Detachment and the Yoga Teacher



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Neighborhood: All Over, Multiple

First of all, and please note that this preventive axiom applies to many long and painful life detours, never take a job that you hate, particularly when it happens to be with a large company where people refer to working in their offices until 11:00 p.m. as “staying late” and recount it—“I could just relax. Everything flowed. I could have stayed all night”—as if they’d spent the evening on a first date with their soul mate.

Because when you take a job where your insides are so much at odds with your outsides, you will be especially vulnerable to anyone who is able to name this brand of misery (imagine if Betty Friedan had been a strapping, straight male . . .). In fact, it will start as early as the first class, when the lights dim for savasana, that is, “resting” pose. The yoga teacher—who, wildly against type, is good looking, lean but not skinny, with rock star biceps and doctor’s hands—will start to talk about “finding fulfillment inside” and “being at one with yourself,” and you will, very softly, start to cry.

This lack of distinction will be confirmed when, after several weeks of trying to time your departure from the locker room to coincide with that of the luscious-as-bath-water teacher, who God help you is also blessed with a slurry European accent, you finally time it right. You go to the deli for Evian and return to the gym under the pretense of needing the new class schedule, and you finally have the opportunity to distinguish yourself from the masses. He’s standing at the desk, wearing an adorable knit hat. You touch his arm and he looks at you with what you expected: Searching Eyes. You won’t allow yourself to realize (though, again, on some level you know) that he is searching his brain for any memory of who you might be. So you tell him. “I’m in your yoga class.” He nods, smiles, pretends to have known who you were all along, and you smile back as if he’s just asked you to marry him. When you remember to speak, you ask him if he teaches at any other gyms or studios, so that you might attend one more class a week. “I hate my job,” you tell him, everything flowing. “Your class really helps me to . . . relax.”

You are really asking for trouble when you find his email address by accessing an obscure yoga directory on Google. If you can, by all means resist inviting him to tea. If you cannot resist, you will probably also be unable to resist using the phrase “I’m interested in your path.” Although at this point, you probably still believe that this is what you’re interested in. When you sit down at the café, you will be nervous, even though on some level you know that he has already had tea with hundreds of you. If you could realize this, not only would you be less nervous but you would save yourself a lot of trouble. But we all think we’re different, and I’m not here to tell you we’re not.

Just know that the first thing he will ask is: Why are you here? You will either A) smile and speak unconsciously in unrhymed couplets about everything wrong with your life until you run out of breath or B) start crying. If you fall into category B, try as best you can to steel yourself against the next 15 minutes. Most men hate crying women so much that when your yoga teacher doesn’t move, when his clear, deeply set, oceanic eyes do not shift their gaze from yours for even a second, it will have such a profound effect on you that you will start to consider having his child. Resist that thought (though it’s ridiculous for me to even offer caution at this point), because you will feel sure that, for the first time in five years, your life’s path has finally reversed its headlong descent. In fact, you will feel your climb accelerate as he talks about finding the freedom inside, how that is the only place it exists, and, having found it, you won’t need to go anywhere or change anything. Ever.

If you start having “privates,” one-on-one sessions in his personal studio on a quiet block in the West Village with diminutive balconied buildings where it’s so peaceful the snow doesn’t shake off the trees, there’s not much more I can do to help you. You might get through one or two sessions, but soon your fantasies about walking through the door and lying in “have your way with me” on the sun-drenched daybed will win out. At this point, you might as well go with it, just be kind to yourself.

You’ll need the practice, ha, ha, because before long, after a few months of chic vegetarian dinners, after-sex meditation, and the best groping sessions you’ve experienced since high school (in the dairy section of Healthy Pleasures of all places), he will sit across from you over tea (it might even be the same café where he first asked you: why are you here?), and tell you that the woman two mats down from you in class that day gave him her phone number. As your eyes well up with tears, he will tell you without shifting his gaze that, being free, he is planning to call her. This will feel nothing short of wrenching, even if it is clear confirmation that there are hundreds of you. And he will watch your face contort in ways your body has never quite managed and tell you, ever so softly, that you are in the process of becoming free, too

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