Yoga means union

Yoga is one of those disciplines where the culture around it is silly - in that vaguely uncomfortable way where they’re aiming hard at middle-aged women with money to burn - but the “way” of it is fairly powerful and life-changing. It’s why, even though there’s a lot of yoga-related bullshit in the world (hurt your ears with MC Yogi), I still make a point to do it. I even got my guy into it, too. When he started, his feet were so flat that he walked like a cowboy and once, when we were on a singing beach, where sand merrily cries after you step in it - the sand did not sing for him, since he didn’t displace it at all. Now he has a faint trace of an arch.

For me, if I don’t go to yoga classes, I am much more likely to be wrought with anxiety*. But the semi-regular yoga class means that my lows are less low. That said, the quality of the yoga class counts. Since yoga has exploded, it’s easy to find a class, but finding a good, true teacher with the right training and manner, is much harder. I’ve taken classes in a variety of cities and it really depends on the situation.

New York City classes have erred on the side of “flow,” (at least the ones I could afford) with lots of yoga babes, tanned and ready to step on you for the best spot in the room, doing impossible positions in classes of 50 where it seems like they’re just powering through with muscle strength. The one class I took at Yoga For the People seemed innocuous enough, but then we started and everyone in the class started in with these sex moans and I literally couldn’t hold a position. I had to go into child’s pose where I giggled like a ten-year-old. There was another class where the women waiting formed a rugby-like scrum to get in the room, and Terry Richardson showed up. Then there’s the real risk of finding a teacher who just got certified along with other aerobic skills at the Y. (That sort of teacher is everywhere.)

It’s why, when I’ve come across particular yoga styles that require a lot of training, the classes have been generally reliable. And the teachers have erred on the side of extraordinary. But lately, my favorite teacher, something’s been off about her classes. They’re overstuffed with people. She makes students go into poses that are too hard, and their muscles convulse while she tries to explain it for the room. Her explanations have eight separate movements instead of a do-able five. The vibe of the people, previously a frosty New England hippie vibe (I’ve been there for a year and people still barely talk to me), has changed into rough and ready yoga babes, bending and practicing with an air of competitiveness. There were also yoga dudes who looked like they enjoy terrible music and even worse goatees. And the non-relationship you have with a yoga teacher gives you just enough information that it’s easy to speculate on the “why.”

For example: is there a breakup? Is she mad at the studio for depending too much on her and overstuffing her classes? Have the yoga overlords of her practice decided that she’s a yoga rock star instructor in training? Is she going to leave and start her own studio? Am I the problem, or is she truly sloppy lately? There are so many factors that can come into play. I can’t tell whether this is the malaise of a couple of weeks or a sign that I should probably try a new teacher. It is kind of a bummer, though, because it’s hard to find a yoga class that has that particular, magical, healing alchemy, even though it’s quite easy to find a yoga class.

* Imagine dealing with a super-obscure health-related situation where your genetic counselor recommends a therapist who only deals with people who also have your super-obscure health situation. And she just switched to a private ($$$) practice. Crushingly anxious.

Choose your own adventure

You are at a pretty cool coffeeshop in Western Massachusetts, getting ready for an awesome day of working, reading, and writing. It’s very crowded and who’s sitting next to you? Kim and Thurston. Whoa, dude, cool. You can eavesdrop on them all day long! Kim is such a babe and totally dressed better than any other girl there! They have secrets that you should learn - like, how to be totally swoonily in love and partnered and only have eyes for the other awesome person on your art team. Life lessons. Today is going to rule!

You reach into your bag for your wallet - nothing. You have managed to drive two hours, emptying out the gas tank, and you have no cash or credit to get through your day. What do you do?

A) Call your family and try to get them to give you their credit card numbers over the phone.

B) Tell Kim and Thurston your predicament. They’re cool. They’ll understand. After all, you’re pretty close to having a panic attack in front of them and they can sense your worry. You could also justify your need for, like, a ten so you can get some gas and get home by saying “yo, I’ve bought a lot of Sonic Youth albums in my life!”

C) Go to your yoga studio and see if they will gladly spare you $15. Flap your arms around trying to convince people that you are not crazy, not a miscreant, and do take yoga there nearly semi-weekly; just not at that class.

