Curiosity and a desire for a change in my workout routine led me into a yoga class about 6 years ago. Since the class was free as part of a gym membership, I thought it would be a good way to add flexibility to the weight training and treadmill exercises I had already been doing. Sampling a class, I was sure, could tell me all I needed to know.
The lights in the yoga room were turned down, a restful feeling after a work out beneath the gym’s fluorescents. The floor space within the room was carpeted with colorful, spongy mats slotted neatly parallel. The yoga students were mostly women, of no particular age or size, but I noticed that the ones who looked experienced moved like the edges of full leaves cuffed by a soft wind.
Some yoga students, free of shoes and wearing loose fitting garments, were stretching waists and necks and legs comfortably. Some were talking together in a quiet way dimming their voices to match the lighting. Without introduction, the teacher entered the room and closed the door, cutting off the excess noise and my only escape. With the signature Indian sound of a tabla drum, I began to feel a low fever. I did what all trapped human animals do…I rationalized. My maximum investment was an hour and a half. Weird things scar but don’t kill. I stayed put.
My yoga teacher was thin, short, female and Indian. Meena did not smile but simply went to her mat and announced that we would begin. No debate invited. Her voice, unlike her severe manner, feathered across the room, a notch above a dear friend’s whisper, intertwining with and lifting the music. I hear her still, rising to a quiet command as I did my best to follow.
Those 90 minutes did not change my life but it did call me back and I went.