There is No “I” in Yoga . . . but there is an Eyebrow 

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So here I am, at my yoga class, ready to be namastéd to hell and back, cuz it’s been a rough week. Haven’t been sleeping very well and my back has paid the price, but this class is my third in five days. Aren’t you proud of me? Look at me, waiting so patiently for this Core-class to start, acting pleasant toward those around me. I usually avoid eye contact and small talk at all costs; however, today, I make a concerted effort to not be rude. My usual rule of experiencing the Zen without a side of human is not in force, so I make nice with the person on the mat next to mine. She is quiet and nods to me, careful to keep the respectable two-to-three feet distance between us. Unfortunately, another someone wants very much to be close to me. Too close. But hold that thought. I’ll explain in a minute.

The teeny tiny yoga instructor addresses the class, ascertains who’s new and who’s a regular, then lowers herself ever-so-gracefully onto her mat, without using her hands to aid her descent. She motions for us to lower ourselves to the mat in the same manner. Only one of us succeeds, while the rest of us clunk down with varying degrees of grace. My degree is the square root of zero. There is no slow, measured movement into a sitting position for me. I’m lucky I don’t throw my back out. I bend at the waist, hunker my hands down on the mat then let my ass hit the floor, stifling a grunt in the process. An elephant wearing a tutu possesses more grace than I.  A+ for effort, though! Okay, I’m seated.

One minute down, fifty-nine to go.

I can’t help but laugh at her next words. They might have been “Sit down and get settled on your sitz bone,” but all I heard was “Sit on your sitz” and I smile. And so I sit on my sitz. Look at me! Sitting on my sitz. I’m sitzing! Haha! How funny is that? NOT FUNNY This is a serious transmeditational class, for god’s sake… I squeeze my eyes shut, willing my internal mouth to follow suit. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t. It never does. Those two cups of coffee before class were a ba-a-ad idea, but it was either fall down from exhaustion or caffeinate myself to come work out. I cast a smile to the woman on my left. Her eyes are closed. I’m alone in my sitzing, all caffeined and no one to know.

Two minutes down, fifty-eight to go.

Oh boy, this class is going to suck, for the road to Zen is filled with pain. No pain, no gain, right? I’m familiar with this instructor, and she’s murderous on the core. I mean, obviously, look at her. All flat-stomached and settling gracefully on her sitz. I adjust my Namasté in Bed t-shirt to cover my overbaked muffintop and await the next position.

“Ground yourself and your root chakra into the floor.” Ah, the centering of the self. I ground my root chakra into the floor as requested. The instructor contorts herself into a perfect pretzel-like, cross-legged pose, her thumbs and forefingers positioned in a precise loop atop her knees. I try to follow suit, still figuring out how to sit on my sitz as opposed to fidget-on-my-fat ass. This is more difficult than it should be due to the pulling of the groin muscle I did last week getting into pigeon pose. Pigeons don’t have groin muscles, I’m pretty sure, because if they did, they would never, ever strike a pose so ridiculous. Instead of centering, the pain causes me to curse my root chakra and the horse it rode in on. As everyone else in class assumes the peaceful seated pose, I stretch my legs out in front of me and squirm from side to side, unground and not Zenned in the least.

Next, our instructor prompts us to find a focal point six to eight feet in front of ourselves, zero in on the point and then soften our gaze. Supposedly, this is done to relax us. Pinching my thumbs and third fingers together to complete my circles, I will my energy circuit to cooperate. I search for a focal point the requisite six feet in front of me. What I find is far from ideal.

My softened gaze turns to a surly stare, for there, inching toward me in all its furry obnoxious glory, is an eyebrow. A centipede. One of those wiggly waggly insect-like creatures that moves so deftly it creeps out even the Let It Be bug lovers among us. There will be no more grounding for me. I am decidedly unground and halfway to my knees by the time I spy He Who Has Far Too Many Legs inching ever closer.

And now I’m faced with a dilemma. As everyone around me breathes in, breathes out, and exhales all their stale air up through their remaining chakras, mine are in revolt. I maintain perfect silence, swallowing my need to scream bloody murder while the segmentally hairy one proceeds to taunt me. He not only senses my fear, he is quite resolute in his mission to terrorize me. His little legs swish-swish-swish back and forth, to and fro, his combat boots marching in perfect goosestep formation toward my mat. This is no time for grounding. No time for root balancing, breathing serenely or remaining on my knees.

