When partner yoga attacks!
By Matthew Teague Miller
The following is a fictional account, but it could easily be true.
After a typically crazy day of kids, traffic, school, traffic, work, and traffic, I decide to head to Santa Monica’s Yoga Yada Yada for a nice, relaxing, and easy restorative class.
Oh, cool. Jeff is teaching. He is awesome. Pretty full class too. We “tune in.” We chant.
Jeff speaks: “Alright, everyone. Looks like we have a nice even 18 of you today, so find a friend and pair up. For the next couple of poses you will need a partner. Don’t be shy, we are all friends here. Remember, yoga is union, so find someone! Find your Wonder Twin!”
Partner yoga? My Yoga PTSD begins to kick in. I’m about to experience the most traumatic two minutes of my day, in my $20 yoga class.
Nothing personal, yoga peeps, but I can’t get all Wonder Twins with you. I just kind of, sort of think I maybe need to leave immediately. Didn’t I leave something cooking on the stove? Isn’t my back hurting or something? Oh, and the black bean chili I had at lunch? That is definitely a partner yoga deal-breaker, right? I think the final episode of “Biggest Loser” is on tonight, can’t miss that! Yeah, I think I am the biggest loser here in this class, because there is nothing that scares me like partner yoga with virtual strangers. Gazing into the eyes of someone I’ve never seen before. A stranger’s body pressed against my own, mingling sweat. The class is gleefully atwitter as I contemplate building a secret fort out of bolsters to hide behind. Nobody will notice! Brilliant!
Anything, everything, but this; anywhere but here.
You know, I think I’ll just slink over here to the water cooler, drink a gallon of water while this madness passes. I’ll pretend to have not heard Teacher Jeff’s admonishments to “find your Wonder Twin.” I’ll avoid all eye-contact, become like a stone.
Damn! Jenny, a yogini of the highest order, just got me to make eye contact, and now she’s walking my way. Oh sweet, sweet jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, please let her walk right past me to Frank; he is great. Frank is cool. He’s really sweet, and handsome — a bit like a short Rob Riggle! I could really see Jenny and Frank in a relationship. Yes, they should definitely hook up! Immediately, would be great, in fact. Jenny and Frank! I can see it now. Frank, oh, you are paired with Gwyneth. Dammit. This is the most harrowing six seconds I have had in the last twelve seconds.
Did I bring my Xanax? No, and Jenny is walking my way. Panic. Setting. In.
“Matt?” Jenny is standing right in front of me. She is talking to me, to my face, right there. Panic. Deepens. I blurt: “Oh god, yes? Make it stop? Did I say that out loud?”
Jenny, who is always so kind, patient, always totes tranquilo, and very, very petite, stands before me, with an expectant look in her eyes. “Can we partner up, Matt?”
“Uh, not—, I mean, sure, it’s just my… thing—“ I fumbled.
“I know! I love partner yoga too! It’s totally my favorite thing here, too!” Jenny said, with a blinding smile.
“Uh, no, my thingy… back-thing, back pain. Hurts. My back does. Maybe you could partner with the teacher?” Naturally, my powers of speech leave me, and my inability to lie is laid bare.
Jenny is perplexed, looking a little vexed actually. “Are you okay? You look a little panicked. Relax. I’ve done this before.” All I can think is “Yes, you have, but I haven’t and oh God I want an emergency donut because I am about to pass out.”
I should have said: “Jenny, look, you are great, but I am afraid I will crush you, as you weigh maybe 105 pounds, and I have 95 pound on that, and frankly, if we pair up, we will be Wonder Twins, form of: Very Sad Pyramids.”
What about the teacher? What was Jeff thinking? Flinging all these strangers together to touch and push and hold and elevate and invert together, as in: with each other? An actual, live woman is going to be, you know, on top of me for that one pose I saw in Yoga Journal? No, no, no. I have to be touched? By Jenny? She’s…. so… did I bring any Xanax?
Jeff’s voice bellows over all the jabbering of happily excited yoga students: “All of you found partners. Great. Matt, will you allow me to use you as our guinea pig? That okay?”
“Absolutely!” I nearly shout, lying, with, a creepy everything-is-as-it-should-be smile stuck on my mug. I realize I am wringing my hands, like Woody Allen in an unmade movie about the vagaries of the yoga scene.
“So Matt is going to start by sitting on the mat, preparing for Paschimottanasana. I’m going to scooch up behind him, in the same position, getting my buns as close to his as we can, comfortably.”
Whoa-whoa-whoa: Nobody said there would be any bun-touching today.
15 pairs of eyes, all watching intently as Jeff takes my hands (!!!) and I “unfold” over his back while he gently pulls my arms over his head and lowers into a deep paschimo. And it feels…wonderful. I suddenly start thinking about baseball, to get my mind off of what is happening here, as his sweaty hands pull on my clammy wrists. I let out an uncontrollable moan! Everyone laughs! At me (with me?) as I begin to laugh a little maniacally.
“Now Matt will take my hands and melt into paschimo.” Baseball floods my brain again, random stats start bouncing around my head as I pull Jeff on to my back and do my best to fight back to irrational, otherworldly fear that fills me at this moment.
We close the pose and we both stand up. “Okay guys, I’ll come by to adjust and help as needed,” Jeff says in his typically confident, cheery and direct manner.
Jenny invites me over to her mat. “This will be fun!” She says.
I smile, “Jenny, did you bring any Xanax?”
Jenny stares blankly at me, “I don’t even know what that means. Come on! Scooch your buns over here.”