Laura’s New Potato

This week we’re premiering a new column – Laura’s New Potato – where TNP co-founder Laura Kosann takes you through her experience of a “popular potato” on the lifestyle scene. At the end, check out where the fad falls on our new five-potato rating system. This week it’s all about hot yoga. After all, there will always be a new potato…

I never considered myself a yogi. In fact, when I used to think of yoga, it was much like how one thinks of running the marathon, fulfilling New Years resolutions, or keeping a journal: Far off notions that are lovely to think of in theory, kept safely at a distance of course.

I’m a very impulsive person, so naturally when I excitedly signed up, I didn’t realize it was hot yoga (a classroom kept at 104 degrees). At walking into class I thought perhaps they’d gotten a bit carried away turning up the heat in light of the recent cold weather. I quickly made the connection, and hey, I’ve always liked saunas, so where could this go wrong? Thoughts of purity and visions of myself six months from that moment – rejuvenated and doing head stands against white walls twisting every which way – soon turned to wonderment at whether or not being nauseas before class started was a good sign. I glanced at the girl next to me for signs of encouragement, but she was laying deep in silent prayer…or thought, is it? When I opened my water bottle, the cap’s twist reverberated through the silent room like nails on a chalkboard. From my classmates glances you would’ve thought I’d graffitied insulting slang about the Dalai Lama on the mirrors. My fate as “the new idiot” was sealed.

When the instructor walked in, she spoke in a whisper and everyone began to inhale and exhale heavily. I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to help; in my case it more had the effect that hot boxing or sniffing glue does to a person, but I did it anyway (I was already in hot water with my classmates).

The movements were definitely a challenge. I’ll admit, I actually felt I was discovering muscles I barely knew I had. Each time I got tired I was instructed to sit in child’s pose (I’m not sure why they call it that. I have never nor do I ever expect to see a child sitting like that). There was Downward Facing Dog, Upward Facing Dog, and deep realizations that I have never, ever had any actual arm strength of note…

At the end of that first class, we lay in final Shavasana, which is the point of total relaxation. You lay on your back, close your eyes, and wait for five minutes. In my case, that meant literally counting to 300 seconds. Questions came up for me as well, some significant, some not so significant: How do people keep their minds empty? What does this all mean? Will I order Motorino later?

My favorite part though was when the teacher asked that we take that peace from our Shavasana out with us when we gathered our mats – aware of our peers – and maybe even when we took to the streets during our day-to-day lives. I marveled as I delightedly tip-toed over my classmates, peacefully holding the door for two girls, feeling excited about this new patient and peaceful way of living. I would do it; I’d be a new woman. Nothing could stop me. As I took to the street to hail a cab, a woman upstreamed me, hailing an available one coming up around the corner. Suddenly, everything I had so firmly believed in for the past seven minutes quickly fell by the wayside as I sprinted after her…I want to be patient and peaceful, but as of now, the ratio of cabs to humans in this city just doesn’t allow for it.

Loved the yoga though.


– Laura Kosann