bad yoga

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hilary slater

Feb 5, 2010, 8:02:40 PM2/5/10
She'd never had a bad yoga experience before. Yoga was always yoga. Calming, soothing, an escape from the house full of kids and work and endless cleaning. She knew that if she could just make it through the week until Friday, then yoga would melt away all the stresses of the day and refresh and repair her for the weekend ahead. 
She had been attending yoga classes for 6 years, sometimes 3 times a week, with all different instructors. The community centre yoga was free, and so close that she could run there in time for class after she'd prepared the family's supper.
And, just as she'd done all the Fridays in the past 6 years, she ran giddily to get there, making sure to cross the road safely, and then race like the devil to get there on time. They closed the door at 6 so she couldn't be late!
She slipped in just as the lights were being turned lower for the initial meditation period. She grabbed a mat and set it out for herself, slipping off her socks and lying down with her usual sigh of relief and pleasure. This was her only time to herself. The world had to leave her alone for one hour, and she felt the peace melting over her.
The instructor walked in then. She was a new woman. She looked Russian or something, petit, dark hair, but something edgy about her. She walked over to the sound system. Suddenly the most horrific screeching began to play through the speakers! It made her think of the noise a saw might make if you dragged it forward and back across a sheet of glass, incessantly. She sat up. Something was terribly terribly wrong!
As she did, she groaned inwardly. The woman was lighting a stick of incense. She was terribly allergic to incense. Particularly the kind that smelled like sweaty hairy armpits. The smoke drifted towards her. It was the sweaty hairy armpit incense. 
NO! This couldn't be happening! She just came here to escape the screeching of children, the noise of TV and the smell of tenants bad cooking (and hairy armpits). She tried to meditate and ignore the irritants. It wasn't possible. 
The teacher began walking around the room instructing.
"Lie back and relax. Empty your mind of all thoughts. You have nothing to do, no where else to go. For one full hour, you are here and you must leave your thoughts outside the room"
(Oh, WOE! I full hour?  How could she survive a full hour of this?)
As the teacher walked past, she whispered, nervously, anxiously, "could you turn the music down please since the speaker is right beside me?"
The teacher did turn it down, but the screeching continued. The noise was incessant. Sawing, screeching, continuous and monotonous, 'Had she bought her CD at some indian garage sale?' She wondered. 
And then she instructed them to breathe in deeply. Breathe out deeply. The incense wavered it's smoke towards her. She stood up and moved her mat farther away from the smoke. But the speakers were louder in that corner. She looked towards the hallway. Would she be able to lie outside and do her yoga there? She wondered.
Woefully she lay down and tried to calm her mind. Why am I being tested in this way? She thought, and tried to find an answer. She could focus her mind, find her inner calm, make this yoga experience her own. She lay there. 
The exercises began, and she followed the instructions methodically, stretching, enjoying the feeling of removing her days tensions. 
And then the calm would be lost as the smoke wafted over, blocking her nostrils, making her head ache. How could she do yoga without breathing? Her mind began to wind in circles with the screeching noise as it wound in circles in the same rhythm as the smoke. Oh, this was all wrong. 
She glanced at the clock. She had never, in all her 6 years of yoga, looked at the clock. And certainly not in the first 5 minutes of class!
The instructor was very strict. She dropped her articles, making her sound quite hitlerian. She didn't dare not follow instructions, felt the panic seeping through her. She was lost!
The class wore on and her head felt dizzy and light. At least they were lying down. She could perhaps stay low and avoid the heavier smoke above.
But then came the sun salutations. Oh the worst!
"Stand. Lift arms. Breathe in. Drop arms. Breathe out. Lift arms to sky. swing arms to back. Lean back. Stretch neck."
It felt like some sort of prison camp dictatorial regime. 
Suddenly they were told to bend over, to touch the floor. She looked at her coat and socks beside her. She glanced up at the instructor. She too was bent over, head down. A light of intense awakening suddenly blasted into her brain.
She left her mat, grabbed her coat, socks, shoes, and ran for the door. She didn't dare look back. 
She would never be able to attend Friday yoga again. But then again, the children were easier to take than this!

H i l a r y   S l a t e r
Sustainable Landscapes

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