Love it or hate it: Hot yoga

by Jessie O’Brien

Love itThe first time I did hot yoga was at a Bikram studio in my early-20s. After powering through my nausea in the 90-minute class in 105-degree heat, I drank the Kool-Aid. My thoughts have since changed about Bikram. The intense heat seems slightly masochistic, and the consistent routine each class had me feeling stagnant (not to mention the founder, Bikram Choudhury is a fraud and a pervert). But my thoughts haven’t changed about hot yoga in general.

21st century Americans are afraid of any sort of physical discomfort. Our home thermostats are set to a cozy 70 degrees, when we’re hungry we (over)eat, when we’re mentally drained we watch TV. Writing can satisfy the desire to challenge my brain, and hot yoga satisfies the desire to challenge my body.

There are some gross things about hot yoga – being near other people sweaty bodies and sweaty smells, the potential to catch athlete’s foot. It grosses me out at times, but people are gross, man, and so am I, and so are you. I would argue that going to a hot yoga class is less gross than not taking care of yourself. In the end, you’re doing something that’s good for your muscles and mind. Occasionally being uncomfortably close to a sweaty man in little tiny shorts is worth it to me.

— Jessie O’BrienHate itBefore I go off on my hot yoga tangent, let me start by saying this: I feel like I’m getting the short end of the stick with these love it or hate it columns. I’m always on the crotchety-old-woman end of things, primarily because we keep picking gross subjects to discuss our respective love or hate for. I promise I do like things. A lot of things. Especially brownies.

Anyway, exercise is good, and you should do it. If you want to exercise in a hot ass yoga studio that smells of other humans, be my guest. But it is not for me.

Regular yoga is cool. It’s all zen, and stretchy, and like . . . healthy and normal temped, but hot yoga is the pits. Literally. It reeks of the pits found on every crevice of the human body. That is because in hot yoga, some jerk cranks the heat up to infinity and then you exercise in it. And then you get nauseous because, well, your body is not meant to steam cook.

That is how people die, you guys. You’re supposed to swim in the heat, not do downward dog or whatever. I can’t even stand it when the seat heaters are on in the car. I definitely don’t want anything to do with a seat-heater version of yoga.

Also, this is a mountain town, where the air is thin and you get winded walking up a hill to your car. Why would you make that into a punishment by going into a pit-of-fiery-hell yoga studio? If you fall for that hot yoga trap, you’re going to be breathing in hot, thin air full of farts and body odor. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

— Angelica Leicht


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