Look at yourself fixedly in the mirror! Concentrate! Recognize your face! And there I was, just after half past six in the morning, staring at myself.
Several months ago, because of a terrible pain in my back and legs, I stopped jogging. I started indoor cycling (spinning) without any major problems. So, I became a desperate but happy hamster pedaling to the rhythm of my music without going forward. Everything was nice and well, but one day, my back pain came back accompanied by a shoulder discomfort. X-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds, medicine and sixteen sessions of physiotherapy, were not good enough. The beginning of a lumbar hernia was causing me a terrible twinge. The shoulder problem came from a slight “bulge” of my spine, the doctor said. Thus, I was sure I was being attacked by “The Age”, and cowardly from my back.
Look at yourself fixedly in the mirror! Recognize your face! Bring your elbows forward and away from your chest! What? Up! Ohhhh! Exhale the air vigorously making the “haaaaa” noise. Haaaaa went the girl at my side. Haaaaa, the perfect body of another student. As a wise Japanese, discreet and in absolute silence, I decided it was safer to look out from the corner of my eyes. The teacher was the only one with the right to speak and did it giving us firm instructions in Spanish and in another language that I could not understand. There was no music. The temperature was getting hotter every minute. We will practice twenty-six postures, each one twice! Full lungs, until you feel dizzy! What?
We stretched toward all angles of our joints, we bent, bowed down, stood up, sat in imaginary and uncomfortable chairs, knelt down, rolled up and unrolled. Can I have some water? Not yet! Breath! Stretch your body down as a ham sandwich until you feel a small heart attack. What? A hard attack? Dandayamana, Tuladandasana. Right leg lift up and stretch forward. Kick harder! Do not bend yourself like a rabbit, Rossana! Chin up! Open your eyes! Trikanasana. Padangustasana. Savasana. What? Turn your mat and lie down on your back. Dead body pose. Water. Ahhhh!
That was the warming up exercise. Now the class begins. Uhh? Nobody leaves until we finish! Ninety minutes of pain worth ninety years of health. Relax your face, Rossana! Don´t worry. If you get dizzy, it means that you are doing the exercises well. What? Right ear on your mat. Palms facing up. Arms on the towel. Happy face. Don´t let anyone ever steal your smiles. (And what about my water, uhh?)
The letters of my name written on my floppy mat began to spread, to evaporate, and with them my body and my soul. Cobra Pose. Don´t blink, Rossana! (And what about all the salty sweat coming into my eyes and ears, uhh?)
Between balances and imbalances, Half Tortoise and completely tortured poses, we continued the different positions. Ustrasana, Sasangasana, and other sane, insane and rossane poses, that I prefer not to describe for fear of sullying my diluted honor and wetting, with the sweat of my brow, the letters of the keyboard which I am using to write these hot lines.
It has been more than half an hour since the end of the class and I’m still burning. Haaaaaa! Breath of Fire.
For a few days, I let my writing rest, but not my body and my mind.
I have already had five hot yoga lessons.
Today, I know that the teacher, obviously overestimating us, sometimes speaks in an old Indian language: Sanskrit. I have also learned that the one hundred and ten Fahrenheit degrees of the Bikram Yoga room (“Hot Yoga” as they call it to make it more tempting), have therapeutic purposes.
I can tell you, that after my second class, I slyly turned my mat, as I had read, that inexperienced students who find an empty space near the stove, proudly and gratefully choose it smiling. Huge mistake. That´s the reason why I took possession of a place near the door, the same one that the teacher opens occasionally to ventilate the room. Haaaaa! Moreover, with the humility that characterizes me, skillfully I developed the art of “shut up and be sane”. An old technique which teaches that it is better to ask for forgiveness than for permission. So, when “water not yet!” is heard between the sweating walls, it´s too late. The liquid has already cooled my veins and comforted most of my soul. Haaaaa!
At this point of my story, I find it important to mention that it´s not because of masochism –as I am sure you may be thinking– that I continue in these endeavors. I must say in my favor and also of Bikram Choudhury´s, the founder of the routine, that after a couple of classes, my back has improved. My legs and shoulders are also recovered. Nowadays, when I look at my exhausted face in the mirror, I concentrate on strengthening my body so that I can go back to jogging, cycling, and if it´s possible, to my entire youth. Come on Master Choudhury, don´t tell me that you forgot the wrinkles! Concentrate, Rossana! Meditate! No collapsing! Don´t give up! Forehead on the right knee! Left leg locked on the floor. Suck your stomach in! Elbows locked! Keep calm. There’s no rush. Next time we will practice the advanced postures. What?
Written by Rossana Sala, still in the middle of the Awkward Pose. Relax on your back Rossana, please! Uhhh?
Lima, August 31, 2012.
Spanish version of this text: ¡Girenzumat! ¿ahhh? https://rodandoentrelineas.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/girenzumat-ahhhh/