Everyone loves a yoga teacher, especially one decked out in lululemon because some of those clothes aren’t really made for practice; I can attest to that. Trying on top after top only to end up with a veritable assortment of sports bras better made for a kinky night in despite the company’s rather non-yogic vision to me was amusing for everyone involved, but determined, I am, and so I found the one model that kept everything it should in place. And then bought one in another color.
So I took my new, well-fitting gear to practice with me, and perhaps this added another sheen of confidence like the sweat and the heat that is supposed to build during ashtanga yoga and that so rarely occurs for me. Yet when you stand there, stomach bare, at least in my experience, it’s like being an animal in the wild, belly up, vulnerable and potentially someone else’s dinner. I’ve managed not to be eaten alive by Medusa, although the legend does go she turned people to stone. In my experience I cannot be forced into permanent stillness; not while I’m alive and breathing and my mind is working and energy channels flowing however it is they flow with their mysterious, invisible electricity. So instead, I found ways not to end up as part of an all-inclusive, nutritional shake. This is New York, after all.
But scarier than being chased by an aggressive crazy man was starting the familiar ashtanga sequence, the echoes of “vande gurunam” fading out of my head, open and honest. This was more frightening of a challenge that had nothing to do with the utterly bizarre yet butterfly-like bind of marichasana D – one week, they said, for me to get there, even though to me it is not a race, I’d just rather close that gap, those extra inches and have my fingers touch each other, especially since I’ve been feeling the air molecules between them, swinging, as I put one foot and then the other forward on an entirely different street with, perhaps, an auspicious housing number.
I pushed and pulled and breathed, and tightened here, bound and reached there. With all the stretching and clasping and binding of the body, this could be some kind of illicit sexual dance, but 50 Shades of Grey this is not. Nor is it that exciting to watch despite what lululemon’s CEO might want its wearers to look like, the impressions it aims to create for bored housewives, aspiring models and every creepy date that said, “you want to be a yoga teacher, that’s hot,” in an entirely unironic fashion. Because everything happens within: the tiger rolls on its back and the yellow-tinged white of its fur takes on its dose of vitamin D, not relaxed, not still, even though appearing supine and still. That’s not sexy to most. That’s not cool to many. That makes no sense because it can’t appear on instagram, even though someone should take a picture of me walking through New York City crying in public these days. They blinked and missed it and it won’t be here forever.
What is within doesn’t make sense. It’s like a pot of sticky tomato soup left on to boil for too long. Bubbles burst to the surface and perfume the air, the rolling boil laughs in the empty kitchen, and after a while the moisture evaporates leaving a dark, thick ring around the top of the pot. The liquid level falls lower, and lower, and I watch it, pleading – only with my eyes – because I can’t make it up off the floor to turn it off. It’s a disaster. It’s a train wreck. It’s that idiot that jumped onto the subway tracks for $5 today, making a mockery of the people who are really hit and killed, and I’ve lost my voice to try and explain this, in the same way that I don’t understand why I can’t get up and turn off the soup. It’s wasteful and irritating, like the mental itch that I and many other try to wish away and understand or excuse. But there are no excuses. The mind just thinks and the emotions just appear from…[insert explanation here because humans like explanations].
So instead I’m going to lie down in sukasana, and cover up with a blanket, pulling my clothing back into place before feeling those energy currents, the size of my physical self, breathing despite the crushing vulnerability and fear. We’re all afraid of something. I want to go home, but I don’t have my keys yet, and I don’t think the heat is on either, so instead I’ll just feel the feelings and sit with that fear and try not to let it take on other forms before I can just…be…
I am also a yoga teacher because I can guide people into finding their own questions and their own answers, despite what I or anyone else looks like on the outside. This is the life I have chosen for myself: it is the right one.
“I didn’t need these things. I didn’t need them.”