Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Namaste and an eyeful of bike shorts

When I was a wee newlywed girl living in the West Hills of Pittsburgh, I decided to take a yoga class. I'd been doing yoga for five years or so. I started with a VHS tape and thought I'd mastered the basic poses.

I passed a yoga studio each day on my way to work. It was above a pizza shop. They offered unlimited classes for the first two months. It cost $60.

I bought a spiffy yoga outfit from Costco and a Reebok yoga mat. I took my shoes off and stowed them away. I tried hard to keep my mind open and empty.

The classes that best aligned with my schedule where taught by a woman who'd changed her name to Yamuna. I don't know what her name used to be, maybe Beth or Audrey, but after several years hiking through India she decided her old name was no good. The studio had a shrine built to her dear departed idol that was like a god, but not the god of the religion that she practiced. I didn't particularly understand, but we weren't allowed to point the soles of our feet at him, whoever he was.

A few weeks in, my slow brain finally processed it all. Yamuna was a Hare Krishna. She began talking about the Krishna consciousness and playing chants at the end of class. Hare, Hare, Hareeeeee....

I've never been able to hide my emotions. My face must have been all kinds of contorted at each mention of old Hare Krishna. I pictured people selling flowers to tourists in foreign airports. Were those Hare Krishna's? I didn't really know.

Yamuna couldn't stand the smell of pepperoni pizza that wafted into her studio from the shop below. She countered it with more incense than I've ever encountered in my life. It was a rather distracting combination.

I got the feeling that Yamuna didn't like me or my lousy approximation of downward facing dog. But I wanted a yoga body and I'd sunk $60 into this venture. I kept going back.

One Saturday morning I found that instead of Yamuna, her life partner Bob was teaching class. Yamuna and Bob had been mated to each other in some manner in India. Somehow it was still okay to call him Bob after this revelation.

Bob was wearing a pair of short bike pants and a skin tight shirt. I quickly realized that he was very touchy. He was one of those chaps that will stand right next to you and stroke your arm in a slightly inappropriate manner, all the while talking like nothing is happening.

This is me at about the time I encountered Bob's bike shorts.
Apparently, I had lots of time back then to overpluck my eyebrows.
After class, Bob approached me and asked how I was liking yoga. I was liking it fine, but I wondered aloud if there was some particular stretch that could help me with a pain I was having in my side, just under my ribs.

Bob swept into action. In no time he'd assembled a yoga ball and instructed me to lay down on it on my back. Before I knew what was happening, I was at eye level with the thin layer of spandex separating little Bob from the outside world.

I began to squirm.

"Just relax," Bob instructed.
"I think it feels better already," I offered.

I couldn't sit up, lest my face would meet Bob's junk in a more personal way. I allowed myself to be rolled around on a yoga ball with my eyes squished shut until Bob decided I'd had enough. Finally, it was over and I went home to my husband.

I went to Yamuna's class a few more times after that. She eventually got rid of me by instructing the class to do some couple's moves that I wasn't comfortable with. I'd like to think that I walked out in the middle of that class, but I'm sure I didn't. I've never been cool enough to make much of a statement.

It took about a decade for me to try another yoga class. This one happened in the basement of my church, the classes cost $5 each, and the instructor was a woman called Bobbi. It was fine. I confirmed that I am not permanently scarred from my encounter with yoga Bob.

Still, I think there is something to be said for yoga instruction given through my TV. And I don't like spandex. On anybody. For any reason.