Sayaka & Anthony photoby Sayaka Matsuoka

The glass windows facing out towards State Street drip with moisture, creating streams of transparency on the clouded panes — a result of the cold, 40-degree weather meeting the radiating heat from the 90-degree studio.

The first time I tried hot yoga, I almost passed out.

I’m not in bad shape or anything — I play tennis, run, do home workouts, even things like P90X or Insanity when I’m desperate. But this is a completely different workout.

I’ve done yoga in the past and have had my raggedy purple mat for almost three years now. I’ve practiced in different studios across Greensboro and I even lugged my mat along when I went abroad. I’ve always enjoyed the relaxed, wholesome feeling it gives me after the class. The rejuvenation and mindfulness. But I never really felt like I was getting a workout.

Instead, yoga was more of an outlet for stress and a way to reset myself at the end of every week. It helped me feel centered and less anxious about daily life whether it be work, school, family or just my perfectionist, type-A personality filling up my head with unnecessary angst.

I discovered power yoga about a month ago. I knew the studio heated up to 90-degrees and that it was a flow-based yoga practice. Based on vinyasa movements, yogis would “flow” through several movements like downward dog, plank, upward dog and standing or tree pose several times. I knew all of this from my previous experience with yoga and yet I still had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I entered the roasting studio and set myself up amongst 20 other yogis. I had never seen this many people in one studio before. This was a popular place. Rather than going through the practice with the students, the instructors at this studio walked around guiding us like drill sergeants. They seemed somewhat stricter than the other instructors I had experienced before and I soon found out why.

Following the instructor’s cues, we started off in child’s pose, one of the easiest poses in yoga. You lie on the mat knees out wide and fold forward. Everything that came after this repose almost killed me. Within the first 20 minutes, sweat was flowing from my face and trickling onto my mat. Not only did we move through the poses faster than I could keep up, everyone else in the studio was super fit, focused and intimidatingly intense. This was nothing like the relaxing yoga I had come to know and love. At the end of the hour-long class, I gathered my materials, wiped down my sweat-soaked mat, and dazedly walked out of the studio. I felt like I had just finished a boot-camp workout. I hadn’t felt this thoroughly exhausted in a long time. I hated it. The people there were all beautiful, doing handstands while I could barely stay standing. They toted their Lululemon mats and drank water from their Starbucks cups. I felt like I had been transported to the West Coast.

I signed up for a monthly membership the next day.

The reason was simple; I felt amazing afterwards. The practice is hard and intimidating but if you can get into it, you’re a champ. This isn’t your ordinary kumbaya yoga, this is power yoga and my new favorite thing. I go at least three times a week now and I’ve gotten stronger. I even bought a $60 yoga mat.

I’ve been converted.

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