Let Down Your Hair...
(Part six of a novella fairy tale)
Let’s Get Ready to Rumble
The day flew by, but not without a silent but meaningful eyebrow lift from the hot older guy from the 7th floor, a fist bump from Lucky Chucky, the 11th floor Lothario, and even an ‘alright then’ from sad sack Mr. McGrimster himself, the security guard.
I couldn’t wait for my yoga class. As tightly wound as I was, I was ready to kick some yoga butt. Granted, kicking arse is generally frowned upon in yoga, especially during the stress- reducing postures of the Hatha practice. Competition was a dirty word, an abhorrent philosophy contradictory to the four-thousand year old mental discipline that strives to prove a. that we even have a higher state of consciousness and b. that we’re worthy enough to actually achieve it.
I settled my sitz bones right in on my yoga mat, grabbing the fleshy parts of my ass out of the way and shifting to ground myself. Hell yeah! I crossed my legs and cupped my palms facing up on my knees, ready to grab whatever the universe had to dish out.
I jammed my eyelids together and started my ashtanga breathing, pretending I was roaring waves in the ocean. Inhaling peace, exhaling anxiety. I heard someone’s bare feet pad up next to me. Even though my third eye was dying to take a peek, I remained still. I heard whoever it was unroll their sticky matt beside me, a whipping flick that for some reason, irritated the snot out of me. Inhaling peace, I fluttered my left eyelashes just a smidge, the better to judge. I knew it!
“Namaste,” came her whispered greeting.
“Namaste,” I repeated back, not moving my teeth. Rats. I hadn’t been to yoga in like three weeks, and now I’m next to Gumby? She said her name was Kavya, which means poetry, so someone in the class, Jef One-f, (a really cute guy, but I made it a rule to never date anyone more flexible than myself, and/or, if truth be told, one who never asked me out) made up a rhyme about her:
There once was a girl named Kavya,
Who wore on our last nirvana.
Throw your downward dog a bone
And leave the rest of us alone.
Even though you’re hot, I wouldn’t wanna be-ya.
I’m not proud to say that I laughed along with everyone else after class at that. I honestly tried to like her, until she once tried to adjust my half-pigeon pose. Then it was ‘hands-off, beyotch.’ She knew all the proper pronunciations of the poses, too, and even liked to correct the teachers. Susie, who sometimes came to this class with me swore that Kavya was really born in Cleveland and her real name was Peggy. For ones seeking enlightenment, being stuck next to Kavya probably meant it wasn’t going to happen.
The class was crowded and you could practically see everyone projecting their private force field around their mats. We began our sun salutations and I kept spying on Kavya to make sure mine were better, straighter, deeper. I held the poses until my hamstrings cried uncle. My downward dog was flawless and the teacher even pointed it out to newcomers as a picture perfect pose to strive for. Nirvana that, Kavya!
My root chakra was getting on down with its own bad self. I was breathing and snorting, Kavya was hitching a ride on my rhythms, and soon began to sound like a gored bull in her attempts to breathe louder than me.
Our yogini, Dobby, yeah, like in Harry Potter, go figure, was really good and intuitive, in spite of her name, and began to sense something was up in our corner of the universe. Dobby was tall, pretty in a ‘don’t ever need any make-up kind of way’ which is as pretty as one can get, and would never be mistaken for anything other than a yoga instructor. The only thing Dobby had in common with Harry Potter’s house-elf was the baggy white knotted tank shirt she wore. I guess we were just a mean-spirited class, because to my knowledge we never did ask how she spelled her name, it could have been D-A-B-I for all I knew, which was sort of pretty. Or maybe she was a “Debi” from Appalachia, trying to escape her roots.
“Set your minds free,” Dobby’s voice was as soothing as if she had just sucked on several Dove milk chocolate candies and melted them into the roof of her mouth, “and set your intentions for your practice.” She was now standing between mine and Kavya’s mats. “Inhale peace,” she inhaled deeply, “exhale warmth and lightness to all the beings sharing our journey tonight.”
I exhaled, purposefully directing my golden beams of love everywhere except to the left of me. Petty? Yes. Deserved? Entirely. I busted Kavya watching me, trying to stretch deeper and deeper as the poses became more difficult.
We stood in eagle pose, one of my favorites, I think because I have really wide feet. I crossed my arms, holding my entwined limbs in front of my face. I kicked off and crossed my right leg over my left thigh, wrapping my foot around my standing calf, balancing on my left foot. I sank lower and lower, lower than Kavya at any rate, and channeled all the strength, flexibility, and endurance I could muster. I stared ahead but my peripheral vision picked up Kavya’s wavering concentration.
Dobby, her ankle bones cracking as her bare feet purposely circled near our mats, chanted: “Yoga is not a competition. What happens on your mat, stays on your mat.” Kavya and I paid no attention, sweat dripping off our elbows onto our mats, stripes of strain staining beneath our breasts.
I didn’t know how much longer I could hold on. My breathing was so labored I probably could have brought forth a child with less fanfare. And there it was! Kavya, wobbled, tilted, and touched down! Her right foot hit the floor. I won!
Dobby clanged her brass chimes together, bringing the class to an end with a unifying ohm. “Ohm....” her lyrical voice infused with love echoed around the room.
“Ohhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...” I had enough oxygen left to wipe up the floor with Kavya. We sat there, only a few feet apart, separated by my obvious victory. Our hands were on our knees, middle fingers grinding into our thumbs. People started rolling up their mats but Kavya and I were still on the final mmmmmmmm note. After what seemed like an eternity, Kavya gasped, like a drowning woman breaking through the waves.
“Namaste,” I said sweetly, my hands in prayer position, my fingers lighting touching my third eye. Kavya ripped her mat from the floor and stomped out. I don’t even think she said Namaste back to me. How rude.
I rolled up my mat with what I am afraid was a most unpleasant smirk on my face. I was so fired up I felt like I could go take a spin class. Did Rapunzel and Phux really have anything to do with this feeling?
Dobby came over to me. She was rubbing her hands with a lavendar/lemon grass essential oil. Her eyes honed in on mine as her subconscious asked for, and was granted, permission to touch me. She dotted my third eye with a fragrant finger. I sat on the floor as she stood in front of me and pushed my shoulders down. She muttered some yogini bullshit that sounded like boom-shaka-laka-boom-shaka-laka which probably meant, ‘my peace is better than yours.’ Even though I was looking down I felt her smile.
“Are you OK MaryBeth?”
“Yeah, thanks. Great class.”
“You just seemed so frantic tonight.”
“I thought I did good.”
She laughed. “Yoga is not about doing good, or reaching perfection. It’s about harmony and balance, and finding our place in the universe. You’re not graded on your performance. It’s about achieving personal growth, enlightenment. Judging others only serves to harm yourself.
That hurt, because I knew she was right.
Her eyebrows arched. “Namaste,” she said hands folded. As I repeated it back to her, she recited, “the peace in me honors the peace in you.”
I went out of the room to get my purse and to pull on my sweatshirt. A couple of people from the class were waiting and high-fived me. “You won,” Jef One-f told me. “Righteous.”
“Kavya was pissed,” Anna added. “No one ever out-does her.”
Even I-Can-Do-The-Splits-Lady smiled at me on her way out.
I shrugged my shoulders.
Floating like a saint who didn’t need to bend her knees when she walked, Dobby came out into the hall, putting an end to any trash talk with the mere sweetness of her smile.
“I’ll be taking my hollow victory and heading home, then, Dobby.”
Stay tuned for part seven...