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.