (we’ll call her Chris. Because that’s her name) and I decided to attend a yoga class the evening after the first day of school. We figured it would be a great way to relax and celebrate after a stressful day. (Like Vino and Vinyasa without the vino.) Neither of us had done yoga before. But how hard could it be?

I was intimidated since it was so new for me. And this was pre-depression diagnosis, so I was nowhere near comfortable with myself. (Thanks, therapy and Lexapro!) We went into the class and the lights were low. That helped me be more comfortable. There were candles lit. Relaxing. I followed the directions the best I could. And at one point we were in an inverted position (Looking back, it was probably downward dog. But I didn’t know that at the time.) for what felt like a ridiculous amount of time. I started to feel all kinds of pressure under my eyes. It sort of felt like my eyeballs were trying to escape. And then we stood upright, and I expected the pressure to go away.

Except, it didn’t.

For the whole rest of the class, I felt like one of those stress dolls that you squeeze and the eyes pop out. When class finally ended and the lights came on, I asked Chris if her eyes felt weird. She looked over at me horrified. “No…” she said, “but you should look in a mirror.” I ran into the locker room to discover that not only did my eyes feel like they were trying to escape, they looked like they were trying to escape. The funny thing is, I was more mortified than concerned. I put on my sunglasses and left the building as quickly as I could.

People have since asked me, “Why didn’t you go back to find the teacher and ask if she knew what had happened?” Yeah. That would have been a great idea. But it would have been admitting (or so I perceived…) that I had failed. That there was something wrong with me. Remember, this is pre-therapy.

So I didn’t ask for advice. I just left. Chris drove me home. But before she left she suggested- very strongly- that I go to the hospital. My eyes didn’t look any better. And in fact if I didn’t go, she was going to take me herself. So. Off to the hospital it was, then. I’d never been to the emergency room before. I didn’t know if this was really an emergency, or if I was doing the right thing. Plus I kept crying because, you know. Pre-diagnosis. And the crying was not helping the swollen eyes.

The nurse asked me what was wrong. “Ummmm…?” And i pointed. I understand now that the nurse couldn’t possibly have asked me “So, are you here because you look like a stress doll that’s been squeezed really hard?” because really, what if my eyes looked like that all the time? Awkward. I explained what had happened. And the doctor looked at it. And I was diagnosed with fancy words that meant “it’s swollen under your eyes.”


I had to call my principal and let her know that I would be missing the second day of school. I stayed on the couch with ice on my face for about 36 hours. And the swelling went down. And I never found out what happened. (Although I can guess now that something just “released” in my body.) So for years, when someone asked me about yoga, I would tell them sorry, it makes my eyes pop out.

It was scary to try it again. Even if regular yoga didn’t make any body parts try to escape, I was sure that hot yoga would. But nope. Just tension and sweat. And the discovery that something I feared was actually something I love.

Maybe I should try things I hate more often.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Topsy Turvy Day! | Thoroughly Modern Mommy

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