Sometime back I publicly threatened to attempt yoga. So when Carroll, Fab Five member in good standing, arranged for our gaggle to enjoy a private session followed by a hands-on Ayurvedic cooking demonstration, I couldn’t refuse without accusations of journalistic fakery.
It was raining as I toted my pink, pristine yoga mat under one arm, while walking the street, looking for the address. My phone said my destination was on the right, but it was early for me to be out. Sue and her mat joined me on the hunt, and together we made a bold statement for modern maturity. Damp and confused, we finally arrived at a stunning historic home in Ashland overlooking the hills.
The name of our gracious instructor will remain private at her request. What she studies is traditional yoga, not Western yoga. But for one uninitiated, I only suspected it had something to do with bending and holding various movements. Back troubles have necessitated lots of stretching and limbering, so I felt unduly confident. We spread our mats after disclosing various physical shortcomings and signing liability waivers. The lists read like an ad for an osteopathic workshop.
We entered a peaceful room used solely for yoga. First and foremost, she taught us proper breathing. She demonstrated the time it should take to breathe in then out, and I knew I had much to learn about something I’d been doing all my life. The technique involved a soft back-of-the-throat air flow through the nose. This was to be maintained throughout our movements. So, the challenge of breathing, emptying, stretching and holding simultaneously was at hand, in the morning.
As we moved gracefully (I’m writing this story), the room remained peaceful and quiet — a soothing escape from our day and night rush of activity. I understood the value of habitual relaxation.
She chose a few active stretches for us, during which there occurred no falling or commotion, but for some popping and quivering. She followed with five restorative poses. We held these for five minutes, which basically seemed like 20. This proved especially true when we lay on our backs with our feet together and knees open. Though my eyes were closed in serenity, I heard our instructor position small blocks under everyone else’s knees. Being Peggy, I whispered I’d be fine without the blocks. About one minute in, my tail bone and thigh muscles began barking at me, berating me for a pompous fool. I tried to invisibly reposition my legs.
We finished in corpse pose, a non-movement at which I excel. At some point, I forgot to use the breathing technique and kept smiling for thinking of ideas from our shared experience. Plus there was a stellar jay squawking outside, I could smell freshly mown grass, and someone to my right had perfected the breathing and was doing the best Darth Vader I’d ever heard. My senses were awake. Then I noticed a rumbly in my tumbly.
I haven’t left nearly room to describe the heavenly Ayurvedic cooking. We all participated, enjoying a totally immersive experience. And so much preparation. The aromas of Indian spices built to such a culinary crescendo, that by the time we got to eat, I inadvertently began dancing around the kitchen.
In traditional style, we ate with our hands, as in, no forks or napkins. This proved to be the one aspect I could have lived without. I mean, I tried to not look at anyone else’s fingers or mouths, but I felt like an utter goop. After we’d finished, all I could think about was running to the faucet, but no one moved. There I sat, trying to converse and remain traditional as I felt rice and coconut chutney drying like plaster on my fingers.
The day could only be described as exceptional, and I relived it all later when I smelled the delicious Indian spices in my hair.
Peggy Dover is a freelance writer in Eagle Point. Reach her at email@example.com.