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Archive for the ‘yoga’ Category

One of the stories I plan to include in the memoirs I will realistically probably not get around to writing is the tale of the time I saw a rooster on the way to yoga. I don’t want to give to say too much now for fear of spoiling the story for you when it eventually doesn’t come out, but I think there are a couple of salient points we can safely discuss now without affecting your experience for when you never get to read the whole thing.

Without giving everything away, I’ll just tell you that one time, I saw a rooster on the way to yoga. Which is to say that it was me who was on the way to yoga, and that I happened upon a rooster while en route, and not that I saw a rooster that was itself headed to yoga. However, even without any avian theatrics or mysticism, the unexpected appearance of a rooster in one’s path can lead a person to certain realizations that that person may not be prepared to face. To wit:

  • There is no previous experience in your life that you can call upon for guidance on how to behave in this particular situation – not even having seen a seal several months prior;
  • That number for the Marine Animal Rescue League you’ve been carrying around in your wallet for the past several months will not help you now;
  • Your life has gone astray if calling on the assistance of a someone who still lives at home with his parents reveals you to be the weaker party;
  • Although you have no association with the rooster outside of this one interaction, people will think you’re weird because of it.

Obviously, not everyone will think you’re weird for having seen a rooster on the way to yoga; not at first, anyway. Your friends will probably have some questions, the most harrowing of which, you suddenly understand, will be “What did you do?” Because the true measure of a human being is not the number of unusual situations they face, but how they behave in the face of those situations. Having seen the rooster is not a defining characteristic of who you are any more than the color of your clothing is a defining characteristic of who you are, unless you’re wearing textiles that borrow from mood ring technologies and/or you’re the sort of sullen high-school student who can only fully express the futility of algebra by composing poetry on your arm.  In the long run, though, while your friends will probably remember that you saw a rooster, that’s not a way that they would describe you to a third party – as “saw a rooster one time,” – although they might describe you as having a weird obsession with poultry.

But the people you will immediately encounter after the rooster encounter, the ones at yoga with whom you will likely be most eager to share the story in response to their perfunctory how-are-you’s :  these are the ones who will think you’re weird, because they have little to no other frame of reference for you in which to store that information. “Saw a rooster one time” is all they’ll be able to say about you, until their memory of the actual event starts to degrade and the information changes in their brain, metamorphosing from “There’s that girl who saw the rooster; weird,” through “There’s that weird girl who saw the rooster,” and then pausing briefly at “Every time I see that girl, I get this weird craving for chicken,” before finally arriving at “That girl is just weird.” And that seems unfair to me : just because you sometimes find yourself in a place where weirdness is happening, that shouldn’t necessarily mean that you’re weird.

One of the major drawbacks, though, of constantly planning a story that you’ll never get around to writing, is that you still do a whole lot of revising, which can lead to drastic changes in the resolution. In the early drafts, I was just the poor, unlucky girl who happened upon a rooster, a victim of people’s poor memories and misunderstanding, doomed forever onward to be uncomfortable in the presence of the sharply kitten-faced gentleman who was staffing the check-in desk at yoga that day, thwarted from ever responding to his usual “Can I get your name?” with the grandpa-esque “Will I get it back?”

Now, however, older & wiser (although I should like to point out that I was at least wise enough at the time not actually to tell anyone at yoga about the rooster, nor ever to zing Kitten Face with my quippy comeback), I understand that being repeatedly exposed to weird things does in fact make you weird. Not in the same way that exposure to radiation will alter you at a cellular level, but in the way that, if the only common factor in every situation is you, there must be something particular about you that is contributing to these situations. Which is very easy to understand in terms of other people : people who are constantly complaining about work, their neighbors, drivers, people in the library or in the grocery store; whatever they are bringing to these interactions is somehow contributing to whatever it is they’re complaining about, even if (or especially if) what they’re bringing is a simply a lack of understanding how to resolve the situation amicably.

When it’s you, though, it can be difficult to see what makes up your negative contribution. But, with maturity, I have come to understand that, if you don’t want people to think you’re weird, a simple thing you can do is simply stop telling them how fucking weird you are all the time. And this, finally, is one of the major reasons that the memoirs will probably never get written : it’s difficult to write a story about yourself in which you’re not the hero, you’re not the victim, you don’t transition from one to the other even once, never mind back again. You’re just a person who saw a rooster one time, and watched it walk away.

