Just ahead there is a pair of feet in the air with toes that cannot stay still as the ankles they are connected to circle round and round. To my left there is a man rocking on his back, holding his knees tightly to his chest; to my right is a woman seated with a purposeful stillness and an audible whoosh of breath in and out her nose. The room is packed. On my mother’s recommendation I have signed up for one month of yoga – thirty dollars for thirty days.
I have always had a negative predisposition to the practice, or at least as it exists in America. Something about a room full of white people practicing an ancient Eastern tradition with the hopes of loosing a few pounds but then retiring to their cars and iPhones and excess feels a bit too much like cultural appropriation for me to comfortably join in. Then there is the matter of interacting with someone who does yoga. Because they never just do yoga, they do it. Is there a Kool-Aid served at yoga that I have not yet heard about? Talking to someone who does yoga always seems to hit that New Age gag reflex I thought every self respecting Yankee had.
Alas, I am here. I feel an odd mix of humbling awkwardness and striking incommodiousness, as I am an atheist in this room of believers. My cold joints groan as I make my way to the floor. The mat I sit on is pink with orange flowers, but it has been sitting in my car all night and I do not feel any of that joyous warmth its hibiscus’s allude to. “Sun Sal. 1. Arms and gaze lift…” I glance around the room. There is a dance happening and everybody knows the steps but me. The teacher has this corny tshirt on that says, in Comic Sans, “if you can breathe, you can do yoga.” I do not know what I have gotten myself into. I relax a bit, though, when I realize that there is repetition involved. I appreciate this. I plant my hands next to my feet and step back into a high plank and it is all me. My bones hold me up; my muscles move me. I break both a sweat and a smile – I stood on one leg and held my toe and looked in the opposite direction and hardly even faltered.
As we lay down for the final resting pose a voice breaks the silence. “Admit something: Everyone you see, you say to them, ‘Love me.’ Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.” The teacher with the corny tshirt goes on, “Still though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect. Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye that is always saying, with that sweet moon language, what every other eye in this world is dying to hear?”