My first barefoot step into the room knocks me back. The air is thick and has an odd odor, an unusual mix of sweat, heat and detoxification. The humidity isn’t as high as it should be and the dry heat blasting from the vents burns my eyes.
I carefully, silently, unroll my mat in my spot, almost dead center in the room, underneath a ceiling fan, just to the right of the podium. Unfolding my towel, I spread it on top of my mat and adjust it so it is even and spread flat atop my thick mat.
I place my frozen Gatorade and my refrigerated Gatorade, both purple – not grape as Gatorades lack flavor but are better identified by color – just to the left of my mat exactly at the top.
I shake off my sundress and place it in the bag I just removed the Gatorade from, along with my sunglasses and keys. I exit the room in my short shorts and sports bra. I place my bag in the cubbies and head to the restroom.
As I step back into the hot room, I have a wet hand towel with me. I place it to the right of my mat, near the middle. Glancing at myself in the full length mirror, I adjust my shorts, and check my hair. I don’t check it to make sure it looks presentable, but rather that all the pieces are secured as so that they will not fall into my face.
I drop to my knees and unscrew my Gatorade bottles so that the liquid is easily accessible when I require it. I stretch my left leg back, bending my right leg at the knee in front of me. My arms extend towards the front mirror, past the length of my mat. I tuck my chin in as the stretch starts to burn in my right hip and my backside.
When the burning becomes too intense, I switch legs and repeat the stretch on the opposite side.
I slide back and with knees bended, I stretch my arms further in front me, chin still tucked in.
A few minutes pass and I sit up. I bring the bottoms of my feet together, knees of each leg pointed outwards. I lean forward slightly, just for a moment. My hips are too tight for this stretch, but it is imperative that I keep trying.
I sit up, legs still folded, the bottoms of my feet still pushed together. I begin rotating my head, at my neck, to the left, back, to the right, forward… reverse… repeat… repeat… repeat.
I tilt my head back and look at the back wall. My eyes continue to stretch down the red wall until I hear the crack in my back.
I undo my legs and stretch them forward, placing my palms flat against my mat, next to my hips. I rotate my ankles in various directions, listening to the pops and cracks.
As I continue the snap, crackle, pop routine of my ankles, I bend by head forward, stretching the back of my neck.
The lights slowly raise. A gentle voice greets us with “good morning everyone.”
I stand up, just now noticing how the room has filled up around me. I twist my head to the right, then to the left.
The instructor weaves her way around the placement of the mats in the room to her podium just in front of me. I stand tall and still, staring at myself in the mirror – concentrating on my eyes, and my eyes only. I nod to myself as she begins the dialogue.