Yoga is one of the few constructive things in which I’ve routinely participated throughout the past sixteen years. At this point I’ve mostly given up going to studios because I’m broke and have discovered the world of online videos. (Shout out to Yoga with Adriene). But in all, I’ve pretzeled myself at about 20 different yoga venues, including the Capitol Hill library in Seattle and a muggy little room in Madison, Wisconsin.
A few years back I was feeling like a gross blob, so I decided to try every free or cheap class I could find in Portland. My only unfavorable experience was at a place called The a Rejuvenation Center (what?), where I attended a Bikram class (a.k.a. hot yoga) and didn’t bring any water. Usually places have complimentary water, but this studio only sold those fancy glass tubes of Voss for $4 apiece. During the practice, our instructor referred to us as “team” and encouraged people not to leave, even if they were feeling faint. I was in terrible shape, but somehow endured the whole thing and then felt like I was going to collapse and die. The twenty minute walk home was so unbearable I had to stop at the convenience store two blocks from my apartment and buy a drink instead of waiting a few more moments to have one for free.
Kundalini yoga can get pretty wild. Shakti House has these faux bearskin rugs you can use instead of regular mats during kundalini practice. Because it’s not about stretching and posing. It’s about rubbing your palms together a million times, beating on the floor and doing breathing exercises that set your guts on fire. It’s about popping up and down like a Jack in the box until your legs are sizzling. I should try it again some time.
Most of the yoga I’ve done was at an awesome place in Seattle called Samadhi. I was there at least once a week for three years. At one point my boss bought me six months of unlimited classes and I started attending several times a week, as if I’d gone bananas. There was this super mellow restorative class where my friend Catherine said it felt like everyone was “straining toward enlightenment.” She was right, but we both still kinda liked it. And everyone on the planet loved Yvonne’s hardcore vinyasa nights, but after my friend Serin convinced me to go straight for the level two version, I stayed away from Yvonne altogether. One of my favorite teachers was Tim, who often added unconventional twists to the practice. We did acroyoga with partners, candle-gazed and ate weird raw desserts he’d prepared. One night we all had a block fight, throwing the purple foam rectangles at each other. Another time he had us get in a circle and bust out a series of 108 sun salutations. At the end of every cycle we had to lie face down on the ground, then get up and start over. About halfway through, I felt so ridiculous I burst out laughing and started a domino effect. The most awkward activity was probably when we had to pair off and stare into each other’s eyes for several minutes. I’d never met my staring comrade before, but when we were done she admitted she couldn’t see me anyway, since she wasn’t wearing her glasses. But I think the best interaction I ever had with a yoga partner was when I asked a girl how long she’d been practicing and she answered, “Since utero.”