I DON’T THINK it’d make my old man proud, exactly, to know I signed up for my girlfriend’s hot yoga classes.
In my mind, Bikram yoga—as it’s known among the earthy-crunchy and the flexible—fell right alongside the “alternative wellness” treatments advertised in the back pages of San Francisco’s alt-weeklies. In my mind, it was a step above “ear candling” or “hydrocolon therapy,” at best.
My girlfriend had tried Bikram yoga before, though, and thought it was fun, if too expensive to make into a habit—until last winter, that is, when she scored a top-notch Groupon for a studio in our neighborhood. “Do you want to go?” she asked me one Saturday morning before class. “We keep talking about it.” And before I realized what I’d done, there was the confirmation email in my inbox.
Confession: I had never done yoga. I had never even taken a fitness class before. So my chronic buyer’s remorse kicked in immediately, and I was slowly pulling on my best athletic wear when she came in the room and said, “You’re wearing that?”
She said she thought I’d be too hot. But I thought that was the point? Yes, she said, but people usually wore…less.
And that sparked a tiny panic. While I’m in decent shape now, and I avoid my dad’s tendency to down a family-size bag of Funyuns in a sitting, her words sent me swirling into one of my oldest and deepest anxieties, because, well, I was a fat kid. And the unfortunate truth about growing up “husky” is that, even if you lose the pounds, the shame can take years more to shed.
So as we walked to the studio, with all of this playing at a low volume in my head, I peppered my girlfriend with questions: What if I can’t do the poses? What if I pass out from the heat? What if I FART?