If anyone were to ask me what is my least favorite thing about yoga, my answer would have to be getting kicked in the face by strangers.Yoga is not a contact sport, so this doesn’t happen in every class; in fact, if I were to tally all the times it’s happened since I began practicing yoga 8 years ago, I would come up with the grand total of 5, including the time some lady hit me in the heel with her head*. 5 times spread across 8 years might seem paltry, until you consider that outside of yoga, in those same 8 years, I have been kicked in the face 0 times.

What is most irritating about this is not the actual point of contact between another’s foot and your face; as I said, this is not a contact sport. No one is trying to kick you in the face, and there is seldom any real force propelling their foot your face-ward. What is most irritating is that you can always see it coming.**

Clue number one is that the class is very crowded. This should be fairly obvious; if there is plenty of space in the studio, people are unlikely to set up their mat within kicking-distance in any direction of another class member.

Clue number two, and this is really the vital ingredient in the face-kicking stew, is that the person in front of you does nothing to acknowledge that there are any other people in the room. Which is, in some ways, the point of yoga; you are there to concentrate on your own practice, not to worry about what anyone else is doing.

However, it is possible to recognize that there are other people in the room even if you’re not concerned about what they’re doing. The face-kickers, unfortunately, don’t understand this. Which is what makes them so irritating. Because, yes, if the room is empty, take up all the space that you want. If you want to flail your legs high up into the air before doing a push-up, have at it. And if there’s a reason that you need to do half-moon pose:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

at the very back of your mat, instead of at the front like every one else, certainly pose to the beat of your own drummer. But when there is someone directly behind you, with less than a foot – or sometimes 6 inches – between the back of your mat and the front of theirs, then, maybe, you should recognize that the space you have to occupy is limited only to your own mat.

Sadly, this goes unrecognized by the face-kickers (it is extremely obvious to the face-kickees). And so, as you attempt to practice behind them, you’re ability to concentrate on your own practice is compromised by your attempts to dodge those flailing feet in front of you which, like the Japanese Cedar Longhorned Beetle or that creepy walking fish, has left its native territory and invaded yours. So your own half-moon pose, not terribly steady to begin with, becomes even less so as you must constantly move your head from side to side, or up and down, whichever way will keep it out of the path of the wobbly foot that has encroached upon your air space.

And this, this inability to settle into your pose, is infuriating. Because, really, what the hell is their problem? Do they not know where the front of their mat is? Are they completely unaware that you’re behind them? Are they so self-absorbed that they think they’re all alone in the class? Is there anything at all that you can do to make your presence known? Do they not hear as you keep falling over? Can they not see the correlation between them swinging their foot to the left and you hitting the floor? Because it happens every single time they swing their foot. Are they idiots? Should you swat their foot out of the way? Should you bite them?

And then, gloriously, blessedly, the entire irritation train comes to a halt in that brief moment when their foot finally hits your face. Because, even though you avoided it like it was the plague covered in cooties and rolled in chocolatey sprinkles, it doesn’t actually hurt. At all. It’s like a co-worker tapping you on the shoulder, except that it’s a toe, on your face. And that toe jerks back suddenly as though your own face were a fiery cootie-covered plague. Because now, oh now; the person in front of you knows; they know, finally and definitively, they know that you’re back there. Even better, they can’t believe that they were so careless as to kick you in the face. So the rest of the practice is smooth sailing, at least for you, as they are now the ones contorting themselves (beyond the requirements of the pose) in an effort to remain out of your way.

So, I guess I’d have to change my answer; getting kicked in the face is not actually my least favorite part of yoga. It’s the build-up to being kicked that I don’t like.

 

*I know that sounds like I kicked her, but I was lying down at the time of impact; what she was doing and why it included overshooting the top of her mat so far that her face hit my feet, I couldn’t tell you.

**Obviously, I did not see it coming when the lady hit me with her head; in that instance, it was the contact that was most irritating.


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