I thought about A) but C) was the one that ended up working out. I thought really hard about B) but decided against it, even though it would probably make the weirdest/best story. The lesson of the story? Even though I’ve been doing yoga at that place for nearly a year, and really enjoy it quite a bit, there’s something about it that doesn’t, on the daily, feel like a community. But in an emergency like that, I was part of a community. And I ended up going to a yoga class there the next day.

Muddled, Complicated Feelings

I had a big post in my head. About friendships and connection and all those things, but luckily, these feelings are just swooping out and I’m far calmer than I have been for the past few days. But, to wit:

Have you ever been snubbed? Like straight up, oh, this puts whole years of my life into question because apparently my friendship isn’t valued enough snubbed? It conjures up all these ugly feelings - like, am I a jerk? Do people hate me? What did I do or is it just a careless snub? Are we even friends anymore? (To be honest, it’s probably a careless snub but it just validates some anger I have from…oh, you know, not being able to get a job where I lived for a certain amount of time.)

I know for me, when it comes to friendship, if I decide that you’re my friend, I would do anything (ethically and legally good) for you. In general. But I think that I’m not necessarily so great at showing, per se, that I care about people who I consider my friends beyond a select few. Do I blame some of this on having four siblings who traveled in and out of my life as a kid? A little bit. Things like that have aftershocks - you may not know the issues you’re getting at the time, you just know that your feelings are hurt and you’re cautious as a result. Even when you’re older and over it and have pretty decent relationships with your siblings that will, hopefully, just improve as you get into the same life bracket.

It sucks, though, because I do remember a halcyon era of having a straight up “crew,” and ever since I’ve moved, that crew has become diffuse; and even though, in my head, I’ve considered them close friends - when you’re crying on someone’s porch about your mother being sick, there is a certain level of trust - the truth is probably much more different.

I do think - there’s this imitation of closeness that you get with friends when you’ve moved or through the internet that just isn’t really the same.

My closest friend right now that I see every day - and I don’t count my partner in this situation, because that’s simply unsexy - is our car. And since we’re hoping to sell it, I can’t take it anywhere outside of where we live right now. I don’t particularly like where we live right now - I like the proximity, but I’ve been the asshole adding mileage to it so I can deal with living where I live. It sucks. I’m sad that I can’t take the car out myself and generally mad about the situation. There’s a fair amount of self-loathing there too. For me, the car is freedom. But I’m trying to be a grownup about it and patient for a month.

I miss living somewhere where there’s a palpable sense of community. I went to Montreal last week and would basically move there in a second - on St. Viateur, there are two lovely coffee places, Cafe Social and Cafe Olympico, and every morning, the porches have friends and neighbors sitting together, enjoying coffee, and chatting. I don’t know where that place is these days. It is not anywhere near my house, I know that.

Other ugly feelings include the whole Olivia Munn/The Daily Show/Jezebel thing. Because talking about it, one can’t not sound like an asshole, or resentful of the fact that Olivia Munn is pretty. In some ways, I think Olivia Munn being on The Daily Show isn’t too different from James Franco’s running around in the worlds of art, literature, and films. On one hand, it’s like, good for these guys. That sounds fun. And on the other hand, it’s like, gosh, these pretty people are really getting carte blanche to tread on dreams, huh? They don’t seem that talented, and there’s a limited number of slots! And a recession! What’s up with that? James Franco, in particular, is like a performance art referendum on the supposed “egalitarian merit” of systems like academia and literature.

And the gender divide in the creative areas of showbiz is depressing enough, and should be talked about (my theory is that a study on the amount of female directors in doc vs. features would be QUITE REVEALING - partially due to the way these are funded), but Jezebel using the fact that Munn hasn’t gone up through the improv ranks as an excuse to despair on the lame stuff she’s done…it negates the (quite fair) argument, really. But when are women not following comedy? In boys club college improv groups? UCB? Where’s the roots of all this? And who’s starting the Old Girls Club that needs to exist?

I’m looking forward to the point where I can feel less threatened and biting regarding these sort of things. I’m in the middle of taking a leap, career-wise, I’m in mid-air, and it’s so easy to feel overly bitter - feeling bitter is so gross - when reading these things. But I gotta do me, and figure out there’s a downy mattress waiting for me when I land. It’s just not there right this second. I think my yoga class today will be amazing.