Today I took a three hour yoga workshop hosted by the infamous Shiva Rae. Well, I think she's infamous. She has videos and stuff. Anyway, my yoga teacher told us about this and my crazy neighbor Amy thought it would be a splendid way to spend a Saturday morning with me and our other neighbor Carla. So, off we went, with some trepidation about the unknown, but confidant in our yogic abilities, cute matching yoga bags in hand, water bottles at the ready. After navigating the streets of Ballard and finding Leif Ericson Hall, we managed to figure out how to pay for parking and headed into our three hours of endless yogic bliss.
Mats were set up in a spiral around a central area that contained an unknown item (it looked like a mini fireplace or something but I never got close enough to see) and many candles. Steve Gold, his wife Anne-Emelie, and the rest of their band were ready to fill our morning with live music. Shiva Rae herself suddenly appeared and....wow. Beyond the rocking body and the very large and prominent "tramp stamp" tattoo on her lower back, she spoke in an otherworldliness as though she was having a little spiritual interlude with herself (or maybe she just tokes before class..........either way........). The workshop started out with a lot of talk about our "inner fire" and some "om" type chanting and some singing. Well, some holding of long notes like "om" "ah" and "meh". There was also some tribal like dancing.........I was pretty sure we were just about to get our Indian names (Shark Bait, ooh ha ha), when we started doing what I recognized as yoga.
Only it was more like X-Treme Yoga. We bent our bodies in ways I couldn't even be pursuaded to do when motivated by giving birth to an 8 pound child through an opening the size of a silver dollar. Actually most of the room bent those ways. Carla, Amy and I bent about halfway. Perhaps not having the advantage of being a yoga teacher or the benefit of a large tattoo, we were amateurs. But we gave it our ALL, I'm telling you! We bent and twisted and sweated with the best of them. At one point Amy looked up at me, gasping, sweaty, curly hair pasted to her cheeks, took one look at me and burst out laughing (because I was gasping, sweating, and had hair like Medusa). We were VERY close together and let's just say I was inches away from both Amy and Carla's butts the whole time (poor girls, that meant they were inches away from MINE!). At one point Carla accidentally slapped me in the head.
I can't remember all the Sanskrit names for everything we did but they loosely translate to "downward dog", "plank", and "some crazy ass balancing type thing where your legs are sticking straight out and nothing is holding you up except your TWO HANDS". I did not participate in that one. I think I passed out for a second. Being able to do the splits would have come in handy here too, as we did a lot of stretching our legs to their maximum limits, and I remember squatting like a squaw dropping a little pappose baby on the tundra. I'm pretty sure I felt my heartbeat in my cheeks.
Later we got to help each other do a pose that translates to "stick your leg out in front of you while balancing your entire body weight on one hand then sweep it behind you and go up in full plank only grab your other leg and while you're at it, fly". Wasn't so good at that one, either......
BUT, here's the good part. We were finally, finally at savasana, which is my favorite yoga pose (well after suptabadakinasana, but only because it's more fun to say). Savasana is where you basically are "all done" and "take a little nappy". Only suddenly all these hot, sweaty bodies next to me were doing backbends!! And lifting their legs in the air! And they weren't even passing out! Then we sat up again, which was a little disappointing since I was just getting my nap on, and we rolled our mats and put our butts on the rolled part and said something like "Om, rhe, nama, shivana" a bunch of times........I think 108 times. I mean, you'd think if I chanted something that many times I'd remember it, but I'm pretty sure I was having heatstroke at that point and suffered some damage to my brain.
We finally got into nap mode again, but instead of the nice teacher coming around and doing this comfy little head squeezing thing on you, they just let us lay there and then before I could even doze off (pass out), we were sitting up again and saying some more Sanskrit stuff (but we didn't say "Namaste" which is the only yoga word I really know, damn it), and we were done. Amy, Carla and I wiggled our way into the very small closet where we had to deposit our purses and shoes, and I escaped to a stairwell where I could finally breathe some fresh air. We made a beeline out of there and headed to lunch where we stuffed our faces, drank gallons of water, iced tea and lemonade and tried not to notice the waitstaff looking at our sweaty, red faces and damp clothing (plus they didn't get too close while delivering our food, I'm sure we smelled ripe).
Did I love it? Well, it was every bit as hard as a triathlon in terms of effort. Would I do it again? Maybeeeee.............I came away with an exhausted/energized combination that was pretty nice. Does Hot Yoga sound intimidating now? Hell to the NO! Bring it. I survived three hours in a sauna with 120 bodies closing in on me moving in ways God never intended. I can do anything! Namaste!