Sunday, November 27, 2005

Crappy at Yoga

I've been doing yoga since 1985. That's 20 years, and I never get better. I'm the one who everyone gets to know all-too-quickly, as in "Serena, shift your torso to be in line with your hips" and "Serena, straighten your leg" and "Serena, don't rest on your hands, lift from your fingertips". Last year the hatha teacher kept me after class. She had me planking and cobraing and down-dogging repeatedly, and she emanated annoyed disbelief at my refusal to demonstrate progress. I said, "It's not your fault. I've been doing yoga badly since the '80s." She didn't believe me. I'm sure she thought she could be the one to finally straighten me out. It didn't happen. I just got flagged a yoga failure again today.

I went to Yoga Shala ( on Alberta Street. I've been doing the mama and baby yoga class and I'm happy to report that my baby has also been flunking yoga. She gets carried by the teacher's assitant "baby carrier" for much of the class in an attempt to quell her screams. Do you know of this phenomenon? I wonder if it's just a Portland thing. Someone offers to cart your baby around the room while you try to do some yoga badly. It's a great thing.

Today was liberating because Steve agreed to watch Genevieve while I went to a baby-free yoga class. This was my first time truly away from her since she was born, and I was very excited. The class was lovely, with some other people not-so-good at yoga.

I was elated to be there. And there was a moment where a memory of my sister Jenny came back to me. I had convinced her to try yoga with me. We would go together. She never wanted to take off her socks, but then she would slide all around. Here I was at Yoga Shala, almost two years later, doing warrior two, and I could see her in her thick hiking socks. I thought, my outstretched hand is touching yours right now, Jenny. The Pacific Ocean has your ashes, but you're everywhere, you're in the atmosphere, the water cycle, the breeze. Your essence is there, however dispersed.

I felt a hand on mine. For a nanosecond, it was too real. Jenny was gripping my fingers of the hand I had stretched behind me. I turned. It was the teacher, adjusting me. I'm just crappy at yoga.

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