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Sunday, January 26, 2014

We All Have to Start Somewhere: My First Class


         My oldest sister Genevieve took me to my first ever yoga class.  I was seventeen and visiting her in NYC from our hometown in Tennessee.  I loved New York;  I brought my enthusiasm, my baby fat, and a very questionable wardrobe.  We went to the original Jivamukti Yoga School back when it was just south of Astor Place.  This class was the single most intimidating, sweaty, and exciting experience I had had to date……I was a virgin.  I did my best to keep up, but I was very overwhelmed.  The crowd was so impressive.  All the men looked like Jesus; the women like Gwenyth Paltrow, and Russell Simmons was on the mat right next to mine.  I didn't know who he was at the time; I had never heard of Phat Farm Clothing or his classy wife Kimora Lee. 

The teacher’s name was Ruth.  She still teaches at Jivamukti, and she is beloved.  Ruth is funny, sincere, open with her life, and very closely resembles Olive Oil from the Popeye cartoon.  We were holding Utthita Parsvakonasana or extended side angle.  At the time, I had no idea what position I was in.  I probably would have named it sweat-in-my-eyeball, I think-I’m-gonna poop-ana.  Ruth quit walking around the room, stood next to me, and did not move.  Oh my God; I suck so bad she won't leave my side.  She crouched down by my beet red face and said  “I’m not going to move until you start breathing.”  Oh right, breathe.  How could I forget?  The class got progressively better with the addition of oxygen.  I remembered to breathe and didn’t die.  I even started to think for a moment that I could be good at this.  Then Ruth asked us to come into Salamba Sarvangasana or Shoulderstand.  It’s a humbling moment when you throw your legs behind your head and your belly smashes into your face and you fear you may suffocate.  I shakily extended my legs toward the ceiling and I found it.  Wow. This feels awesome.  I am amazing.  And then I farted.  Russel Simmons heard it.  

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