The hypnotic rhythm of Eastern music and the smell of incense engulfs me. In a voice like calm water, the instructor gently guides. My Ujjayi breathing empowers me to hold impossibly difficult and long poses.
Like a prayer, I silently chant, “I am one with the universe…I am one with the universe…I am one-dering what the ‘It’ jean for fall will be. Hmm..So many shapes, textures and colors for denim.” My mind drifts, but I don’t judge. I gently shift back to blank space and breath. “Wide leg distressed? Distressed cropped? High-rise straight leg? Relaxed skinny? Harem joggers?” Thoughts swirl like a buzzing fly. Before my mind drifts to the outer regions of this season’s must-have boots, I make a deal with myself. If I cease and resist superficial brain chatter immediately, I can swing by Barneys on my way home from yoga. My sales girls can set me straight. I settle back to serenity. It embraces me like a warm blanket.
“Remember this is never a competition. Be gentle and kind to your body and being. You do not have to take each pose to its fullest possible extent. It matters not what your neighbor is doing,” The sonorous voice of my instructor prods.
“Like Hell it doesn’t matter!” I’m thinking, as I stare distractedly at my neighbor with the Gollum arms; striated muscle and veins popping. She performs a flawless split while balancing on two fingers.
I’m starting to get my blood up. If Gollum can do that Pranawana-whatcha-call-it-pose, so can I. My attempt fails miserably, but I pump out five perfect chatarungas pretending that was my intention all along.
It was easy for the Indus-Sarasvati civilization to remove ego and move toward enlightenment when
they developed yoga and recorded it on palm leaves 5,000 years ago. They were the ones that made up all this crazy shit and obviously had pretzel bodies and zero percent body fat. Could they have foreseen the modern day overachieving power professionals, executives, housewives, and mothers removing ego from their daily workout regime?
Why pretend we aren’t comparing ourselves to everyone else in the class? Why not be really honest? Deeply honest. Heck, why not start a competitive yoga league? An American Ninja Warrior meets The Crossfit Games, and toss in a little rhythmic gymnastics for good measure. The Yoga routines could be set to pulsating Avicii remixes or hip hop. The costumes could be flamboyant; impossibly skimpy. (Didn’t Lululemon “accidentally” release see-through yoga pants?) All of America could gather around the flat screen every Sunday night and cheer on their favorite Yogi. Participants could take monikers like “Hulk Yogan” or “Shock Raw”. The finale of each action packed routine would be Shavasana. These professionals would really bring it home with the stillness of corpse pose or happy baby.
A note from the author: While “researching” this post, I discovered that I violate eleven of the fourteen “Yoga Etiquette Tips” on a regular basis. A few examples of my most blatant violations: (1) Be punctual. Are you kidding me? (2) Don’t talk during class. Not realistic if you’re me. (3) Stay to the end and silence during Shavasna. I don’t “do” Shavasna. It’s not because I’m so wound that I can’t relax or don’t want to take the time. I’m too good at it! I plunge into a deep sleep; punctuated by snoring and drooling. Hey, at least I abide by the personal hygiene rule…