published in Knee-Jerk Magazine, January 2016
I’m staring at my reflection in the mirror of a relatively new yoga studio, The Funky Om. The name is inviting and implies all kinds of edgy coolness, more so than the other yoga studio down the road and to the left of this one, The Essence. The Essence is crunchier than Funky Om, but it’s friendlier than Awakening Inner Spirit Yoga, because Awakening Inner Spirit Yoga discourages speaking of any kind. That’s asking a lot of me.
I plant myself on my brand-new turquoise blue mat, purchased solely for this new yoga studio experience from an extremely organic local food store. The lighting is dim and encouraging. A thin, cursive line of Nag Champa wafts through the haze, a strong, woody/sweet aroma of incense that is supposed to help guide everyone into a collective, connected state of Oneness any minute now. Somewhere in the distance, I hear a gong.
It’s SO me, yoga. I went to school in Vermont. I wore Birkenstocks at a very liberal, environmentally progressive college, earning a bachelor’s degree in fine art. The back of my Honda Element is plastered with holistically conscious stickers urging everyone to buy food from LOCAL ORGANIC FARMS. One sticker says NO GMOs with a giant red slash through it.
I am Yoga. I sit very patiently and feel the beads of perspiration start to form underneath the latex yoga garb that I’ve stuffed myself into. Someone has evidently turned the heat up, and it’s fantastic because I can feel all of the toxins leaving my body from all kinds of places. I’m also very aware of the crisscross applesauce position I’m trying to conquer and how it’s really more like a wishbone position with my knees pointing aggressively skyward.
I AM yoga. I was a twenty-year old, once. Before I had my children and was launched into my forties, I was just like this gal in front of me, the one who isn’t breaking a sweat despite the fact that she’s balancing everything she owns on one forearm and the temperature has been spiked to 104 degrees. She strikes a perfect profile of grace and thinness-even her nose ring reflects a kind of etherial shine.
My gaze now lands on our instructor, a woman who is just as physically fit as the gal in front of me and is obviously trying to get my heart to seize up. In between all of my conscious breaths, I look over a contorted thigh and notice that she’s sending a worried vibe in my direction, possibly because my flailing free limbs have become a source of concern. Could I please, she frantically gestures, settle back down into child’s pose? I know what she’s thinking; I can’t hurt anyone curled up on the floor like that.
Perhaps it would be a good time to reevaluate any preconceived notions I have about myself. After all these years have I settled into a flexible, bendable level 3 Master? I have not. Then why do I keep signing up for level 3 classes? Good question. If I were to give myself the gift of self-knowledge or even self-preservation, it would be kinder to my ego, my hips and to the people sitting on yoga mats close by. How refreshing it is to finally reach an age of knowing and acceptance. Like the chapters in a book, my Yoga Goddess chapter has ended, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe it’s time for kickboxing. Jen G. Peper