Friday, February 4, 2011


I used to think that I was chronically inflexible, but I'm not. It's just my legs. My hamstrings. Ham strings. What a funny term, anyway, for a part of your body. Ham Strings. I'd like to know who thought that up, and whether or not they were surprised when the term stuck.

It is because of these tightly wound hamstrings that I can't even touch my damn toes. And that yoga classes are a cause for suffering and self loathing, instead of the soothing soul balm the lady at the front desk promises me when I clank in out of the rain to the studio on Market St, in search of self-betterment and weight loss and enlightenment and everything else yoga is supposed to do for you. But it doesn't. Not for me, anyway. All sorts of anger and rage and thoughts of violence exude from my being when I can't do the friggin forward fold and everyone else is bent over with their foreheads on their mats. Even the old dudes. The competitive asshole inside of me dies a painful death, every time.

On top of that, let's get real, I can't afford no yoga class. It would be highly foolish of me to become invested yet in another activity that compromises the integrity of one's bank account, (especially when the waiting room of said activity is adorned with 65.00$ tank tops that whisper ones name so loudly one fears one will go deaf).  Add in the post traumatic stress syndrome I'm still wrestling with, and there's no question about it: I really can't take a yoga class. But, son of a bitch, how I yearn for that long, lean yoga body. Climbing makes one strong, no doubt. But yoga makes one slim. Sliiiimmmmm. I've never been slim. It looks like fun.

 One evening at a little dinner party, my friends and I cooked up a scheme to make yoga accessible 'for the rest us.' Bring us your poor, your inflexible, your inexperienced, your weak.  We decided to meet up one evening per week and teach ourselves. And we do, every Wednesday. We down/up dog it up for an hour, then we Om then we eat.  It started off a little clumsy; we tried tapes, podcasts and videos, they were confusing, then we realized that there were those amongst us who actually knew a thing our two about yoga, and they became the teachers. As we began to improve, more people heard about our Wednesday gatherings and started to join. In fact it became so popular we completely ran out of room.

 But we tried to accommodate. The more people you include in such things, the more connections you gain, the more food you get to eat, the more poses and styles you get to learn, and the more opportunities are presented to you.  Which is how, somehow, we ended up this past Wednesday in our own private studio.

The studio had gold wood floors and plenty of windows; it was well heated and gently lit, a refuge from an unusually clear and frigid evening. Outside the glass doors, a quarter acre of land, neatly segregated into separate and specific gardens, led to a gorgeous two level home filled with drawers of spices, shelves of books, rows of neatly stacked matching coffee cups, a chrome espresso machine, marble topped counters, balconies, sun porches, and a long ladder on which one could climb up through the skylight onto the sloping rooftop deck.

None of us live here, of course, but one of us just happens to be staying here right now.

On this particular Wednesday there were only five us, which was fortunate because the little room would not have fit anyone else. It was just girls, for the first time. (Girlfriends are both a staple and a luxury in life, don't you think?) We sure as hell felt like impostors in such a clean, beautiful little spot. We're all scraping and struggling for money and jobs and all that, digging through laundry piles on the floor to find a jacket to go with the dress for a date we hope works out better than the last, already twenty minutes late, scouring the help wanted and taking care of other people's children and then finding out we're going to have children of our own, and cleaning other people's houses then arguing with roommates because we don't have time to clean the dishes, climbing  up mountains because we can't afford lift tickets- and yet here we were, doing inversions in our private backyard yoga studio.

Sure we're impostors, we're tourists, we're just borrowing. But for now, it's all ours. And it's free.

It was a good reminder that sometimes, your scrappy efforts to be frugal, to it yourself, to pull it together and pull it off, can yield some actual success. We're poor, but we're creative. We might be inflexible as hell but we're resourceful, and I think that's what has gotten us this far. 


Katie said...

I want to do this!

elissa said...

your inability to fold is the universe's clever trick to humble you.