I’m kind of banking on a phoenix-birthing renaissance in 2017, especially after the landfill inferno that was mine and this nation’s year in 2016.
I went home to California for Christmas break with one objective in mind: heal…and bum off my sisters. I pulled out all my workout gear from under the bed, untouched for over a year now and covered in what can only be described as time’s dandruff, dusted them off, and threw them in my suitcase. Then I set sail for the land of zero fucks, 60-degree winters and Amanda Chantal Bacon.
For two weeks, I practiced yoga-for-the-fragile, drank through my sister’s wine fridge, ate through my other sister’s fridge fridge, and tried to force my two-year-old niece to love me. I drove everywhere; I didn’t read or watch the news; I ate home-cooked meals that I didn’t myself prepare; I caught up on Love & Hip Hop Season 7; I battled OC housewives for toys at Target; I watched Frozen 6,987 times a day with my niece; and I just. didn’t. give a damn. about anything. All my focus was on where I was broken.
According to my male gymnast yoga instructor, I was broken in many places.
In one “healing yoga” class, as I was lying on a bolster pillow stretched lengthwise along my mat, I felt a disturbance in the force. Someone’s putrid feet were now clamped on either side of my hips like bookends. A whisper: “Sorry, I’m nitpicky.” I opened my eyes, and lo, there was a man in his mid- to late-thirties wearing a headband and a sleeveless tank top standing over me. “Do you think you’re straight?” Oh my God, Karen, you can’t just ask people if they’re straight.
“No, I have a rotated right hip.”
“I can see that. Let’s try to get this shoulder down, shall we?” He rotated my left shoulder outwardly and gently pushed it to the mat.
*the sound of snapping branches*
“Okayyyyy that was loud.”
Half an hour later, I had a strap around the ball of my right foot, pulling my right leg up toward the ceiling to be as perpendicular to the floor as possible. A looming shadow. “You have to find that balance between pushing too hard and not pushing hard enough.” At this point, the furthest my leg could go was a 45 to 50-degree angle. Nobody’s perfect, asshole, just move along.
And this is why I’m competitive at yoga. You say you’re not shaming me and everyone’s practice is different and it’s a discipline, not a competition blah blah blah, but how you gon’ judge the tightness of my hamstrings? I haul ass and lady humps around a city of nine million people every day.
By that point in the class I had lost all “intention” and my already battered chakras finally shattered under my humiliation like chards of saltine crackers at the bottom of a bag. I didn’t come here to be judged. I came here to find inner peace after the Republic conceded democracy to Cheetoh fascism and to people who don’t believe in climate change. Meanwhile, to my left, there’s a well-seasoned white woman in the shape of a pretzel, with flowers on her stretchy pants and some affirmation printed on her mat, something to the effect of “beauty is pain, so sweat it out, girlfriend!”
“Now exhale through your mouth with a deep ahhhhh.”
Everyone in the room sounds like they’re saying, JAFAAAAAAAAAAR.
“As you leave this room, carry the intention you’ve cultivated into the chaotic outside world. Remember the word that guided you through your practice today: peace. Love. Authenticity. Namaste.”
In unison: “Namaste.”
None of us knows what that means.