I try not to pit my skills against any other person when in yoga class. But no matter how many times I tell myself to “Keep your eyes on your own mat,” as my yogi instructs, I sometimes fail in the endeavor. Like in last week’s ashtanga class.
Picture 20 people crammed in a ~40 square meter room. Mats virtually on top of each other. Not very pleasant, that. And all that ujjayi breathing warming the shala on what was already an extremely hot and humid summer day. A young guy positioned his mat (and himself) beside me. In Manila, few men I know have adopted yoga (which has only recently gained some popularity here) as their fitness regimen of choice, you see. So I thought, beginner, probably. No sweat.
I’m seriously stupid. Needless to say he not only kept pace, he outdid me in every pose (much to my irritation). Midway through class, I decided to focus on my own mat (It was exhausting trying to keep up anyway), my husband’s wise words (“Yoga is not a competitive sport!“) a mantra in my head. So I slowed down and moved my mat halfway behind his. I figured if I was physically behind him, I wouldn’t have to match him and I could concentrate on my own practice; no pressure.
And it worked well enough. That is, until the final corpse pose. Lying down, face up, top of the head to the front of the room, arms and feet splayed outwards beyond the edges of my mat, I settled in to relax. And then espied, out of the corner of my eye, and smelled, The Foot, his left one, resting much too close to my face. (So close, in fact, that if I turned my head to my right, my nose could have a really intimate conversation with this particular sweaty, smelly Foot.)
I know he’s deep into the pose when The Foot starts twitching ever so slightly. He’s falling asleep! I think to move back to my original position; but my shuffling about would surely distract the rest of the class. I close my eyes, grit my teeth and bear it. This is my punishment, I thought. For being an arrogant fool. This, I deserve.
I sense The Foot twitching again. As I open my eyes, it jerks. And hits me, square on the cheek.
Ouch. I didn’t deserve that.