“High plank pose,” the instructor says. “And hold.” It’s 99-degrees in here and I’m 31 years old which means it’s been like five years since I’ve pushed this hard and my triceps are quivering with instability and my quads are throbbing from repetitious chair pose and one-legged squats in airplane pose and everyone else looks calm and collected and confident and I feel like I’m past my prime. 

I wince and shut my eyes and accidentally groan, but no one seems to notice. Maybe no one notices because they’re ignoring my weakness because it’s pathetic or maybe the tribal music fills the room— the strike of hand against drum, exotic flutes, and undulating throat singing—or maybe I never groaned, maybe I just think I did because the sweat is running into my eyes and blurring the border between what I feel I should do and what I’m actually doing. 

“Stop resisting the pain,” I hear from above my head. “Just notice. Accept.”  My shoulders are going to give in and my lower back aches  and I swivel my head to the right, looking for her. Of course the instructor’s name is Truth and of course she’s a young brunette with a high bun and black sports bra and grey Champion sweatpants and each toe is painted a different color. I look at Truth.

“Last thirty seconds,” Truth says, weaving herself between bodies. The shaking in my chest spreads to my jaw and then my hips and wrists and teeth I start rattling so I clench my jaw and my body wants to let go but I tell myself to stop resisting the pain but my fists are shivering and deep inside my stomach is quivering like I might puke or pee and I don’t know why maybe from heat or maybe from dehydration or maybe from pain so I look at my watch and tell myself to be rationale, I can do thirty more seconds, but I can’t see my watch because of the sweat beading into my eyes and the steam in the room.

I feel the salty sweat run down my cheeks and I taste it on my tongue and I hear the flop of soft stomach against the puddle of sweat pool on a mat and I move my eyes and just my eyes and see the person on the mat next to me dropped down, gave up and so I turn torque my head just a little bit to the right and her back is to me and my whole body is shaking so I wince my eyes shut. Stop resisting pain stop resisting pain. My eyes open even though I don’t tell them to and I see the woman’s back, heaving for air because it’s hard to breathe. The back of her sports bra is criss-crossing strings like Cat’s Cradle. I slam my eyes shut again and in the center of my forehead, the skin seizes together and my head is dark and then I see white circles that become purple which become green and the circles grow and overlap like drops of sweat into a puddle of oil and then the images grow and repeat and they’re all fluorescent and dark like a kaleidoscope during a bad trip and then the shaking enters my shut eye mental hallucinations so I open my eyes and shut my eyes immediately and I tell myself that it’s now or never that it’s this moment in this fucking yoga class that I decide to be better, to be different, to change my goddamn life, to finally stop giving up, and hold out, to hold hold hold, to push push push, for once in my life to refuse to give up, that it’s now, this weak ass 30 seconds with Truth and then I groan again except it’s not a groan it’s a growl and my body is still shaking but I clench my fists and open my mouth and yell like ahhhhhh and my teeth feel like fangs cutting the air and the hair on my neck stands up and I feel like my spasming back muscles shut the hell up and steel themselves into rock that can’t be moved, can’t be bent, can’t be broken and my weak stomach and weak center and weak core turns in on itself and becomes unbreakable and I erupt another growl like AHHHHHH and I shake from side to side like I’m shedding skin or breaking free and my fists are flexed not in pain but in rage and the blinding rage keeps coming and I keep screaming and I feel like I see something and I don’t know how many seconds have passed but my eyes are closed and I’m not resisting the pain goddammit Truth I’ve become a wolf and I’ve become the pain goddammit and when I open my eyes I can’t hear anything except the ringing in my ears, but I see Truth on her knees with one hand on my shoulder and the lights in the studio are on and it’s bright and the steam is gone and the people are gone and the other mats are gone and I look into Truth’s eyes and in the window behind her I see the bright sun rising up and Truth’s mouth is moving but I don’t hear anything because my ears are ringing. 


NOTE TO READERS: HI HI HI. Thanks for reading and sharing this sweaty story about Truth and hot yoga. I write every day. Sometimes just journal. Sometimes raarrrr rant. Sometimes chin stroke wax philosophical. It depends. If you enjoy The Alt Dad Diary, please support my work by sharing, commenting, or supporting financially at patreon.com/altdaddiary. NPR drives and the like always say stuff like “your support keeps us going,” and it really is true. When releasing content for free, it really is the generosity and support of readers like you that feed me and keep this project going. 

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