Last night, as I am prone to do on Wednesdays, I went to yoga. As I am also prone to do, I immediately dumped a pile of my stuff in my favourite place on the floor and went to ditch my shoes in a corner. When I returned, there was a woman in my spot. A woman wearing SLACKS and LOAFERS. AND A TURTLENECK UNDER A GAILY-STRIPED WOOLLEN SWEATER.
“Okay,” I thought, rather charitably. “Maybe she’s not staying. Can you audit yoga?”
No, my friends, you cannot audit yoga.
This lady, in her slacks and her pink-and-blue sweater (I’m sounding SO American right now. Kiwis, what are my culturally-preferred terms here? Her jersey and Nana-casual Kumfs? Her trousers and skivvy?), spent the whole class alternately clambering around on all fours and crouched at my ankle, talking to herself. “Oooh,” she’d mutter, as she staggered around behind me. “Hard! Now, where do I–?”
I’m in down dog, thinking BREATHE THROUGH THE RAGE. SWAN THE SHIT OUT OF THIS POSE AND MAYBE SHE’LL GO AWAY! PRETEND THIS IS NOT HAPPENING! And then I’d hear, from somewhere under my left knee, “OOF!” and my be-sweatered friend would hit the floor, roll onto her back, and wave her Nana-casual feet in the air.
In case I need to clarify, THIS IS SOMEWHAT OFF-PUTTING.
Yoga is for several things, but primarily the preservation of my mental health. As I am secretly morphing into a massive tree-hugging, meditating, cling film-washing, anti sodium lauryl sulphate-using earth mother-type, I’m all about the mood when it comes to my yoga. I’m all over connection and energy and feeling the room. Thinking about face-punching is therefore counter to the vibe I’m trying to cultivate.
I attempted to rise above, you guys. I tried with all of my shrivelled heart to let her go about her business (Oof! “Oh no, I don’t think… no, no, that will never work. Silly.” Unffffff, stomp. Sigh. “Now, up we get…”) while I went about mine. After all, yoga is supposed to be about intention and breathing as much as, like, actually doing things, right? Maybe her intention was to arbitrarily stand up and sit down again for an hour. Maybe she was breathing from her ribs and energising from her core as she stood, immobile, breathing heavily on my neck IN MOTHERFUCKING LOAFERS AND A TURTLENECK.
After the four-hundredth time she ended up hunched on all fours under my pose like I was about to give her a pony ride, I decided that she obviously wasn’t all there mentally, and I should just accept that her nose was poking me in the butt and move on. She was interpreting the spirit of the class in her own way, and I was being an asshole in judging her for it.
So I sucked it up as she crept ever closer to my prone form, amiably peppering me with staccato half-sentences. And I got progressively more and more annoyed, and more and more upset at my own annoyance. I couldn’t let this poor disabled lady do yoga in her own way? Was I that much of a bitch? By the time we got to the relaxation track, it was all I could think about. I lay there, vibrating like a high-tension wire with every cough or rustle of slacks, un-relaxed. Convinced of my own awfulness. Utterly and completely miserable.
Class finally finished, and I staggered off to lace up my sneakers and cry myself to sleep. My new friend, in her sensible leather shoes and her heavy winter jersey, headed across the room to the instructor… where she proceeded to hold a PERFECTLY NORMAL CONVERSATION WITH HIM, like spending an hour dressed for Sunday lunch while conversing with thin air is everyday exercise etiquette. Like she hadn’t, at various points, been trying to use my poses as a tent. Like her face and my butt weren’t now intimately acquainted and I wasn’t quivering, wrecked, in the corner, hating myself and jumping at shadows.
You guys, I have a Keep Cup and a monthly donation to WSPA. I cry during Disney movies and episodes of One Tree Hill. I try really hard to be open-minded and live positively. I like to think I’m a relatively good person.
But if I see that lady again, I’m going to PUNCH HER IN THE LIVER. Fair warning.