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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.

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Barbarella Fokos Aug. 23, 2008 @ 2:42 p.m.

Jim, you know that putting the # where the "i" should be isn't fooling anyone who knows how to read, right? It just looks like a fancy italic "i." If you truly want to curse without using a dirty word, every letter needs to be a symbol, like they do in cartoons: #@&#! I'm happy you liked the line! It made me giggle when I typed it. :)


Ollie Aug. 22, 2008 @ 7:14 a.m.

"The instructor was a man, which I found surprising until I reminded myself that yoga wasn’t just a chick thing."

No. You were right the first time.


jim87vette Aug. 22, 2008 @ 9:34 a.m.

All Zen and Sh#t,I love that line lol!I tried a few years back to become a human pretzel but it was very painful ouch.I find a good book and a couch or an outdoor peaceful place works for me just fine thank you.Enjoy your next class pretzel girl and get all zen and sh#t for me lol. Hey it lets you write sh#t but I can't lol.


jack Aug. 25, 2008 @ 6:10 p.m.

I took that guys class a few times. It was like learning yoga from Jim Morrison of the Doors. Good class but my wife couldn't stop staring at his ass. Now we go to a woman and I get to stare at her ass. Why are yoga people so hot? Why can't it rub off on me?


Barbarella Fokos Aug. 26, 2008 @ 2:10 p.m.

Jim Morrison is a good comparison, Jack. And I don't blame your wife, Robert has an enviable physique. That doesn't just rub off -- it took him at least 10 years of dedicated practice to get to where he is. I don't think I've done anything for 10 years. Wait, I take that back. I've always read and written daily. But anything else? Aside from eating, drinking, talking, and sleeping? Nope. Won't stop me from trying, though. ;)


sarahlayne Aug. 26, 2008 @ 9:11 p.m.

I am so glad when people pick up yoga! And you're going to the same studio I go to, yay! There are some really amazing teachers there. I was not super physically fit before I started yoga (nor particularly flexible) and now I am one of the most fit people and THE MOST flexible person I know. Maybe I'll see you when you get into some more advanced classes!


MsGrant Aug. 27, 2008 @ 10:27 a.m.

Yoga is great for helping to control those freak-out moments in our lives - you know the ones? I need to get my butt back to my yogo class and your column inspired me. That aside, your column does just get better and better. I am taking a creative writing class from your co-author, Thomas Larson (great teacher!), and I use your column as part of my required reading. I can only hope to write as well.


Barbarella Fokos Aug. 27, 2008 @ 9:21 p.m.

That's inspiring to hear, Sarah! I hope to be as fit and flexible as you some day, and maybe I'll run into you at Ginseng! Best, Barbarella


Barbarella Fokos Aug. 27, 2008 @ 9:23 p.m.

MsGrant, what an amazing compliment you pay me! It is the most rewarding thing for a writer to think her words can inspire another, and I'm happy to know that you enjoy my work. I hope you are enjoying Larson's class, and I'm honored to be part of the curriculum! Best, Barb


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