Queen City Nerve

Charlotte's Cultural Pulse

Finding Zen Outside of Nightlife Hijinks
Create a balance

By Ryan Pitkin

February 1, 2019

As you may know if you’ve been keeping with my column here, I’ve been taking a long look at the bad habits I’ve formed while exploring nightlife in the Queen City. As such, I’ve been looking for alternatives to just drinking and gabbing at the bar. I’m not saying I’ve been anywhere near perfect or even tried very hard, but for me at this stage in my life, it’s the thought that counts. And lately, my mind has been on yoga.

Aerin Spruill.

Let’s be honest, everyone’s hopped on a yoga kick at some point under the notion that we would find the inner peace, balance, serenity or the keys to the universe we’ve always been looking for. And most of the time, that search ended after a mere two or three sessions. Personally, I’ve tried yoga more times than I can remember. A few weeks ago, yoga came knocking on my door once again.

A friend of mine has been practicing yoga for over a decade. She’s a lot like me in the sense that she’s always looking for positive outlets to bring a bright light to carry through on cloudy days. So when she offered to share a class pass with me if I came to experience a hot yoga session with her, my first instinct was that hot yoga, sweat and a fresh blowout is a “hell no” from me. I’ll find my zen elsewhere. But I relented, at some point, you’ll go to great lengths to create positive lifestyle changes.

It was a Wednesday night, I forced myself to get up from a nap, throw on some leggings and head over to Yoga One on Central Avenue to meet her. It took all of my strength to let my guard down and discard any inhibitions I had holding me back. After all, yoga can be awkward and intimidating, especially as a young grasshopper in the game.

But I was comforted by my friend’s familiar face as soon as I walked through the door. She’d even taken the time to set up everything for me in my own private rectangle designated by corner tape.

When I walked in the room, I could feel the edges of my hair curling up. #blackgirlproblems. In my cold-blooded ignorance, however, I thought it’d be a heat I could handle without breaking too much of a sweat. I was dead wrong.

We all settled in and the instructor stood up at the front of the room. Tattoos? Check. Salt-and-pepper hair? Check. British accent? Bonus check! This instructor topped the charts compared to any other instructor I’d had. Sold!
I looked over to my friend, who had this huge grin on her face as she said, “This class is more like church!” She was completely right.

I’m not sure what the majority of instructors at Yoga One are like, but Kevin Cross is cut from a different cloth. His approach to yoga is inviting and comfortable. He sheds any empty, “chintzy” phrases that make you feel like you’ve joined a cult or, on the other extreme, make you feel like you’re going to walk out considering a vegan or keto lifestyle.

We spent the first portion of the class introducing ourselves, sharing our reasons for coming to yoga class and discussing the importance of doing each movement correctly. I was immediately put in state of ease.

We eased into the separate yoga positions, holding each for a few seconds and I thought, “I’m good, I’m good. If this is what working out feels like, I’m golden and can do this for the rest of my life.”

And then the flow happened. We’ve all seen that person trying to hold an awkward position for an extended period of time. They’re shaking, losing balance and sweating. Well, that was me. I remember holding one position, shaking, looking at the gal in front of me, also shaking, and looking over my shoulder to my friend and saying, “Dominoes are about to fall.” Human dominoes. What a sweaty nightmare in a hot yoga class.

*Insert loud, childish, awkward laughter that’s not appropriate for a yoga class*

By the time we finished, all my sweaty self could think about was grabbing a damn drink. And then, the best thing happened: nap time. (Way different than my air nap when I was nauseated after aerial yoga four years ago.)

While I did grab a few drinks in a dehydrated state, I left genuinely intrigued in how to substitute and balance my traditional nightlife routine with holistic, physical activity — while still having cow for dinner.

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