There are many things that constitute a yoga practice, and not all of them involve sweaty contortions.
Some of the things that constitute a yoga practice fall, as we say, off the mat.
Shall we consider Tuesday’s practice?
I don’t know if you are aware of this, but Minnesota can be a notoriously dry place. My hair, of course, having been certified a competent and reliable detector of humidity by the National Weather Service, warned me of this early Tuesday morning by flinging itself out in all directions in a crackling, static-charge display of wanton disrespect, screaming nonsense at passers-by: “Microwaveable meals are both quick and nutritious! Properly trained, your butt will expand to the size of the largest chair available!”
I had the warning. Yet I proceeded.
As a person whose train of thought enjoys spinning first this way, then that, yoga is what keeps me from hurling office chairs out of windows. Yoga is my sanctuary, a place of focused breathing and useful for getting as close to calm, pretty brain waves as possible.
It was with this in mind that I went to yoga, dropped two mats (one for me, one for Amy) only to return, 15 minutes later, to find that both mats had been moved and that another had been wedged between them.
These things happen in a crowded room.
But the mat between our mats left less than three inches on either side; and standing in the center of this mat, arms swinging wildly despite the 100-degree temperature of the room, was Jeff.
Have you met Jeff? He’s quite attractive in a Cesar Milan sort of way.
He also stands when others sit; tries to make eye contact, particularly when you are upside down; and smells like a cross between a hot wool blanket and, for some reason, salted sunflower seeds.
Frankly, I've smelled worse.
He is less than three inches from me. The walls are running wet with the tropics-imitating humidity of a room of 70 sweating people, and he’s trying to make eye contact.
And the groaning! Have I mentioned the groaning yet?
“Augh,” he moans as we hold plank position, our arms trembling, our monkey minds urging us to give up. “Auuuuuuuuuugh,” he groans.
“Ugh. Ugh. Ugh,” he grunts during boat pose.
We are in headstand when he starts to growl, and my mind starts to wail. “Ack! He’s three inches away and he’s growling! Sit down! Stop trying! Give up! It’s too hot! Why don’t you give up and concentrate on how agitated you are becoming?”
I do not, of course, listen to the chattering of my brain but close my eyes. My mind, against my will, forms a picture of a mostly-hairless biped throwing feces at my attempts to better myself.
I refuse to acknowledge my brain.
Due to the closeness of the mats, by the time class is over he has hit me twice with his arms, once with his feet, and has grunted his way – at least in my mind – through Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.
And so it goes.
My quest to defeat my monkey mind remains.
13 hours ago