Got a text from Larry, my neighbor, last night at 10:49.
Larry: YOGA TOMORROW MORNING … 9 AM CLASS. U IN?
Me: HOW LONG IS THE CLASS? AND WHERE?
Larry: 90 MINUTES. IN PELHAM.
Me: AND HOW MUCH $?
Between that text and my next one, roughly 15 minutes passed. I’ve talked about yoga for a long time, but sorta in the same way one talks about backpacking Kenya without a guide. It seems adventurous and, perhaps, fun and worthy, but, well, uh … who really wants to do it?
“Do it,” the wife said.
“Yes! Try it!”
Me: OK, I’M IN.
Larry: COOL. I’LL PICK YOU UP AT 8:40.
And he did.
We arrived at Radiate Yoga, a lovely studio the size of, oh, a large living room. I immediately recognized a few people—Janet, Debbie. People in shape. People who have done yoga for a long time. “Crap,” I thought. “This is gonna be humiliating.”
It got worse.
“This is your first time?” Janet asked.
“Do you know some of the poses?”
I entered the room, thoughts of high school humiliation running through my head. Asking Michele Sheehan to the prom and being rejected. Dancing awkwardly in front of classmates. Jeff Kramer bashing my binder. There were about 15 people—all (I’m guessing) yoga veterans. Larry handed me a mat, nodded to the front and said, “Just watch Debbie. She knows what she’s doing.”
Our instructor was a woman named Lisa Stiefvater, the owner of the business. This isn’t just yoga blathering, but Lisa was incredibly soothing. Soft voice, very encouraging, walked and talked with a measured calmness. We began by stretching. Easy at first. Then harder. We advanced toward certain positions, all paired with names I can’t remember. The sweat began to trickle. My muscles began to ache. The longer we held in place, the more my arms quivered. This was hard. Really hard. But, equally, awesome. I loved the unity of the room; I loved how nobody (save for Lisa) cared what I was doing, or what route I took. There was zero sense of competition; zero desire to show off (a la pick-up hoops). It was entirely about exercise and control and inner-self.
Anyhow, long story short: I dug it.
And I’ll certainly be back.