I probably prepared more than I needed to, and I definitely worried about Gaijin Shock more than was necessary. I waved my panties at no one.
The 8:30 start time for the short (one hour course) meant that I had to kill time between work and workout, but the other weekday evening short course begins at the hour I leave work. The schedule will be better when I ramp up to the regular hour and a half course, which I will enter after I have done two more short courses.
I shleped through the rain to the studio. It is less than five minutes from the Kashiwa station, across from a well known local shrine, on the 5th floor of a building. Five Japanese women and I piled into the elevator and went on up. The average member seems to be around my age, mid20’s to mid30’s, and they seem to be there for general workout more than spiritual reasons, they seemed more relaxed and less made up than an aerobic s group but less new-agey than the average Japanese bellydancer/ yoga/innerbody workout/gall. With the shape I’m in nowadays, and my height being what it is, I no longer feel like the ungainly foreigner, nor do I particularly stick out. Despite it being my first time (and the only first timer in the class) I was utterly average for the class: My waist flexibility and back posture rocks but I’m lousy at balancing. I’m getting ahead of myself.
The studio is tiny, but everything is here.
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The only moment of Gaijin Shock was two women who responded to my question as to where the bathroom was and then did giggly double takes at me.
It should be noted that while in the yoga studio, in an all female (non-bellydance) environment, my Japanese speaking voice becomes very high and very polite…higher even then when I am asking for something from a superior.
Changed into my yoga togs, and holding my liter of water, locker key, and orange towel, and entered the room.
There, in the steamy sauna of the Hot Yoga room, were many white towels on the floor and many people sprawled out on the towels with smaller white towels covering their faces. I was reminded of Okinawa, when my mother and I took a ferry through an hour and a half of rough water and eventually realized that there was a very good reason that many Japanese passengers were sprawled out on the filthy carpeted ground floor. Staying on the lowest level of the ferry, flat on my back, imagining better times, was the only reasons I didn’t throw up for the duration of the trip. As Dean Mommy says, there are times in your life that you are rudely reminded that your body is a bag of liquid and things floating about. Hot Yoga is also a time when you become aware that your body is a bag of liquid, and that your skin is a membrane, not a wall.
I picked a towel and lay down, covering my face with the orange towel. I breathed in through my nose and started to get used to the 100 degree, 65% humidity of the room. It wasn’t too bad. After five or ten minutes the class started and the instructor gave me, the one first timer, the quick skinny on being a first timer: Don’t go at 100%. Don’t compete with those around you. Breathing…
Well, I don’t really have the ability to take anything at 60%, but what followed wasn’t too strenuous. Belly dance keeps me limber. There were moments where, when in poses that prevented me from having a clear visual, my form in regards to little things was not what it could be. The instructor often moved around the room during the class and could quickly clue me in with a hand gesture or adjustment. This type of yoga goes through the same number/order of poses each time, so pretty soon I should have the routine in my head. As I have said, I have good waist flexibility, getting my head to my knees is not a problem. Balance is something I need to work on, which was not a total surprise. My ankles can be dodgy and I knew this from dance.
The heat didn’t overwhelm me and I didn’t feel like I was sweating as much as I thought I would. I felt pretty chipper about making it through the hour. I was giddy and a bit light headed. I showered up (although I was last in line in the mad dash for showers.) And brought my pink face up to the front counter.
A word about my face: I flush pink. I always have, no matter how fit I am, and once my face flushes it goes a wicked crimson. My heat beat might not be racing but my face screams at people. When I dance I always wear a layer of pale green foundation under everything to neutralize the pink. When I first took aerobics classes in Milwaukee I recall picking something up at Walgreens (CVS) after class and having the check-out lady ask me about my vacation and sympathize with my sunburn…which I did not go on and did not have. I can feel the heat from my face and it irritates my skin. I am often reminded of a character in Rushdie’s Shame who blushes for the shame of those around her and does to so fiercely that it burns her from within.
I am happy that no one showed concern for my red. I purchased a memebership and my first 10 class ticket and headed home.
I don’t know if I drank too much water after class, but I do know that I spent a great deal of the night waking up to urinate..and this morning had a headache as if suffering from a mild hangover. My muscles aren’t sore, but they are a tinge tender, as if I stretched a great deal, which I did.
I have reservations for next week Tuesday and Thursday because my schedule doesn’t allow anything sooner (tonight I see Elijah’s show, Thursday I practice my dance set, Friday I dance at SimSir, Saturday I have a dance workshop and class, Sunday I have the dancing with fire workshop, and on Monday I turn 31..)