Bikram yoga is like eating at Denny’s. Sweatpants, mesh tank tops and shoulder hair are all tolerated and acceptable. It smells pretty bad in those classes and the instructor generally looks like they sleep in a van with curtains.
The place I’m doing yoga now is more like Red Lobster, where you can wear sweatpants, mesh tank tops and let your shoulder hair fly, but you’re gonna get the stink eye from the waiter and the stuffed sailfish on the wall. The rooms smell fine and the people there generally have pretty decent hygiene. You’re going to stand out if you look like a schlub.
WONDERS OF YOGA TECHNOLOGY
I brought my ratty blue yoga mat and beach towel combo to the first few classes in my new yoga studio, just like I did at bikram. Nobody looked at me funny, but I felt a little out of place surrounded by new high-tech rubber yoga mats and towels that looked custom made. Being out of the yoga game for a few years, I decided to see what changed and went right to the top—Lulufuckinglemon. Far from being intimidating, the new lululemon was warm, inviting and managed by a former volleyball player who I used to media relate for. She ordered a young man to climb a tall ladder and fetch me a black fancy yoga mat that boasted dual-use for hot or normal yoga and sweat absorbency. $400 well spent.
The next class I busted out my lululemon mat, unfurling it like a mighty yoga god in front of a packed house of 30 or so students who each had slightly used versions of my wonder of modern fitness technology. Class began and my new grippy absorbent best friend and I did some serious frickin’ stretching.
HERE’S WHEN THINGS GO BAD
When the yoga mat touts its absorbency, it doesn’t differentiate between normal sweating and man-bear sweating. Normal female perspiration is light, loose and smells like Lily of the Valley. Normal guys sweat slightly more and its often accompanied by the aroma of taco meat. Lululemon mats can handle both. But when I sweat, it also smells like Lily of the Valley, but if you took the whole valley and filled it with clear liquid, mostly from my face, back and ass. Did that make sense? I sweat a lot when I do yoga. You happy? And guess what? The mat and its science were no match for my body and its chemistry.
I started slipping around the 30-minute mark in some warrior something pose. My back foot slid about two inches and I had to catch myself with a free hand. It was scary for everyone involved because the last thing the girl next to me wants or expects is for the guy in the sweat-soaked Tigers t-shirt to slam into her while she’s trying to stretch her psoas. I tried wiping my hands on my shirt for traction, but it was my feet that were the issue, slipping and sliding out from under me during each torqued pose. See, I left my beach towel at home because I thought this mat could soak up all my sweat and keep my laundry bills down. Nope.
CHILD’S POSE IS FOR QUITTERS
Slip. Slip. Tweak. The class kept moving fast and the temperature rose and as my muscles weakened and my balance deteriorated, I knew a torn ACL was in the offing if I kept going. I flipped my mat over so it was sweat side down and rubber side up and it made it way, way worse. I flipped my mat right side up and dropped into child’s pose. For those uninitiated, during hard classes the instructor always says, “Don’t forget, child’s pose is available for you if you need it.”
What they mean is child’s pose is for quitters.
I was in child’s pose like a big, baby, quitter. I figured there was at least 20 minutes left in class and the last thing I wanted was for a class full of yogis to judge the pudgy guy smooshing his gut into the mat in quitter’s pose. I stood up and carefully tip toed through rows of arms and legs until I exited the room. Twenty minutes of standing in the hallway hoping no one talked to me was rewarded with the class being over and me slinking back in to get my disgustingly sweat-soaked mat.
To this day, I have not forgotten my towel.
Which is now one of those custom yoga jobbers.
Because I’m fancy.