We pull up to a brick building in a regular office complex. I could be researching the title to my house but I'm not. RA Nelson and Associates, Wolfe and Wolfson and Associates in slanted not-quite-cursive letters. We walk in, wind around a corner, another glass door, up a flight of stairs and there is a sign that says "Entering No Shoes zone." There are recently and hastily built cubby holes for our socks and shoes. I pull my too short shirt down over my ill-fitting pants and shuffle in toward the water cooler where I fill my purple metal bottle I found on the floor in the back of the car.
"Last name?" A blonde in a spaghetti-strap aqua athletic top asks.
"Christie. And yes, that really is my last name." My friend answers.
"Yeah. I got an email for a pass to bring a friend." She says gesturing at me.
"Fill this out." The blonde tells me. Name, address, email, how did you hear about us, and chronic or acute physical issues we should know about. I pause here considering what to say. I don't want to divulge this to strangers though, so I leave it blank, skip to the bottom and sign the waiver. I pass the pad back.
Heather has gotten us mats and set up a spot in the corner. We sit and joke while people come in.
The blonde enters, says, "I LOVE bad weather! It's going to be a full class so if everyone could move their mats to make room, we can fit a third row down the middle." She pauses while people jostle around. "My name is Kristin. I'm actually from the Vail Valley. I grew up and went to school here and used to hate bad weather. I wanted to be out on my bike or my board. Now that I'm a yoga instructor, though, I LOVE it! Full classes, YES!"
She gestures wildly with a big smile. "This is life! It's now. It's happening in here. Not on your bike or out there. Today it's in here. Now!"
I can already feel myself mentally figuring if it's too late to get closer to the door just in case.
The class begins with a couple of ohms while standing. By a couple, I literally mean two. The instructor does not do the instructions she barks out. She paces the room and calls out "living big is in here! It is happening in here now!"
She takes us through the same three positions repeatedly. "Reach down, now flat back. Jump back. Low pushup. Updog. Downward facing dog. Now fly those feet forward!" I begin to sweat.
We finally move on. I'm dripping and considering lying on my back with my feet in the air and meditating for the rest of the class. It feels disrespectful and I think of not having put anything on the slip and how I should pretend that I'm normal and everything is fine so I keep going. "Fire is restorative. When something burns through us, it burns out what we don't need so that we can grow." She preaches. "Let the fire burn out what's old, what's not working for you."
I continue to do the poses she requires. My arms shake. The temperature is rising. My temperature is rising and sweat drips. The handful of nuts I've had since 11 am seems to be staying with me ok but I stop and drink some water and drop into child's pose to regroup for a moment. I need to take care of myself. I'm not here for judgment, I remind myself. I'm just going to enjoy what I want from the class. This is not a time in my life for pushing myself.
We're in downward facing dog again and she tells us to lift one leg high. Right leg. "Right leg." She repeats. I wonder who has the wrong leg up, realize it's me. I switch legs. "Ok, now let it dangle over. Reach, reach. Go on, poke your neighbor."
"Gotcha!" Heather pokes me with her toes and I can hear her face smiling in her voice. The instinct to whack someone if they touch me with their feet arises momentarily, but this poke is just the break in the tension I need. I'm thankful it's not the stranger on the other side. Though that must be next. I can't reach the stranger, so I don't poke her. I try and it's certainly not because my legs aren't long enough. I consider for a moment really reaching but my arms are shaking and my hands are sliding on the mat in my pool of sweat and I worry that I will do more than just a slight poke. I could totally crash down on her.
The class returns to a rigorous exercise regimen. I can no longer keep up. I'm getting nauseated, which is actually a little comforting right now. I slow down. Rest in child's pose. Do whatever modifications I want. I am the only one who does this. Kristin continues her sermon about burning through our doubts and what stands in our way of living the pose that is in us now. It feels contradictory to the theme I've come in with: accepting what is now. Not pushing myself because of shoulds or judging myself harshly or consider what will be if this or that. Not getting ahead of myself to next week or a few weeks from now or January. Just being.
I'm dizzy and Heather notices. Concerned she asks, "Are you ok?"
I nod and take a gulp of water. "I'll be fine, I just need to take it easy." I rest and wait for my head to right itself. The room is hotter. I'm drenched and everyone is dripping now. The temperature must have risen 15 degrees since the beginning of the class. I search the walls for a clock, again, and once again there is none. I don't know how long I can take this but don't want to be rude or worry Heather by walking out. I don't want to let the fire burn through things that might be in my way either though. I just want to breathe some normal temperature air!
The class ends eventually. I feel the air coming into the room from the hallway and consider running toward it with an open mouth and gulping in it coolness to quench my aching brain.
"Sorry." Heather laughs at me. "This is the hottest it's ever been in here. I've been to her restorative class. This was hard. I feel great! Some return to yoga for you though, huh?" She adds, "Are you ok?" for the fourth or fifth time.
"I'll be fine. I just need to take it easy."
"I'm glad I came. It feels great afterwards." Heather is energized, vibrant, herself. I smile internally at how good it is to be with her like this. I'm too tired to show it externally. I wipe myself off and drag myself to change clothes and go home.