Saturday, October 6, 2007

Yoga this morning. It's been a while, so I wanted to reacquaint myself with the basic idea before my autumn quarter IMA class starts next week.

I like these group classes that cater to women, because I always feel nicely in the middle of the demographic -- not the oldest or youngest, largest or smallest, most or least competent. We're all a little lumpy in spandex and ponytails, barefoot, disheveled. In a sea of black exercise pants, everyone is equal.

Except, of course, the instructors. I reserve a special jealous antipathy for these ladies of peak fitness, lean and friendly with perfect posture, impeccable balance, a wardrobe of suspiciously attractive gym clothes. I don't trust them -- and yet, I kind of want to be their best friend.

My last yoga experience was before I reached legal drinking age. The instructors were perfectionists, physically adjusting our limbs to correct angles, calling us out when we bent the wrong direction or our foreheads failed to reach the floor. There was no world music during class. The studio was cold and the lighting harsh. Yoga if the Soviets had reached India. I left each session limber but stressed -- not the meditative experience that I wanted, not really a workout either.

But today we sweat. The chill of the room burned off quickly with 40 bodies struggling through animal and warrior poses. We breathed heavily. Some seemed to give up, sour looks reflected in the mirrored walls. Some struggled along. Some, I'm sure though I didn't see, enjoyed their ability to master every posture immediately. I dropped to the mat for a pose with a title involving locusts, feeling more like a slug. A girl next to me smiled when I laughed at an overly-optimistic instruction that, "If you want to make this one a little more challenging, just [draw both feet up to your shoulder blades, pressing your spine firmly to your forehead, keep all weight on your fingertips, and exhale deeply.]"

Then we got to the napping part where we lie on the floor with our eyes closed, palms up, and focus on releasing all tension. I was not at all bothered when the instructor wandered by to move my head some few degrees that miraculously made breathing easier and the whole of life more pleasent and serene. I inhale deeply, and my toes relax. Hurricanes slow to gentle breezes, traffic glides smoothly through Everett and Tacoma, the divorce rate drops 3%, and the middle east takes a moment of silence. I exhale deeply.

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