Competing with Yourself

vomit, gif, yoga, sick, upchuckThere’s no feeling like it.

There’s nothing you can do about it.

You must give in to it.

“Welcome to Tuesday night’s practice,” the instructor said as she started the class. Then, while I stood with eyes closed, hands pressed together, she urged us to make an intention for the practice.

“And forward fold,” the instructor urged.

If I forward fold one more time it’s going to be over white porcelain, or whatever material they use to make toilets.

I tried to ignore the rumblings, but with each contortion I felt the contents of my stomach creeping higher and higher, like one of those hand-drawn thermometers used to track funding for fireworks. This campaign was going to meet its goal. I started thinking about what was in my stomach. Was the Wagyu burger putting up a fight? Could it be the French Onion soup? Or was it the small plate of leftover smoked chicken with whole wheat farfalle pasta? I bet it was that damned grilled zucchini I ate before leaving the office. I never liked it anyway. The squash variant was trying to make a break for it.

“And Chaturanga….Upward-facing dog.”

Now my right wrist started to hurt. The sweat started pouring forth like some polluted aquifer. My arms glistened while my mind wandered. Am I about to puke?

“And Utkatasana, chair pose,” the distant female voice gently guided.

Oh god, no.

I was two burps away from striking intestinal oil. I started scanning the room in search of a receptacle that could contain my projectile vomit. Then I counted. Three prostrate females. That’s how many I’d have to hurdle to get to the brushed silver cylinder that would be my emergency retch holder.

After a few half-stomached Sun Salutation B’s, I decided to call it quits. Child’s pose was too taxing. Only one pose left: Savasana (Corpse pose).

One of the tenets of yoga is to only do as much as you can. Tonight, all I could do was a few salutations. That’s all my body had in it. As I reposed on my saturated yoga mat, I became disgruntled with myself. I had been eager to return to a more regular yoga practice. Instead of celebrating what I was capable of doing tonight, I focused on my vanishing flexibility, the imminent up chuck, the pain in my wrist and other irritations that I have yet to let go. The greatest backslide was my lost mental focus.

Today reaffirmed my body’s rejection of nice things. I was treated to a very nice lunch by a vendor. Then wound down the night at a free community yoga practice.

Lunch ended with the waitress offering me a steaming hot towel to wipe my hands after my burger.

Yoga ended with me sopping up my meat sweat, and maybe a few tears, with a hand towel wondering why I came.

The good news is that I managed to keep the zucchini and everything else down, just not my expectations of myself.

Hot Yoga: The 11th Circle of Hell

There’s a moment when you look down and discover every part of your body is glistening. In all my years on this earth, I can safely say that I have never had sweat emanate from the top of my knees.

As I embark on my December staycation, I decided to do some things that I don’t prioritize while working. Sadly, yoga is one of those activities. I’ve always enjoyed yoga as a stress reliever and flexibility booster. Plus, I’m often one of two guys in a class. Should any of those women need someone to clean their pool or cook them delicious meals on a semi-nightly basis…

Last night I started an unlimited, one-week trial at CorePower Yoga. I exited my car and briskly braved the 15-degree temperature as I walked into the studio. After reading a sign about shoe karma, I put my shoes in a cubby hole, then signed up with the two young women at the front desk.

I changed into my gym clothes and entered Studio 2. I was greeted with a warm bitch slap to the face. It was more than warm. It was more than just humid. It was sultry. I rolled out my mat and started to stretch. So we are all clear, when I say stretch, I mean I flailed my arms around gingerly and reminded myself just how far my toes are. When I practiced regularly I could get the heels of my palms on the ground. Now, I’m like a little kid desperately wiggling to reach the candy on the shelf just out of reach. I looked into the mirror and saw that most of my forehead was moist. I apologize to the ladies reading this post. I know how most of you feel about words like “moist.”

“How am I sweating and I haven’t really exerted myself in any capacity? This doesn’t bode well.” I cracked the seal on one of two water bottles I brought to class. I toweled off before we started our practice. I’m not entirely sure if calling this class a “practice” is appropriate. At no point in my life do I want this degree of perspiration to be acceptable.

We started class with some cat/cow poses before some basic salutations/flow moves: forward fold, forward bend, plank, lunge, warrior, Chaturanga.

I’ve done these before. This isn’t so bad,” I thought. This would be one of the last moments I could form coherent thoughts.

The instructor, who was a great motivator, picked up the pace and intensity of the class. Yoga Sculpt incorporates free weights to the session. So, a warrior pose would include a shoulder press, bicep curl or tricep extension. At first I did the poses without any weights, then I grabbed the dumbbells for a few.

After one of the series, she asked the class if she should pump up the heat. The masochists and sadists loudly shouted “YES!” Could no one see I was wasting away on my blue mat that was quickly turning into a Slip ‘N Slide?

It was at this moment that I discovered I was standing directly under an air duct connected to hell’s furnace.

“And let’s bump up the humidity!” she exclaimed from the thermostat.

I swear on all things holy…Lord, I’ll do whatever you ask of me. Or any god, saint or deity. Can anyone hear me over the bumping Top 40 jams?

I made it about 45 minutes through the class before visions of the sweet, flexible baby Jesus doing downward dog started popping into my head. Then I had to sit down for a spell. It was at this moment that I observed that every inch of my body was soaked. I looked in the mirror and, like Mulan, wasn’t really sure who was looking back at me.

The last minutes of class, and potentially my life, were burpees and squats before stretches.

While laying in Savasana waiting for my heart to find its way back into my chest, I bid adieu to baby Jesus the showoff. The instructor came around with cool, lemon-scented rags. I’ve never valued anything so much in my life.

Eventually I peeled myself off of what once was a yoga mat and gathered my things to exit. In the locker room, I observed that my sleeveless, navy gym shirt transformed from a Rorschach of sweat to one continuous, soaked rag of all impurities I’ve ever ingested. I rang it out, got in the shower and dry sobbed. I left all my fluids on the mat.

In my life, I have treated Dante’s Circles of Hell as a checklist, reserving the secret 10th circle for myself. I learned last night that there’s an 11th for hot yoga.

On my way out they asked how I liked it. I shared that it was quite warm. “Oh, that wasn’t even the hot class. Hot Power gets up to 103.”


arrested development, sobbing