Strangers, Strangeness and Addiction

I practice yoga three times per week. When I told a close friend I had been doing this, she sort of cocked her head at me as if to say, “you gettin’ strange on me?” I explained that I found the classes exhilarating and that the impact on my runs had been tremendously positive. Besides, I’ve been strange a long time according to my closest pals. I guess I’m also easily addicted because I crave yoga now and have the weekly class schedule memorized. Who knew that by relaxing your jaw and just letting your arms dangle that you can find long moments of mental stillness and core strength? I had no idea how vulnerable I could feel until a simple pose, like the Camel, left me more breathless than most hard runs. In that pose all you do is sit up on your knees and grab your heels behind you – it sounds so simple but it often challenges me not to panic. I have to breathe through it and resist the urge to get out of the pose immediately.  I now use breathing as a simple but effective calming, relaxing and centering tool.

On Christmas Eve, as I drove to the last class offered that day, I allowed myself to gloat a moment on my motivation  – going to yoga when I could be deep into my first glass of Christmas Eve champagne. My heart sank as I pulled into the parking lot only to see two other cars there – a small class is great, no class and I might just cry. I had checked the website and there was no mention of a cancellation. I was sure I had heard that the 4:30 class was on. Door locked, cleaning crew and me in the hall – this did not bode well.  I took a deep breath and decided to see the glass as half full and not pout, literally: guess I’ll have to go home and have some bubbly.

As I turned to leave, I almost bumped into a woman coming down the hall. Her face dropped when I told her the door was locked. We chatted a few minutes, hoping that a teacher would show up. ‘V’ had started doing yoga a few months ago and has been thrilled with the weight loss and increased energy. She is a single mom of 5 kids ranging in age from 3-16. She is a librarian who attends the Tuesday and Thursday 5:00 am class so she can be home in time to get her kids off to school. There I was again, in the company of a hero. Her eyes danced as she talked about how loose her pants had become and how her confidence increased with every class. She, too, was an addict.

We agreed that no teacher was going to show up and headed down the hall to the stairs and into the parking lot. As I headed to my car I turned and said, “Wouldn’t it have been cool if we’d just done yoga in the hallway?”

 ‘V’ froze and, nodding enthusiastically, turned back towards the door. “Let’s do it!”

I have never asked a janitorial staff if there was a better side of the hall to stay on so that I would not be in their way while doing yoga in an empty building on Christmas Eve – there is a first time for everything! They were cool with us staying on the right side, so we set up our mats and got to it. I started us off with several sun salutations and then we went through the 26 poses covered in Bikram classes. Unlike me, ‘V’ had them memorized so fluently she could list the next two in a row without hesitation. The hum of the vacuum cleaner down the hall lulled us into a rhythm and no other thoughts came to me until the elevator door dinged and a custodian pushed one of those large trash cans on wheels out around the corner and down the hall. He did not seem to find our yoga-ing strange at all, but instead smiled and wished us a Merry Christmas.

Forty-five minutes later, we were doing shoulder stands and beaming at our strange experience. I thought about the fact that I was NOT going to blog about this – people will think I’m strange doing yoga in an empty building on Christmas Eve with a stranger. ‘V’ and I rolled up our mats and went back to the parking lot to leave, for real this time. 

“That was great!” said ‘V”.

‘Yep, it sure was. My name is Becky and I’m a yoga-holic. Welcome to YA (Yogis Anonymous), ‘V’, I smiled back.

– Becky Sharpe, President & CEO

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