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  • The guy who wears black socks, and the others

    19 comments Published Nov 8, 10 AM
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    By Kate Stone

    It took me seven months to start teaching yoga again. Partly because I now live in a city with a backwards supply/demand scale to the one I left behind. And partly because I went on several auditions wherein my love of anatomy was laid waste to a thirst for yoga missionary work.

    I will not extol the virtues of yogic philosophy to you whilst your knee flamingo-folds.

    Recently, I lucked into teaching a lunchtime class in a corporate office building. Sixty vinyasa-filled yoga minutes offered to anyone who works in the top seven floors of a tower near the Christian Science Center. The room is carpeted. It is next to the lunchroom. There are white boards.

    It is an odd place for a zen oasis. It is, truthfully, not a place for a zen oasis. It is exactly like every love I’ve ever had: sprung up unexpectedly, different than everyone else and not at all resembling a zen oasis. And just like those other personally idyllic loves, this one bit me in the strangest ways.

    Top Seven Reasons I Love Teaching My Weird Little Class:

    1. The guy who wears black socks. Eventually I might have to pull him aside and tell him how he’s anatomically altering his base of support by not rooting to the mat in bare feet, but for now I just don’t have the heart. He’s so unabashedly unpretentious; it restores my faith in humanity.
    2. The seven blocks and two straps kept in a filing cabinet. This strange and lopsided ratio of props tucked away like a stash of Halloween candy is a comforting reminder that props are designed for purposeful instruction or modification. They are not the automatic set design so often required in studios.
    3. The white board that blocks the lunchroom view. During my first class, one of the students took the large, wheeled board and slid it behind the glass doors to give our class some privacy. The privacy of roughly two by four feet blocks only the center of the door. He then took a marker and wrote “YOGA” on the board. In case we needed to be specific.
    4. No MBO, no announcements, no head counts. Granted, I do have to remind the security guard in the lobby who I am every week even though I’m the only lulu-bedecked individual in the entire suited, corporate building. I do not, however, have to sign anyone in or tell anyone to register for teacher training, nor do I have to urge students to pay extra money for things they do not need. I slip in, teach class and leave. It feels like stealing.
    5. The lack of incense. Incense makes me sneeze, but I don’t actually mind it. Its presence, however, usually also indicates a need for its existence. As in, the room’s natural state is a stench of sweat and stale breath.
    6. The guy who can do every pose. He can do full splits. He can do Bird of Paradise. He can hold Warrior II for upwards of seventy-eight breaths. He’s happy with any sequence. And he has no idea what any of the poses are called.
    7. The way I feel like an asshole when I say “Namaste.” This used to feel so natural because it’s the way I’ve closed a class since I started taking class a million years ago. And suddenly, it sounds clunky and out of place. It sounds like forced Easternism and entitled yuppie-dom and pretense. It looks like I’m trying something on that I just can’t pull off. Like leopard print.

    And that’s really what it comes down to, isn’t it? Sometimes I feel like a “Namaste” and sometimes I don’t. There are days and moments and stretches in which I want a heated room or chanting or towels to rent. A zen oasis, if you will. There are pieces of those things to me. To my own practices in Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Forrest, Kundalini. But as a teacher, I, myself, am a simple anatomy junkie, happiest when teaching yoga.

    YOGA, to be specific.

    About Kate Stone

    Kate started taking yoga in middle school as a rebellious move against sports camp. After years of gymnastics, not having to flip over after a backbend was a relief, and the practice stuck. After college, Kate moved to Chicago to teach mean children how to read. She was marginally successful but felt severely, physically ill-equipped to deal with the fighting in her classroom. As someone who takes things literally, she became a personal trainer. Kate spent eight years in Chicago working in gyms, bars and museums, feeling like she was supposed to have a real job. Last year she realized she doesn’t ever want one of those. Kate spent all of her money on yoga training, and is now a yoga teacher, writer and bartender living in Boston.