I have a weird relationship with yoga in the sense that I’m fully on board with a lot of it, yet I also mock it endlessly. I am game for the bendiness and acoustic Drake soundtrack.
I love lemon verbena towels waved in my face with the lights out. I’d do dirty things for a fifteen minute Savasana. (Aside: why is Savasana so amazing? I know full well I could lie on my bedroom floor with a candle flickering and achieve the same atmosphere, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark. Also it means “corpse pose” and this freaks me out and calms me down in equal, odd measure.)
Other aspects of yoga, not so much. What the eff is Lion’s Breath? It’s weird and I don’t like it. I have ambivalent thoughts about “Happy Baby.” It makes me feel foolish and not even the fun kind of foolish. Child’s Pose, on the other hand? All. Damn. Day. One day I’ll open a yoga studio where we only offer child’s pose and thirty minute Savasana and the world will be a better place for it.
There is always at least one dude in a yoga class that wears a headband and no shirt, and he flicks beads of sweat onto unsuspecting women as he grunts and “ommms” too audibly. He’s exactly the kind of person that likes Lion’s Breath. Psychopath. The girls in yoga? Most of us are a dime a dozen and I don’t pretend to be any different. I’m not good, I’m not bad. I try hard but I never really achieve that blank mindedness or perfect practice you’re apparently supposed to find. I check my phone immediately after class. I never stop thinking about work or guys or work and guys the entire seventy-five minutes. Apparently no amount of Heated Vinyasa can expel those two tenets of my life from my brain. Goddamn.
I started going to yoga, in all honesty, because I was drinking five cups of coffee a day and, at twenty-three years old, had developed an eye twitch. (Startup investment culture will do that to you, kids!) I continued going to yoga because it was the only actual excuse I had to not touch my phone for seventy-five minutes. During those seventy-five minutes, SuperExtra Yoga Teacher breathed peace into me that I didn’t know I needed. I was a walking Lululemon ad. And I love the fact that SuperExtra isn’t trying to get me to sign up for her $3,000 yoga retreat in Tulum or join her pyramid scheme on Instagram. She just wants me me to shut up and bend for awhile, and that’spretty cool.
SuperExtra Yoga Teacher is different, fundamentally. She believes in yoga—I can tell. She wears odd jewelry. She says really amazingly extra things, 90% of which do not make sense. The other 10% are scholarly, philosophic bitcoin. Pricelessly good.
Once she asked at the beginning of class, are you restless tonight? Restless is my middle name these days, and I honestly almost started crying. I feel so seen, SuperExtra Yoga Teacher. You see me, don’t you???
Another night during a particularly stormy week in late spring, she compared the uncertainty of the weather to the uncertainty of ourselves and our spirit. She said, be kind to yourself because there’s a lot of wind out there. Protect your heart. I think she saw me roll my eyes, and she not so coincidentally bypassed me with the lemon scented towels during that night’s Savasana. I see you, homegirl. You salty, salty dog.
On another mind bending occasion, SuperExtra Yoga chattered on in her smooth yet slightly husky voice about expectations of ourselves and the weight of the things we carry. Whatever is hurting you, she said, be done. Be done. Be done. Be done.
We are trying out here. There’s a lot that still hurts so good, I justify holding onto it a bit longer. But I’ll be back for Savasana next week.
// Who are your #CityHeroes? Is it your MUNI driver? Favorite barista? That man that works at the bookstore on the corner of 18th and Missouri? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photography by Stephanie Greene.