Kate’s into this kind of yoga called Bikram Yoga, or hot yoga, where you stretch in a room that’s about a hundred degrees. It’s supposed to feel very cleansing. She bought Rebecca a guest pass for her birthday while I was in Pittsburgh and volunteered to watch the babies while we went to the evening class.
It turned out that the ginger behind the counter was our instructor. I’m not sure when our relationship went south, but it was somewhere between when I objected to filling out all my personal information (because, I said, I was only a visitor) and when I asked for change back from the twenty I gave him. He gave me back four dollars as though I had asked him for spare change for a six pack. He was thin to the point of emaciation; I told Rebecca that anyone can have musculature like that when you don’t eat. He looked for worlds like Dicken’s Uriah Heep– after he got a little power and less ‘Umble. His adam’s apple was very chiseled and he had a barcode tattooed on the back of his neck and he looked like the sort of person who gets a barcode tattooed on the back of his neck.
After changing, Rebecca and I joined the others in the sauna room. It was lined with mirrors and I realize, in retrospect, why the desirable places were in the back of the room, where no one can look at your sweaty bum in teeny black biker shorts, which is what I was wearing. Rebecca had brought her smidge of a yoga mat; it was about half the size of a normal one, because she cuts pieces off it to work in her garden. I giggled about it, but to me, that really embodies the spirit of yoga. The union of mind and body. How much more yogic could you get! Nurturing your vegetables on your knees so that you can feed your body when they grow.
A woman with very beautiful tattooes snippily asked Rebecca what happened to her mat and then cut her off and went and got her a new one. We were in the worst places in the class, which means we were in the front row with the florescents above us and the mirrors working in tandem with the lights to cast every wintry bit in sharp relief. Had I been the gr0undhog, I would have turned and run too.
Rebecca and I were pale as driven snow, in marked contrast with most of the people in the room, who had managed to eke out a tan in snowy Pittsburgh(?) or, more likely, painted it on. The girl beside me was unabashedly orange. She reminded me of those early Etruscan paintings, but the men rather than the women. The men were orange and the women were always painted a creamier color. The men were always doing cool things too, like buffalo jumping which I murkily recall as a rite of passage. Some of the stretches we did really would have fit in nicely in Etruscan palace murals.
I didn’t enjoy Bikram as much as Vinyasa, frankly. Of course, I also have the luxury (when I can afford it) of going to the upstairs Carr Mill Mall and stretching in a room with ancient wide polished planks and a roomful of tall arched windows and brick walls, taught by the incomparable Michelle or else Allison, who I’ve met once and that was all I needed to love her. Women who do not in any way resemble Uriah Heep and who also don’t place a premium on looking early Etruscan. They encourage gratitude and nice feelings, whereas Uriah Heep kept barking at us to hold it in and touch our patellas to the backs of our heads.
It lasted a lot longer than I anticipated. It was like a club of really fit, really orange people, and the second most interesting person in there, after the instructor, was a woman that I figured was gunning for him. She was super fit and super bendy. She could bend at a right angle to the floor. Kate told us later that she’s a co-instructor. I kept trying to hiss at Rebecca to look at how goody two-shoes she was, but I was getting some Uriah glares and shut up. There was a very hairy man a couple rows back, who I liked to watch in the mirror because whenever we leaned our heads back really far he grinned with all his teeth and it looked very strange. Uriah wasn’t as orange as most of the people, but his hair and body-freckles were. He was the type of person who was probably teased all through his childhood and regrettably the teasing had stopped. He was on a power trip, for sure. We got in trouble twice for talking. He asked us, Ladies, can it wait? — in a nasty little voice which sounded like he wasn’t exactly calling us ladies.
Rebecca was very good and had a lot of stamina. Towards the end I spent most of my time hating the leg of Uriah when he came over to stand near us to make sure that we wouldn’t talk. My hair had frizzed out into a puffy ball. Rebecca’s hair somehow looked damply elegant. The Etruscan to my left was sweating through a mask of makeup and even the bendy minion in the back couldn’t stand on her wrist for more than a minute.
Take this as a lesson, all of you! Appreciate your yoga instructors who aren’t Uriah! It’s Friday and I’m signing off.