Somehow today I ignored an important lesson from college: never stay in the same room with a guy in a tank top and an acoustic guitar.
But the bride-to-be at the bachelorette party I went to last night had, as the waiter noted, “Madonna arms,” and she said they were the product of yoga.
"Power yoga!" she specified. "Get a good flow going and it tightens you right up."
I used to go to an early morning class with an amazing Mamie Gummer lookalike. We stretched, we strengthened, she gives us a few light intentions and we are on our way before 7 am. Sometimes if we were lucky she’d rub some Tiger Balm on our temples. But I moved and couldn’t make the early morning time anymore, so I’d been out of practice.
So with visions of a Material-Girl upper body I went to a new-to-me yoga class. Not for enlightenment, just pure vanity. I guess I have Karma to blame, then.
I glimpsed a guitar when I got to class, but didn’t give it much thought. Maybe he had a gig! I mean, he had the kind of relaxed demeanor that can’t be kept down by a 9-to-5, man. He doesn’t work, he has gigs.
Class meandered. “umm….” he directed. “uuuummm, swing back and forth.” Great.
But due to the above-mentioned vanity and a discipline for class deeply ingrained from years of ballet, it’s not like I could leave. Just get through it, I thought. Do some good down-dogs into plank into updog and feel those arms tremble as you strive to wear a tank-top as well as Chris Evans. Just make it to Shavasana, or my second, non-body-dysmporphic reason I go to yoga. But Yogi had other things in mind.
"Sit in a comfortable position," he said. "And laugh."
Apparently, this is a thing: start fake-laughing and it will transform to real laughter and improve your mood. People do it. But he was guffawing. He was cackling like he had just seen the best prank ever - and at this point, I figured that was the case. Guy comes into a gym wearing a tank top and carrying a guitar and he’s in desperate need of a roots touchup and he says, “hi, I”m the yoga teacher.” Of course he is. Who would question that?
Finally, after our forced joy, we settled into Shavasana. It’s not exactly a difficult pose to master. You lay down. Boom. Done. However, I’ve read it’s the most challenging pose because the goal is totally relaxation. This is difficult to do when Yogi sees your vulnerable, sweaty bodies as his intimate audience to try some new jams.
I closed my eyes and saw the room lights dim through my eyelids. There was silence - he played something like “nature sounds of the Amazon” during class. So I relaxed and imagined the sound of the weights being slammed in the room next door as my worries falling away. Then Yogi strummed a few chords. It was nice, at first, then he started vocalizing.
There were no words, just some “oohs” and “aaahs” and “uuuggghhhsss” and sounds that got dangerously close to NSFW territory.
"STOP NO STOP NO STOP" I thought as one set of chords ended, then started, into another concerto in which he swapped his baritone for head voice.
"Ok, yoga is about accepting other people as they are? So maybe I need to accept him now, and this is how he is serving and this is his talent so I need to take his energy and have it help my practice?"
Then the grunting/beatboxing started and if I’m supposed to lose sense of time during class I certainly achieved that because this version lasted approximately forever.
At this point, there was no relaxing or taking energy or doing anything except wishing for this to end and figuring out how to not make eye contact on the way out.
Maybe I should stick to running.