I arrived dressed in work heels, work make up and work hair.
I grabbed the keys to the changing room and peeled off the day, putting on my yoga pants and top and taking off the shoes I had been in since 7:30 a.m.
It had been a long day, but something was still missing.
I had not yet sweat!
Before yoga, I had never worked out. I was raised to be a lady, and being a lady and sweating never quite equated for me.
And the last thing I would have wanted to do, at the beginning or at the end of a day, was exercise.
But the sweat! I cannot explain how much I love it! How good it feels to work my body hard, so every muscle is engaged, so the sweat pours.
On this particular evening, I arrive late to yoga. I had visited a relative in the hospital and had sat with him for a bit after work. I did not want to rush my visit; my whole family was concerned for him.
I got to the studio with barely minutes to spare and changed quickly. By the time I entered the room, the music was playing, the class had begun, and I squeezed my mat into a space at the very edge of the crowded room.
I was far from my usual spot up front and close to the middle, and I could not even see the clock. But, I cared not a lick, happy to just to step to my mat and more than content to join in.
How did we get here so fast? I am always so unaware of the time going by. It rains on my mat as I am brought to that zone by the music and the instruction.
Before I know it, my arms are wet, my back is wet, my face is wet and so is my hair.
In each Vinyasa, or transition, I pop into a Handstand and set my intention on my uncle who was in the hospital, holding the pose as long as possible while watching the drips of sweat speckle my mat below.
In college, my sorority dedicated a song to me, Lionel Richie’s Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady. I think about this when I am upside down and feel the sweat dripping UP my nose.
Doing yoga has been so completely liberating. I started out so very self conscious, and now I just am not.
I do not care what is going on with my hair, if I have to double up my shirt to cool off, or what is with my leftover make up.
Before I know it, we are in the final resting position of Savasana, or Corpse pose. We just lay there on our backs, listening to the music and cooling off.
Not being near the clock, the end has caught me by surprise. I had thought we were only halfway through!
I am soaked, and ready for more.
We end the class in the usual manner, in a seated position with our hands in prayer.
Take in some positive energy, our instructor says, and release what you don’t need.
I feel calm yet energized, cool yet hot. I think about white stars falling on my recuperating relative and inhale what I imagine to be the same.
Reluctantly, I roll up my mat and change my clothes.
On the way out, I run into another yogi on her way in.
With her greeting, she mistakes me for the lady I am trying so hard NOT to be.
Look at you! she exclaims. Did you even sweat?