8 Million Stories: Yoga To (Most Of) The People

Written by Marian Lorraine on . Posted in 8 Million Stories, Posts.

When you’re a bartender in the city and even your wildest friends start lifting their eyebrows at your behavior, you know it’s time for a priority shift.

My friend Pinky and I stopped drinking around the same time, after an epic weekend that spanned Valentine’s Day (which was spent with a bottle of Jameson’s in a closed-down bar) and Mardi Gras (a party that lasted beyond the morning hours). I don’t know how Pinky spent her Valentine’s Day, but the upshot was the same. We had to cut it out. At least for a bit. Not that we wanted to.

“Imagine how much money we’re going to save!” said Pinky, which led to a discussion about clothes, shoes and handbags. “Just think how much sleep we’re going to get,” I rhapsodized, and we talked about the beautifying benefits of sleeping, especially in one’s own bed and pajamas, after having removed both makeup and contact lenses. All seven nights a week. “Getting up early!” she mused. “Going to museums!” I squealed. We were excited about our fresh take on life.

At brunch we tried to dismiss the cocktail menu. “You know what’s good? Bloody Marias, with nice tequila,” I couldn’t help noting right after I ordered a grapefruit juice. Pinky pulled me out of waxing sentimental by ticking off the celebrities at her last AA meeting. She told me with relish which ones are attention whores. Being sober is fun and easy, I lied to myself. Though I could never go to an AA meeting again; it’s too much like being at a dive bar with no alcohol, no jukebox and no darts, and believe me that’s no place you want to be—with or without celebrities.

Though it goes against everything else in my life, I decided to try yoga. I smoke a lot of cigarettes. I like beer, Kraft macaroni and cheese and donuts. Yoga seemed to me something young white people adopted and just look ridiculous doing—something culturally and spiritually meaningful which, when taken out of context, just looks terrible. Like wearing rosaries around one’s neck, or riding a Vespa anywhere but in Italy. Or camouflage fashion.

Yoga To The People is located in the middle of the block on St. Marks Place between Second and Third avenues. I snuck in though the residential door three minutes before class. There are three floors of classes, and if you’re running as late as I was, maniacally smiling, ridiculously goodlooking people in sweats shoo you up to the third floor. There you can place your shoes on a rack and toss a few bucks into the Kleenex box by the door.

I could never go to an AA meeting again; it’s too much like being at a
dive bar with no alcohol, no jukebox and no darts.

The instructor, who looked like the reincarnation of a French movie star or maybe a snow leopard, gently prowled the room in bare, manicured feet and cast his dark eyes on our efforts as he guided us through a 60-minute set of stretching, twisting, balancing and groaning.

I started the set by kicking the guy in back of me in the head as I tried for what is called a forward warrior. I kept my eyes on the girl ahead and to my right, who seemed to be something of a master. She flowed through every instruction with grace while I stumbled after her, looking forward to going back to what’s called the child’s pose—just sort of curled up on the ground. I’d be fine just staying like that for an hour, so I could laugh silently to myself when the instructor said, “Lead with your heart.” If I let my heart lead, I thought, we would be in a bar right now. The guy in back of me groaned as if he was giving birth to twins.

My grade school giggles were quickly silenced as we were guided through a complicated pose that had me holding hands with myself through bent legs. The girl in front of me managed to do this and look like an off-duty ballerina. I looked like a mental patient. This was supposed to make me feel better? It did not. I’d have preferred a Heineken. C