Tuesday, February 19, 2008

FREE Yoga Class Ruined by SUV

This is a story of serenity... interrupted. My wife is attending prenatal yoga classes and she's really liking it. She tells me that she wishes that we could take class together, but no boys allowed among the bulging babes. Luckily, Karen forwarded an email to me about FREE yoga classes at her school, where in-training instructors hone their skills while penny-pinching bohos, like me, contort ourselves into a connection with our inner deities.

No, I'm not going to tell you where/when the free yoga class takes place. The room was filled to the brim and I hope to find a space next week. However, a little web sleuthing will probably lead you to the low down (or you can go to my profile and email me). The real news here is that YOGA IS GOOD and probably worth the $8-12 per class (even with a student teacher). I have pushed dietary advice and exercise in this space before, but yoga is something that can truly expand your horizons, if you haven't experienced it before.

As our trainer in-training made her way to the front of the class, I couldn't help noticing that she was a nearly featureless toothpick of a person, clearly one with the practice of asceticism. For a free class, I probably shouldn't complain about only getting 1/3 of an instructor, but how is this lady supposed to relate to me when her waistline is the square root of mine? Seriously though, she paced the class nicely, gave insightful instructions, skipped a minor detail here and there, and ultimately brought us all to the height of nirvana (more on that later).

Since I'm perpetually on the brink of unhealth, even though this was an intro class, the poses made me sweat, fall over, slouch instead of lengthening my spine, and I almost farted like three times. Yes, all of that updog, downdog, and twisting of the core is not only invaluable to your respiration and circulation, the movements will aid in digestion - public be damned. This kind of thing isn't a problem when following along with a DVD of Rodney Yee in my living room, but face to face classes offer more community interaction and impetus to suppress bodily functions.

Fortunately, after about 45 minutes of connected breathing and challenging the elasticity of my muscles, I had transcended many of my usual worldly distractions (and bathroom humor) and achieved a meditative state not unlike exhaustion. This was when the instructor had each of us unfold a blanket over our yoga mats. Yes, it was time for "corpse pose" (also known as nap time).
Now, I've never experienced savasana with a blanket over top of the tacky rubber mat, but I was grateful to be in a deeply relaxed state no matter where I was. As we each assumed the death position on our backs, with our arms at our sides and palms facing up, my mind wandered to sights and sounds of the recent past. One the images that lingered in my mind was the serene face of Marlo Stansfield as he closed the eyes of his mentor, Proposition Joe, just as his hitman Chris prepared to fire a gun into the back of Joe's head. If you've seen this episode of The Wire, you know how haunting that moment was. Yes, I was certainly slipping away into oblivion; hopefully a round trip.

There were other dreams and epiphanies that rose to the surface and faded away, but none so creepy. After some time passed, I began to be conscious of my breath (was I snoring?) and I heard my instructor's voice again. She told us to hold onto the "still point" that we had discovered within ourselves and to try and carry that with us into our day. For me, the combination of physical exertion and meditation created a mild euphoria and increased value for my fragile mortality. In other words, it felt like I'd found my still point for the first time. Having ridden my bicycle to the yoga studio, I was really looking forward to the sensation of pedaling and floating along with my newfound inner peace.

On my way home, my still point and I turned onto Robinson Street and I carried that fragile thing carefully like a carton of eggs atop a grocery bag. We were both really looking forward to a blissed out conversation with my wife and some mindful eating of leftovers. At Robinson and Idlewood, I stopped at the red light, hoping for a break in the cross traffic to slip through the intersection. But, I had to patiently wait for some cars to turn in front of me as I eased into the intersection. Behind me, a SUV creeped up on my back tire, sending an intimidating message. There was only one lane, so I stood in the way of the SUV's right on red. They'd have to wait until the coast was clear for me to proceed through the unorthodox intersection (somewhat illegally, although I'm not a geeky bike rider who thinks he's a car). Then, the SUV driver layed on the horn just as I got out of their way. A woman leaned her head out of the SUV cursing up a storm as she turned right onto Idlewood. I snapped out of my trance and instinctively responded with a middle finger and upped the ante on her swear word salad.

Goodbye still point. Hello car culture.

What a welcome back to the real world. I'm won't go into a justification for the defensiveness of bicyclists trying to fend for themselves amid blaring horns and tons of steel flying every which way. It's not a human rights campaign that we relish waging, although the joy of bike riding is worth fighting for. It's just a disappointment, because I thought my transcendent state would at least make it through lunch. But, it's a temperamental world and I can only expect to declare my independence from hot-headed social interactions intermittently. This was no Piccola's debacle, but it was a little bit jarring.

If you've read this far, then you deserve something more substantially insightful (and uplifting to boot!) than what you've found here. Check out Frank Rich's NY Times breakdown of an election between McCain/Obama and it includes loads of Virginia history references. If you want to comment about it, please put your two cents onto the ongoing primary debate going on here.


  1. Some people just don't play well with others... Post a description of her Urban Assault Vehicle and we can start a keying campaign...

  2. Anonymous10:42 AM

    Gosh Jason, no picture of the SUV? What would A Year in Richmond think?

  3. Other bicyclists might circle back, pull out a U-Lock and wave it menacingly at the windshield of the offending driver, but I don't think that's gonna win the hearts and minds. And I don't think I'm going to take after the previously mentioned blogger by posting pictures. Guess it's just me and my still point against the world (and my foul mouth and middle finger of course).

  4. OK.... Have it your way. At least she didn't hit you. My dad is an avid cyclist in Portland, a very bike friendly city, and he manages to get hit once every three to five years.

  5. Foodie,
    One of the best things I can say for VA, is that those types of confrontations don't usually lead to fisticuffs, like they always did in my homestate of NJ. That's my Northeastern version of looking on the positive side.


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