Danielle Rothman is the most unique yoga teacher I’ve ever seen. If you love teachers who are soft-spoken, gentle, passive, and say things it sounds like they read on a Lululemon bag, then Ms. Rothman is not your teacher. She’s got a voice that’s startling for a yoga teacher, and sounds like the voice of some lady yelling at her husband out of a Crown Heights tenement window and not a stoned California girl. She’s not into create a great vibe. Her jokes are off-color. She regularly gives the impression that she’s saying the exact thing on her mind. I’m also yet to mention that from conversations with her, the heat itself is her main reason for teaching and loving hot yoga. She likes the room so hot that Satan would have to strip in her class to be comfortable. I’ve taken classes next to her where as soon as the teacher opened the door she barked that it was cold. She’s been all over me for a year for skipping her class at 10am on Wednesday, so I made it a point this week to get there and shut her up.
The only problem is that the temperature was going to approach one hundred degrees, so it was either brave Ms. Rothman’s windows-closed and door-closed torture chamber at 10am or muster up all the courage I had to brave the 12:30pm class at the apex of the heat. Neither sounded appealing that morning when I woke up, and I’d already known that my legs tend to quit on hot days. By the time the floor series arrived, I was hot, standing in a ridiculous pool of sweat (the Bikram world calls this a “juicy” class), and surprised that I’d made it an hour without a hiccup. Then my legs stopped working. The worst part of knowing a teacher is having to answer questions after class as to why you struggled and sat so much. I’ve always felt that the hardest part of an athletes job is answering to the media after games where they’ve failed. I commend guys who come out and say “they were better than us today,” or “they beat us,” or “we can’t play that way and expect to win.” It takes a real pro to muster the composure to say those things. Well imagine if the media knew every struggle and excuse you might give, and you were still equally as exhausted and frustrated with your own performance. In those situations I generally don’t have the composure to say “the yoga kicked my ass today,” or “I was incredibly disappointed in my own focus.” But as it happens, when I’ve struggled in a class, these are the things I take away from those classes later that evening.
In reality, I should be able to perform this yoga at the center of the earth wearing a parka. I’ve taken this challenge with the intention of building a seamless and granite-strong focus that I want to apply to other elements of my life. It will take conquering every teacher and temperature out there to do it, and failure should be an option I shun with great readiness.