Once upon a time, two yoga students walked into a yoga studio to take my yoga class. Let’s call student A ‘Yang’ and student B ‘Yin.’
Yang asked, “Can I get a free class? I just want to test this out.” I’d have liked to holla back with, “Can I drive your car around for an hour? Just wanna test it out. No? How about your girlfriend? Can I sweat all over her for 90 hot minutes? Y’know, just to see how it goes. You can have her back.” Trickin’ ain’t easy, but I didn’t want to get fired, so I got out of the way to let a more qualified, less salty person handle the transaction.
Yin, having signed up online, arrived early and set up her Manduka quietly. Yang rolled in two minutes after class had begun and hurled down her 10 pound lululemon mat with a thud-shu-shu-shu-shu-flop.
Bless her heart, Yin did not move or notice the latecomer. She was workin’ her ujjayi breath and zooming in on her drishti like a boss. Yang unscrewed her plastic water bottle and sprinked it all over her towel (I too like the sprinkle method, I am sheepish to admit). She splashed Yin, who jumped. “Sorry, otherwise I slip,” Yang said to a bewildered and damp Yin. Yin settled back into child’s pose, leaning ever so slightly, away from Yang, who was scraping her hair in to a wild ass ponytail on top of her head.
Yin, with Jedi focus and strength, moved through sun salutations with the rest of the class, modifying poses according to her ability, experience, and comfort level. Yang inserted five wackdoodle pushups between each chaturanga (high to low plank) and had no energy to complete crescent series. She thunked down with a sigh and wrangled her legs into full lotus. Sure, this is the right time to meditate, if you lived on Pluto. All the same, I give her props, because my own oddly shaped legs will never achieve that echelon of pretzeldom.
Moments later, the class was breathing through camel pose. Back bends can transform you. They can take you to places booze and red meat can’t touch. Beautiful breakthroughs happen in heart-opening poses. Emotions are released. Yin relished the moment like a BAMF (you know, Bad Ass Mother F*cker). She smiled. She was on a safari. She exhaled. All was calm. Until Yang’s cell phone blew up Soulja Boy, Crank That. Nice, turkey—I say this with love.
Yang fiddled with her mobile device while everyone else settled into half pigeon. Time to roost and rest. But not for Yang. She tossed her phone on top of her huge Coach purse next to the Camel Lights, and wobbled through a frantic set of bicycle crunches. She counted them out in a loud whisper, “1,2,3,4, 2,2,3,4, 3,2,3,4,” and so on.
I do not understand why exercise bunnies come to yoga class only to ignore my carefully planned yoga sequence. But when they do, the pungent aromas of fake bake and orange bronzer take over the studio, reminding me of playing around the chicken coop behind my childhood home in rural northeast, WI. The two smells are the same to my nose.
Not to say I don’t welcome gym-dweller folks to my class. I embrace them. I only wish they wouldn’t knock out haphazard jumping jacks during yogi’s choice time. Dear yoga student in the star spangled fluorescent triathlon uniform, may I delicately request you resist the dozen heaving sit-ups while we are in seated meditation? The gasping, grunting imma have a bowel movement sound scares the regulars. Rocky Balboa still loves you, crazy-pants.
Practice drew to a close. We chanted Om. We wrapped it up. We all whispered Namaste to each other and bowed. Yin dropped back to savasana. Yang texted.
This really happened in my class last Sunday. When I peeped my messages after class, I had two Facebook notifications. One read: Yin Shanti (not her real name) likes your page. The other read: Yang Shakti (she wishes that were her real name) invited you to like her page “Yang Shakti—Professional Model and Yoga Instructor.” What the truck, universe? The second notification was sent at 59 minutes past the hour. That was during my class. Days like these keep my ego and my sanity in check.
I’ve been discovering and exploring yoga for about 10 years. I practice and take class nearly every day and teach about ten classes a week. I love yoga and love teaching. To be of service, to provide a serene space for yogis to heal, to calm, to strengthen and to laugh is what I want to do.
I’m thankful to learn rich lessons from all students, the Yins and the Yangs. I’m not a yoga snob. Hell no. There are some things y’all do that I find endearing and other things that I haven’t figured out yet. But I would never under any circumstances play that ringtone joint in my class. It would be the remix: