I’d been sweating through yoga for a good 45 minutes already when the instructor had us pause to watch a partner pose.
And then she called on me to join her at the mat to demonstrate.
I know this instructor from my Friday night class. She’s your stereotypical Earth mama yogi. She’s perfect for a gentle class because it doesn’t require too much explanation of poses, just a lot of lofty hippyesque talk in a calming voice. She does that part really well. She’s been subbing for the regular instructor on Sundays and Supple and I have been attempting to follow along despite her instructions that are, at best, choppy and ill-timed. I need her to tell me what we’re going to do before we’re required to do it. Not tell me after I am bent into a contortion or tell me to exhale when I’ve already inhaled and exhaled twice. (Oops.)
So I walk up to her and the mat in front of watchful eyes. She asks me to bend into triangle pose. I’m looking at her like: Are you SURE you meant to pick me?! But the entire class is looking at me (in my tank top I might add) so to save face I position myself into it hoping I’m doing it right. She’s encouraging, standing close behind me but not touching me. From triangle she has me bend into my forward leg so that my leg is bent. Ok, got it. Then she has me place my fingers on the block near my front foot for balance. Ok, doing it. Now what?
Maybe it’s because I am paralyzed beyond the capacity for rational thought but I’m not hearing her tell me to do anything except hop my back leg forward towards my front leg. I do that again. Then again. I’m thinking, “Where is this pose going?” I have no frame of reference as I’ve never seen it performed, let alone done it myself. I’m feeling frustrated and wobbly because HELLO! HOW I AM SUPPOSED TO HOLD A POSE WHEN I AM SO PREOCCUPIED WITH PERFORMING and my knees are screaming at me and everyone is looking at me and I don’t know what the hell she’s asking me to do, I bow out. I tell her my knees can’t do it and apologize. I sheepishly make my way back to my mat at the wall and hope that I don’t look as much the fool as I feel.
Everyone applauds because yoga is encouraging and kind like that but in my head I imagine they are all thinking stuff like, “the fat girl couldn’t get into pose” or “what a shame she couldn’t do it”. I don’t like not being good at something. I especially don’t like not being good at something in public. All my self-esteem and failure shit is boiling up in me as I watch another woman move to the mat, bend her body into the pose, touch the block and then LIFT HER BACK LEG.
Wait. A. Second. I was supposed to lift my back leg?! Why didn’t she just say so!? I’m standing next to Supple whispering, “Did she ever say for me to lift my back leg?” But she doesn’t know because she couldn’t hear the instructions given the teacher’s back was to her.
Well, fuck me.
So Supple and I spot each other on the pose. She folds her body into it and holds it. Then it’s my turn. I get into triangle, streaming my chest out and my arm up high to the ceiling. I’m breathing. I scoot my back leg towards my front and ensure the weight is on the front leg and hand. I’m focused on my center and my breathing when I lift my back leg up and out. I’m doing it.
I’m doing it! I’m in half moon pose.
Right then the teacher comes by saying, “I knew you could do it!” She’s apologetic saying she didn’t realize I wasn’t familiar with the pose when she called me up. She was kind and reassured me that I did what she needed me to do- to show how to hold the triangle pose steady from the core. I’m still stewing over the embarrassment though through the rest of class despite trying to push it aside or shake it loose.
Class ends and the woman who had picked up my slack to show the class how to get into half moon came over to my mat. She wanted me to know that when she started yoga a year and a half ago she couldn’t even get into to triangle like I did. It was sweet of her to offer that to me. As I was putting on my shoes another student came up to me saying she thought it was brave that I went up there. It’s nice that people are compassionate. I’m still trying to drop it from my psyche though. Forgive myself for not performing properly. For not knowing what I did not know.