My Love-Hate Relationship with Hot Yoga: Guest Post by Hissy Fit

Back pain with that? Don't mind if I do!

Back pain with that? Don’t mind if I do!

“Why do I do this to myself?” I ask, not for the first time, as I attempt to stand in tree pose.  It’s not that I find hot yoga hard, but that I find it boring.  Or rather, boring AND hard.

I haven’t done yoga for over a year.  In that time, I got pregnant, had a baby, and learned about the joys of motherhood and back spasms.  Pre-baby, I had no idea that nursing could cause back pain.  Or that picking baby up and putting baby down 30 times a day could cause one’s back to clamp up.  But the worst — the very worst — is carrying baby in carseat.   Put baby in seat.  Bend down to buckle baby in car.  Drive to destination.  Take baby out of car.  Repeat.

Now that baby’s 4 months old, I’m back at yoga.  Hot yoga, to be specific.  After a year out of yoga, I find myself unable to do a forward fold.  Prior to motherhood I could touch my fingertips to the ground.  Now I’m lucky if I can touch my knees.  

Clearly, parent ergonomics was not considered in car seat design.

Clearly, parent ergonomics was not considered in infant car seat design.

Hot yoga, I say to myself, will speed up my flexibility.  The room is scorching; my muscles are loose.  Yet even in the sauna that is hot yoga my flexibility is abysmal.  My camel pose looks like I’m practising kneeling upright.  Forget about happy baby pose.  My baby does this pose at all hours of the day; it is his favourite way to have fun.  However, even with straps, I cannot get into this position. The one time I attempted it, my hips literally locked up.

 I had a caesarean birth, losing all of my abdominal muscles in the process.  I have not yet recovered feeling in my abs; mostly they feel like dead nerves.  So whilst yoga is usually about core strength, for me it is about back strength.  My abs do not engage.  I once made the mistake of looking at myself in the mirror during Warrior 2, and my ass was literally hanging over my mat.  I tried to pull it in, but I just fell over.

Forward fold. Maybe one day.

Forward fold. Maybe one day.

What I like about hot yoga is that it is too scorching to engage in spiritual chit chat.  I have long since stopped dropping in at random yoga studios.  I simply had to stop risking ending up with an instructor who spent the first 10-15 minutes talking about being “centred” and “letting go.”  I just paid $15 for the class, I think, let’s get to the damn stretching!  (Clearly I’m not getting the “letting go” part.)  Hot yoga, by contrast, starts at the appointed time and stops at the appointed time.  Usually there is a Namaste at the end, but I can deal with that.  

Prior to motherhood, I did not like the savanasa. Now it is my favourite pose.

Prior to motherhood, I did not like the savanasa. Now it is my favourite pose.

It is probably clear that I don’t go to Bikram.  Rather I go to the bastardized hot yoga studios, the ones who offer the hot yoga part, but who skip Bikram.  I tried Bikram twice, probably not enough, but I did not enjoy it.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I liked the athleticism of it, the vigour, the strength, but I could not abide the militarism.  No, for me (right now anyway) yoga is all about stretching.  About unkinking my back.  And about finding my abs.


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About feministfiguregirl

I am a 51-year-old professor named Lianne McTavish who receives as much satisfaction from working out at the gym as from publishing my academic research. About eight years ago, I decided to combine my two primary identities (scholar/gym rat) to create "Feminist Figure Girl," a fictional character who both analyzes and participates in bodybuilding. I competed in my first figure show in June of 2011, and then wrote a book inspired by the process, published by SUNY Press in February 2015. In this blog I will write about and consider my ongoing research on the body, while regularly making fun of myself. I recommend that you start reading my first post from August 2010 (available on the home page), instead of backwards from the most recent one, in order to get the full FFG effect.

4 thoughts on “My Love-Hate Relationship with Hot Yoga: Guest Post by Hissy Fit

  1. That last photo is the most realistic depiction of my personal hell that I’ve ever come across. *shudder*

    I concluded long ago that yoga is not at all appealing to me. I much prefer weight room meditation, or bike-induced endorphins, or the simple joys of hiking. I hate yoga with a raging fiery passion. I just don’t get why it’s so popular.

    That was my long way of saying that if you don’t really love it, you needn’t bother doing it! There’s lots of other ways to stay fit and flexible. I’m sure you know that. Anyway, I’m a new reader and am enjoying your stuff. Thanks!

  2. In terms of c-sections and abs, I think everyone’s experiences are different. I have found many great posts online about how to begin re-connecting and strengthening abs, usually starting about 6 weeks postpartum. As for me and my lazy ass, I have waited 4 months to begin gym/yoga again, though in fairness this is because I have been organizing my time differently.

    As for yoga and it’s appeal/unappealable, I’d love to see a debate here on the topic. I too find yoga intensely dull but still find it the quickest route to flexibility.

  3. I feel the same way about yoga Hissy Fit. I don’t have kids yet so I can’t comment on the losing my abs part (although there is certainly not much to begin with). But I find it a good workout/stretch and enjoy the benefits after I go. Steeling myself up to go to a class however, takes a good three weeks. I don’t think I could ever commit to more than once a week… I find it boring too. I try to stick to the hour long classes instead of hour and a half and those are easier to make myself go to. As to hot or not hot… I HATED bikram when I tried it, I found myself very angry by the end of the class. Moksha is OK… not a huge fan of being so slippery with sweat that I can’t get a grip on my mat, or the frequent nosebleeds I get in downward dog. My favorite yoga classes have been ones that are short, fun and the instructor explains different ways to do the pose that suits your body/level.

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