First, the twenty-something gym Guru, the grandmaster Yoga-file—aka, Jennyfer—spelled with an inexplicable ‘y’ in the middle of her name, enviable for her perky physique, and jovial personality—turns down the lights.
Nothing stresses me out more than meditation. When I practiced Yoga, at least I had the pants, the tank top with the built-in sports bra, owned my own mat, and signed up for classes three times a week, the worst part of the whole exercise was the end. For those non-yogis, I’ll paint a picture.
The tune of whimsical wind instruments piped in overhead for the last forty-five minutes is changed to hollow plinking chimes, rolling ocean waves, and bird chirps.
“Okay, everyone, get into Savasana,” Jennyfer, spelled with a ‘y’ in the middle, says. She means, we must move into Child’s pose—forehead on mat, knees curled under the body, and arms stretched out in front—think, bowing Buddhist monks, only with a lot less orange.
“Turn over and lay on your back,” she says. “Close your eyes, arms at your sides, palms up.”
“I want you to relax. Search your body for any tension and release it.”
Jennyfer begins to walk around the class. She distributes soft pats on shoulders, spouts soothing coos of ‘that’s right, good,’ and drapes cold hand towels across foreheads in her path.
“Take a deep breath,” she says and pauses, listening as the room loudly inhales.
“Now, release,” she says, “Relax your eyes.”
This is when our paths diverge. When Jennyfer tells us to relax our eyes, I open mine because I’m sure it’s a trap! Plus, I think I’m just not wired to be stress free.
First of all, my entire body is a giant multi-barbed mass of tension. I’m basically a rigid rubber band left in the elements too long. I’m on the verge of snapping!
Also, what if I somehow relax my body? What if I’m able to get my shoulders to disengage from the middle of my neck? To have a head, a neck, and shoulders, as three separate body parts? What would that feel like? I bet I’d be taller, that’s for sure!
So, what if I am able to let go? Then what? Will I fart?
Picture it—an overheated studio, rows and rows of sweating bodies, soft music, and laboring breaths—in through the nose, out through the mouth—I finally relax and my body tension releases into a long, high squealing trumpet?
There’s no hiding that! There’s no pretending it didn’t happen or feigning surprise and disgust while gesturing to the caustically enthusiastic man doing Tree pose next to me! “Can you believe he did that?”
As for the breathing thing, my default mode is to hold my breath. I’ve spent my whole life in slow self-suffocation. And I’m sure as hell not going to close my eyes, not while Jennyfer (spelled with a ‘y’ in the middle) is walking around touching people and putting things on random faces!
I mean, what if in today’s session, she decides to shake things up? What if, during the calming stylings of crashing waves and sun rising songbirds, Jennyfer decides to dump a bucket of ice water on my head?
What if sweet perky Jennyfer, beyond her planks and pigeon poses, is a cobra waiting to strike? Or what if she grew up with the time-honored big brother assault of being pinned to the ground with a teardrop loogie swaying inches above her face? What if today’s yoga session is payback?
You think I’m going to let Jennyfer (spelled with a ‘y’) do that to me? You think I’m going to be caught off guard? Nope. Not me. Namaste Jennyfer? Nama-my-ass!
This is me and all my maladjusted glory. But I don’t really want to be this way. I’d like to relax. I’d like to have the ability—the talent—of letting go. It would be great to calm down and breathe. To believe in anything but continuous scrolls and swipes. Stop this constant tick, tick, ticking, inside me making my pulse rise, and my adrenaline spike—I’d like to figure out a way to turn it all off.
It’s been a long time since I did any Yoga, although the uniform of yoga pants and built-in sports bra tanks have permanent spots in my everyday wardrobe, and I still own the mat. Maybe, now that we are all scared and nervous about the future, it’s time to take them out for another spin? Perhaps today is the perfect day for Namaste? But knowing me, probably not.