As someone very open about her anxiety, I’ve had countless people suggest that I should do yoga. In theory, that makes sense. In practice, I have been asked to leave not one, but two yoga classes.
The first time I kept falling down (on account of bad balance) and subsequently laughing. The instructor sent me to a different class where yoga was performed with the assistance of one of those giant exercise balls. All it took was one minor slip for the ball to shoot out from under my legs and fly across the room, hitting several women in the head en route. That was 2010, and the last time I attempted anything yoga-related.
So when I interviewed Hilaria Baldwin — wife of Donald Trump Impersonator-in-Chief Alec Baldwin — back in December when her lifestyle book was released, I mentioned that yoga wasn’t exactly my forte. She kindly assured me that I just haven’t been in the right environment, and offered to let me attend one of her classes. In my heart I knew this was a bad idea, but her offer was so sincere that I decided to give it a shot anyway.
Like any serious athlete, I listened to my usual pump-up music on the subway ride, starting with “I Have Confidence” from The Sound of Music, and moving on to the Newsies soundtrack.
When I arrived at Yoga Vida, her Union Square studio, I signed in, waited in a line to change clothes and then made my way into the massive room where the class took place. It was larger than my elementary school’s cafeteria and lined wall-to-wall with yoga mats. Eventually, I found a spot next to the wall, set up shop and looked around for an encouraging look from someone.
I got one from a woman behind me — although it was more concerned than encouraging — and she advised me to try and move away from the wall. Looking down at her mat, I noticed she had a large brick at the edge.
“Oh, do we use bricks in this class?” I asked her, trying to sound engaged and competent.
“You mean a block?” she asked, holding up what turned out to be a rectangular piece of firm foam. “If this is your first class in a while, I’d definitely get one.”
After I grabbed a block — not brick — from the back shelf, I stood on my mat, sweating profusely. Again, I turned to my new friend behind me.
“It’s a million degrees in here,” I informed her. “I’m already dripping and we haven’t even started yet. I didn’t realize this was a hot yoga class.”
“It’s not,” she replied, giving me a quick, nervous smile. “But you do know this is a really intense, advanced class, right?”
I did not.
That’s when Baldwin walked in and took her place on a raised coffin-shaped platform at the front of the room.
“Let’s warm up with some oldies!” she said, sticking on some generic-sounding sock-hop music and immediately started doing extremely rapid jumping jacks.
I just stood there, thinking it was some sort of joke, but the rest of the room joined in right away. This was happening.
We alternated between jumping jacks, knee lifts and some bouncy dance steps, all at lightning speed. Once I got over the initial shock of how active this yoga class was, I decided to give it an honest try.
This is the point when I have to mention that for a person with an ample bosom, planning ahead by wearing the proper foundation garments is crucial. Thinking I was going into a gentle stretching class, I treated myself to wearing a low-impact sports bra. I didn’t want underwire ruining my great yoga comeback.
On my second set of double-time jumping jacks, I felt something pop and then snap and whip my cheek. Initially I thought it was my shoulder coming out of its socket, but upon closer inspection, I saw that it was my bra strap.
After doing a few one-armed jumping jacks while holding myself in place, I frantically tied the flopping strap to the top part of the useless sports bra while running in place, hoping no one would notice.
Following the warm-up, we got into the actual yoga. Except, rather than gently easing our way into different poses, it was 30 minutes of rapid-fire moves, complete with words I’ve never heard before, including something that sounded like “Cheddarumba.” Eventually I just got down on all fours and raised one limb at a time while looking down at the floor, trying not to draw attention to myself.
To my relief, eventually we did stay in one place holding poses, while Baldwin walked around inspecting. She didn’t seem like one of those hands-on yoga teachers who repositioned every student — until she got to me.
I braced myself, positive I was going to get asked to leave a yoga class for the third time and immediately started babbling and apologizing. Baldwin wasn’t fazed at all. She moved my hips into a much more comfortable position and then complimented my leggings before moving on. Given this was the first time I had ever worn my yoga leggings to an actual yoga class, I was pretty pleased with myself.
Just when I thought I was going to pass out and/or cry, the lights dimmed and we were instructed to get down on our mats. I know this was the point when we were supposed to meditate or something, but all I could focus on was how there were probably 100 barefoot sweaty people in this room, but it somehow didn’t smell like feet.
At the end of class, I thanked Baldwin for being so welcoming during my not-so-triumphant return to yoga, rolled up my mat and put the brick (I never did figure out what it was for) back on the shelf. I doubt I’ll be going back anytime soon, but I least I know that I was the worst student with the best leggings.