We stretched in a variety of positions. Robert offered feedback as to what we were doing right and wrong, often with a demonstration that required him to remove an article of clothing — to illustrate what he meant by “pushing back the shoulders,” he lost his shirt; later, to display the correct placement of the hip during a lunge, his pants came off. I don’t know about Aaron, but the ladies seemed to appreciate the clarity of these visual explanations.
When Robert pointed to what looked like a neat pile of ponchos at one end of the room and invited us to grab three blankets each, all of the muscles I’d been working so hard to loosen clenched back up. The last thing a germaphobe such as me wants to do is climb beneath some skeezy blanket that is undoubtedly infested by the sweaty germs of incalculable yogis, many of whom probably skip showers in their efforts to save our natural resources. It took the greatest strength and concentration for me to handle the blankets. I almost yelped my relief when I realized we’d be lying atop, not under, the scratchy material. We folded and stacked them so that, like a beam, they would lift our backs from the ground. After Robert came by, pulled my shoulders down, and faced my palms to the ceiling, I was actually very comfortable.
“I’m happy this was a more informal class,” Janet said to me once we were outside. “I was worried you were going to make me laugh, and in the class I usually go to, everyone is much more reverent.”
“I can do reverent,” I said, even though I wasn’t entirely convinced I could.
“I like this class a lot,” said Rosa. While on the phone earlier, she’d told me that she didn’t like the chanting, spiritual mumbo-jumbo that she’d been forced to sit through during all the others.
“I don’t mind chanting, especially when I don’t understand the words,” I said. While driving the family from New York to California, my dad would play chants led by Gurumayi Chidvilasananda over and over on the tape deck in the VW camper. Thinking back on Dad’s Eastern spiritual exploits, it’s a wonder I hadn’t tried yoga sooner. “Those reverberations in your chest are like an internal massage,” I explained to Rosa. “Think the chair at Divine Nail Spa, but instead of massaging your back and legs, it massages your organs. Eh?” She seemed un-swayed.
I offered Janet’s mat back to her. “You’re welcome to keep it,” she said. “So you want to do this class again next Thursday?”
“I’m in,” I said, suppressing the voice in my head that balked at becoming one of those people I’ve always delighted in mocking — a SoCal chick with a goddamned yoga mat in the trunk of her car.