This is NOT what I set out to write today. But here it is anyway:
Some things I’ve witnessed in yoga classes: mobile phones, sunglasses-on-the-head, coffee, smoothies, body odor, bad breath, stinky feet, burps, snoring, weeping, groaning, yelling, bags, shoes, jeans, jean shorts, someone’s 7-year-old, hair, toenails, jokers, players, bullies, prima-donnas, high-fives, gallons of sweat, butt cracks, side-boobs, side-testicles, and yes, side-vag. (This should be set to music.)
I have heard and smelled farts, but I have never farted in a class. I have never seen someone faint in class, but apart from tunnel vision once from digging a once-inch splinter from my fingertip with a pocket knife, the yoga matt is the only other place I’ve almost blacked out. During a series of postures all involving padmasana, my left knee popped wetly then immediately tightened, probably from trauma-swelling. I kept going. I was once asked by an instructor to demo halasana and then so promptly thanked and asked to release it that I’m certain something unbecoming was visible to all. I myself have dripped face sweat twice into the eyes of people with whom I’m partnered for handstands. I’ve perspired so much during one class that I was able to wring moisture from my t-shirt. That’s been topped by a classmate who lifted his towel-covered mat after savasana and dumped a bucket of sweat onto the floor. Oops, he said, I’ve been on antibiotics, and people around him nodded with knowing approval. By now I’ve been so exposed to foot bacteria that I’ve surely developed my own living, protective patina. I’ve seen two gigglers ejected from a class before it even started, never, as far as I know, to return. I've assisted the most overweight yet strong and flexible yogi I've ever met to go from a backbend to a handstand to a forward bend and gotten my arm fully lodged in the rolls of his gut along the way. I’ve been scolded by a misinformed, mean-spirited elf before class not to walk on the recently-sanitized mats and wasted the entire practice thinking of what I should have said to him.
I have participated in group teacher training cleansing rituals where I’ve willingly threaded a rubber catheter into my nostril and out through my mouth. I’ve chugged a gallon of warm salt water to trigger a vomit reflex, and succeeded. Once, after a day’s worth of classes ending with a particularly unfamiliar spine-twisting sequence, my eyes crossed involuntarily for about a minute. I’ve gone to bed and woken up with more aches than when I built a house. I’ve dropped 15 pounds in one week. I’ve sometimes lost strength and flexibility with an increase in yoga. I’ve stood up from a back bend and reflexively hugged the startled teacher holding my waist. I’ve undergone so much physical limit-pushing that my only remaining coping tool was a gutteral hum. (I figured at least my voice could escape my body at that point.)
Here’s the classy part: after EVERY practice, I leave feeling better mentally and physically than when I arrived.