September was my month for weird places to do yoga. I signed up for both goat yoga and cave yoga after a fairly daunting hot yoga class that left me feeling a bit out of it. (I later realized that I had neglected to take my pills the night before. Hello, crazy town.) Much as I bitch and complain about Facebook, it does clue me in to local events; and without its stupid algorithms, I would not have found either class so easily.
This definitely falls into the little local adventures category as I had not previously visited Olentangy Indian Caverns despite driving by billboards for it for years. It appeared to be a kid focused tourist trap. From where I parked, I could see a maze, jungle gym, outdoor games, mini golf, and a petting zoo that disappeared ominously into the woods. As one of the women there for the class said, “Oh, I can give my son $3 and he’s off for hours.” Babysitting courtesy of tourist trap.
It was surprisingly hard to round up an adventure buddy for this particular event. They all voiced the same concerns that I had used over the years about goat yoga, but after a brief but positive conversation regarding the cave yoga, there had been silence. I wasn’t sure if I was flying solo and was relieved to pull in to the lot by a friendly face.
Adventure Buddy and I entered the little brick building covering the cave entrance and prepared to descend 75 feet down 55 narrow, wet steps. Above ground, the day was sunny and temperate, a perfect fall morning, but the temperature dropped immediately inside the cavern entrance. For whatever reason, my right knee decided to age 90 years in two minutes as I tried to grip my mat and the railing, navigating the slick steps. Each step sent hiss worthy pains shooting through my leg and knee. I let Adventure Buddy know that I would probably use her to cushion my fall.
With great relief, we made it to the cave without anyone squishing anyone else and followed a trail of tea lights into the main cavern.
The Olentangy caverns were inhabited caves. Our yoga instructor who used the stone table as her area to direct the class, assured us that it was a work area and meeting point for the tribe members. While she was centered on the table, other yogis had to find spots in the pathways that branched off from the table area.
We had been told to bring an old beach towel because the “cavern floor can be damp and somewhat muddy.” What should have been said was the cave floor is wet as hell and you need a garbage bag.
I wasn’t concerned for my mat. It had migrated to the status of “outdoor mat” long ago and still had some chicken poo on it from goat yoga. What I didn’t realize was that as the practice progressed, water would seep through the mat particularly in the spots where I consistently placed my feet. Unfortunately, I was very conscious of the dampness. In a normal studio, placing my hand or foot off the mat would be no big deal. Here it meant cold, wet mud which I confirmed by firmly planting one ass cheek in a puddle. ****Side note: Cave mud does NOT just wash out of yoga pants. Soaking required. A garbage bag under the mat might have been better than a towel.
Also while I was sweating under all my layers, my body never really loosened up. It was, as predicted, about 55 degrees in the cave. Talk about being conscious of your breaths, I could see mine.
If you squint with one eye, you can kind of see a cloud of steamy breath during this pose.
While there were tea lights and candles placed in various nooks and crannies, at no point did the the glaring overhead spotlights dim or go out. I was really hoping that at least during Shavasana, we could just relax by candlelight. I’m assuming it was a safety issue and there was no turning them out, but, damn, that would have been cool.
Of all my adventures so far, this is one that I would probably not repeat unless another adventure buddy really wanted to try it. I don’t mind getting dirty and I’m certainly glad I tried it, but it was not the most comfortable yoga experience I’ve ever had.