I never thought that this could be possible, but I’m failing yoga. I didn’t think I was doing that badly — I didn’t even think to try to rate my abilities — until this morning’s class, when we were asked to perform an assortment of poses that required sitting on one’s knees.
I was the only person in the room who couldn’t do it.
“Couldn’t you try?” asked our teacher, from behind her librarian glasses perched at the end of her long nose.
“Nuh uh, no way,” I said.
“Here, let me help,” she said.
“Hey, knock that off,” I said.
“You just need to reach around and grab your foot and pull it over your head, while balancing your entire body weight on this other knee,” she said. She demonstrated.
“What the flarch,” I said.
“Your language is offensive to the class and I,” she said.
I decided to try the stretch, because nothing could hurt me more than that sentence.
I wasn’t always a yoga flunkee. I used to practice daily, years ago, until I found the practice of yoga to be more stressful than not going at all.
Several times a week, I attended class at my local gym. Our teacher’s name was Flambé. She loved butterflies.
Perhaps our local gym was too cruel, too electric, for her sensitive nature. She sometimes seemed on the verge of tears when the beats of next door’s step aerobics class over-powered her mind control.
“Just try to experience this moment,” she urged us that fateful day. “Focus on the breathe, embrace your inner-silence,” she said. “Pay no attention to the throbbing beats coming from next door.”
From the slit of my closed eyelids in my inverted-crossed-cobra-back-bend rest position, I saw her rise, and calmly walk to the aerobics room.
Don’t do it, I thought to myself, on the exhale. Do not open that door.
On my inhale, I heard the door squeak open. The techno beats from the aerobics class pulsated on my ear drums.
I heard a thin voice: “Why don’t you come over here and tell me that to my face, bitch!” It was the aerobics instructor. She was upset.
Without a word, Flambé, a tall and skinny blond from Norway, softly closed the door, and slouched back into her cross-legged, seated position in front of the room. Her voice sounded weak.
“Let’s all meditate, shall we?” she said.
We began our process of peaceful introspection, focusing inward on the breath. With my eyes closed in my partial trance, I couldn’t help but notice that the Indian chanting that had once provided a gentle backdrop had moved up so many decibal levels that my hair was now standing on end.
I heard someone offer that her voice was now difficult to hear.
“I said downward dog, goddamit!”
We did not question her intent.
I focused on my breathing, my rapid pulse, my increasing tension. The door and my eyes jolted open. A large-legged woman in blue lycra and high tops, with a brown, curly pony tail on top of her head, pranced into the room and shut off the sound system.
“Do you mind?” she said. “We’re trying to cool down now.”
With a loud shreak, our instructor jumped onto the lycra woman, and all I could see were flying limbs and hair, underscored by the soothing, New Age sounds of Enya coming from next door.
And that is about when I accepted that I don’t have the emotional fortitude to withstand the violence of yoga.