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—“This pose teaches you to stand with steadiness and strength, like a mountain.”
The instructor says it might feel as though all you are doing is standing but, really, there is so much more happening in your body. She talks about being one with your body, feeling yourself filling out every bit of it, being whole. She talks about centres. You snort loudly. Your girlfriend, on the mat next to yours, throws you a look.
—“Stand with your feet close together. Press down through all your toes…”
You are told to engage unknown muscles in equally unknown ways. You figure half of making it through the session is pretending. There is no way everyone in this class understands what is happening. It feels like being back in postmodernism lectures with everyone saying they understand Derrida.
—“You have to imagine a string at the top of your head all the way up to the ceiling which pulls you straight. Good, and breathe deeply for eight breaths. One, two, three…”
—“This will help to ground you…”
As though you need help with that. You are stuck. You and your girlfriend are stuck. That is why you came to this class in the first place. This is her thing, not yours. She said you do not do enough things together. Things that are not each other. Things that are not your things. You mentioned that thing at the art gallery. “Your friend was exhibiting,” she said. Your thing. The camping trip at the lake? “All your friends were going with their girlfriends and you didn’t want to be left,” she replied at a smooth trot. “And you hate camping.” Your thing too. What about the Tarantino marathon? You distinctly recall that being fun. She looked at you in a way which let you know it was also your thing.
You like your girlfriend. So you told her you were down to do whatever she likes. You want to be a supportive boyfriend. You want to be present. You quickly rule out church, running, and watching period dramas just so she does not get any funny ideas. Also, you add quickly, you will not try part-time vegetarianism. Not even for her. You say you are cool with everything else though.
Hence this yoga class and your disinterested presence in it. She said it might be a good idea. Couple goals and all that. You figured it was time anyway. Yoga is the one thing she stuck with, the one part of her routines she has not changed since you started dating. Now that you think of it, everything else really has been your stuff. She even bought a PlayStation controller so you could shoot zombies together. She is becoming pretty decent at FIFA.
Yeah, you had to take this yoga class with her.
—“Put your right foot on your inner left thigh, as high as you can go. Then bring your hands together in prayer … and breathe deeply…”
This is nonsense. You sigh too loudly. Your girlfriend looks at you again.
You said you would not complain.
You said you would do her thing.
DOWNWARD FACING DOG
—“…try to keep the legs straight, stretch out those hamstrings, good, good … move your hands forward on the mat to give yourself more length…”
You laugh. Give yourself more length. Your girl looks at you again.
What is wrong with you?
What? That was funny. Come on.
—“And hold for eight breaths. Good … four, five, six…”
PLANK INTO CHATURANGA
—“And then down, nice and steady, don’t drop all at once!”
This is more like it. Your core tickles a little as it ignites. This kind of thing is fodder for your physique.
—“…and breathe, nice and deep breaths…”
All this crap about breathing. Someone in the back is puffing like Thomas the Tank Engine. You sneak a glance back at the Little Chubby Engine That Couldn’t.
—“Push the pubic bone into the floor…”
You laugh again. Someone else does too. Your girlfriend rolls her eyes.
This is not so hard. What was the hype? Any minute now she is going to say—
—“Breathe, breathe. In, out, feel the air move in your nose, and breathe, feel it exit through your mouth…”
This pose is just a lunge that went to private school. The other students are so into it though. The studio looks like a cult worship ceremony with everyone reaching up for the rapture. If only your friends could see you now.
But this matters to her. And she matters to you. You shall restrain yourself. You shall endure. For her. For who she is to you. For what she has done for you.
You just wish yoga had more … oomph.
And always with the damn—
This is nothing but stretching with a view. Your girlfriend has the best ass, heavier than a first-day period. She has a head of curls which makes you preach the curly-girl gospel. Depending on how she styles it she can be five different women. You even know what a pineapple bun is. You bought her a Kente cloth head-wrap that one time. The best is when she has her mane out, fierce as fuck. Sometimes you help her to detangle it.
There is another girl two mats over who is worth a sly peak or two. The other women are okay-ish. Some of the poses push their figures into interesting shapes though.
There are two other guys in the class. One, you decide, is definitely gay. His eyelids do not even flutter a bit when homegal two mats over has her breasts bearing down on him like a car with its brights on. The other guy, sinewy and lithe, looks like he was coerced into this as well. You give him a “well, what’re you gonna do” kind of shrug and he smiles back. Maybe you are not the only boyfriend in search of yogic redemption. You just need this class to end so you can finally use all the hashtags you could not use before.
#relationshipgoals #doyoueven #theadventuresofyogabear #myfavouriteposeisbae
TRIANGLE INTO EXTENDED TRIANGLE INTO REVOLVED TRIANGLE
Whoa! Whoa! Things just scaled up. Triangle was okay, but what the hell is this?
You are facing your girlfriend. You can feel a vein growing in your forehead. The vein you get when a bad curry calls your midnight hotline. Your girlfriend looks serene. You try to keep it together so she does not see you struggle.
—“Keep your right hand on the ground and your left reaching up. Imagine trying to touch the ceiling.”
REVOLVED SIDE ANGLE
—“Keep your back heel down in this pose!”
This shit is getting ridiculous. Parts of your body have to meet other parts of your body they were never made to meet. Homegal two mats over stumbles a bit but she regains her footing. The Little Chubby Engine That Couldn’t is huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Wolf. The other guys do not seem to be struggling. Even the boyfriend-looking one. He was supposed to be on your side. You were supposed to struggle together but he looks like he has been here before. Are you the only person who has not been accompanying their girlfriend to yoga classes? What new boyfriend level have you not unlocked?
—“And stretch forward like you’re trying to touch something just out of reach…”
—“Bring your shins into your armpits…”
Nah! This bitch is tripping!
—“…and then lift up onto the balls of your feet…”
—“Find your balance.”
Your girlfriend is silent.
—“If you’re finding this one hard…”
The whole class is silent.
The edges of your vision close in.
—“Breathe! Come on, nice deep breaths! There we go. Breathe. Give him space. You’re going to be all right. Just breathe.”
You do not talk to your girl all the way home.