I walk in. The temperature is normal. Not cold. Not hot. Healthier people than I are walking in the front door and past me on their way to the studio. Theyâ€™ve done this before. I, Nic Turiciano, havenâ€™t. My co-columnist Kate Bennis tries to assure me that thereâ€™s nothing to worry about.
Iâ€™m feeling nervous for the first time since Bennis and I began the NHIE column. Yoga? This isnâ€™t my thing. I drink beer. I sit on my couch. I take notes on a laptop because my wrist gets sore from writing. One look at me, and itâ€™s obvious that I havenâ€™t stretched in years.
Bridget Baxter, the co-owner of Bikram Yoga Fort Collins, is at the cashier desk saying hello to the incoming patrons. Bennis and I introduce ourselves. Pleasantries are exchanged. Baxter chides me for never having tried yoga before. I say I hope I make it the whole way through. I only half mean it.
Bennis and I proceed to the studio. I open the door into the large barren room and am immediately hit by the heat. I tried to mentally prepare myself, but itâ€™s hot. Itâ€™s 105 degrees, to be exact , with 40 percent humidity.
Baxter reveals during the class that the environment is made to mimic the climate in India. Iâ€™m thankful for Colorado winters.
I follow Bennisâ€™ lead (she has yoga experience) and lay out my mat appropriately. We lie down and start to prepare ourselves. â€œThis isnâ€™t so bad,â€ I think, â€œThe heat is almost refreshing.â€
The class begins. It starts with â€˜breathingâ€™ exercises, which I find to be more difficult than the name implies.
â€œPalms together. Hands over your head, and reach toward the ceiling. Breath in through the nose â€¦ out through the mouth,â€ Baxter instructs.
I listen. I abide. I drip with sweat.
We have our first moment of relaxation. Iâ€™m lying face up on my mat with my palms toward the ceiling, and I smell the classâ€™ collective emissions. Itâ€™s salty and warm smelling and â€¦ and â€¦.
Weâ€™re back to more breathing exercises. Iâ€™m not sure if itâ€™s supposed to be this way, but more than my lungs are working. My lower back aches as I arch it toward the wall behind me. The balls of my feet are dying. They want to kick me in the groin. I can tell.
In through the nose, out through the mouth.
Why does breathing hurt my spine?
We rest again. Iâ€™m back on my mat. My mind is dulled, but my senses are heightened. I pace my breathing. I take deeper breaths. I smell the people around me. Itâ€™s still salty, but itâ€™s more than that. The smell makes me â€¦ hungry. It reminds me of something.
We start the floor exercises.
â€œKnees together, heels 6 inches apart. Hips on your heels,â€ Baxter says.
Thereâ€™s more to the pose, but Iâ€™m not able to go beyond the knees, heels and toes part. I try, though. I arch my neck and back toward the wall behind me. It feels good â€“â€“ new. And then I lose my center. Sweat has made me slick. My body slips off of itself involuntarily.
We relax again. My breathing doesnâ€™t need adjusting this time; itâ€™s already in control. I focus on the smell. Still salty. Still familiar. Itâ€™s food. Itâ€™s something Iâ€™ve eaten before.
Weâ€™re back on our feet.
â€œRight knee up to your chin. Fingers locked. Grab the ball of your foot, and extend to your forward facing wall,â€ Baxter says.
I canâ€™t get into this pose. My body feels like a donorâ€™s, rejecting my brainâ€™s commands and pursuing its own agenda. Then again, my mind wonâ€™t do what I want it to either. Itâ€™s still thinking about the smell. I realize Iâ€™m hungry.
Iâ€™m back on my mat, face up. I know what the smell is, but I donâ€™t know what it is. Itâ€™s all I can think about.
We are instructed into another pose. On our stomachs, we elevate our arms, legs and necks to the ceiling. Iâ€™m willing myself into it while realizing that it is the exact opposite of the hedgehogâ€™s defensive maneuver.
We finish and relax again. This time the lights are switched off. The class is finished. I lay there smelling sweat, and I finally realize what it reminds me of: The pork chops that my grandmother cooked for me when I was a child.
My mind is finally free to relax.
Columnists Kate Bennis and Nic Turiciano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org._