This is time for war.

The others in the class lift their arms and encircle their heads, breathing deeply and releasing all that stale energy from the depths of their bellies. I scramble backwards, inching my mat closer to the wall as Sergeant Centipede marches on, gunning for me, a triumphant trumpet protruding from his horny antennaed head. It’s not reveille I hear. It’s a battle cry. Ten-hut…. Charge!

I stifle a shriek. This is no longer yoga. It’s No-ga. As in, this is No Way to Namasté. I must escape. I must duck, bob and weave in order to stay out of Sherman’s March to the Seat of Lauren’s root chakra. I hazard a look around and nobody else has noticed Mr. Brow. Nobody. I am alone on this battlefield. But make no mistake. I will not concede. If the Brow don’t retreat, I must get on my feet.

Which I do. We move to our second position. I am still nowhere near grounded. Stepping on the ‘pede is not an option, because despite its aggressive actions, I have a personal policy of not harming nature as long as it doesn’t bite, sting or infect me with disease. And so far, so good.

As the instructor brings us onto our feet in a splayed leg stance, the transition to warrior pose is underway. I pray the Brow takes notice. This Yogan is not taking any shit from a hairy insect-like creature. Not today. Not ever. Discreetly, I lift my mat and drop it back down, hoping to thwart Brow’s advances. The effect is minimal. The thwop of the rectangular magic carpet merely garners mild attention from my neighboring yogalites, the Brow unconvinced to alter his intended warpath. Now the tiny trumpets blare louder, and I spy a skull and crossbones flag, the Jolly Roger waving side to side in his miniscule hands. Or feet. At this point, they’re all goosestepping so fast I can’t tell one appendage from the other.

The class lunges left, I inch right. With my feet pointed to the corners of my mat and my torso in a slight plié, I strike. I poise my right foot a là Karate Kid, Muwagi would certainly be proud of my balance. I prepare to toe-flick the charging eyebrow into oblivion. Lucky for the Brow, and everyone else, my feet are still encased in socks. I’m not one of *those* yoga students who flaunt their lower filanges. Feet are gross. Although come to think of it, that’s what this bugger deserved. To be flicked in the face with an angry, calloused big toe, to be pummeled with my piggies, uppercut with my underpedals. Kicked in his little eyebrow face with my little hammerhead podiatral protrusions.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m still lunging, still poised to strike. I flick. I falter. And I fall. He heads in the other direction. For one second. Then the multipedal mongrel resumes his encroachment. Until I flick again. And with one large burst from my lips, I blow on him afterwards for good measure.

It is then, and only then, he stills, perhaps stunned at my boldness. For the next forty minutes, he neither advances nor retreats. But don’t think for one moment I have achieved any sort of victory. I am still, after all, in a Core yoga class, and my instructor has no mercy. With one eye on the Brow the entire time, I work my core.

“We crunch, we twist, we bend and bow.

Maybe my breath has killed the poor eyebrow. “

Alas, I am wrong.

At the end of class, there is usually a seated pose or some sort of relaxation technique to allow our muscles to absorb what they’ve just learned. And usually, I choose child’s pose. But not tonight. No child’s pose, for this is no longer child’s play. This is all-out war, because the Satanic Brow has sprung back to life, defying all odds. It rears up, waving the flag with more determination than ever. Like Fred Flintstone gearing up for a marathon, the peddling of his hundred feet on the ground alerts me to his nearness, and he’s more determined than ever to mount my mat, and possibly, one of my limbs.

I Am So Outta here.

For all intents and purposes (translation: ouch), my class is over. I shuffle my mat and my sore core to the door, and silently tell the bug to namastay the hell away from me. And that, my friends, is the non-climactic and non-moral end to a very hairy story.

(And if you’re wondering how I know the eyebrow is a boy? Really? A girl eyebrow would have been tweezed… duh)

P.S. The next week, same class, there was neither an I nor an Eyebrow in yoga. But there was a spider, who wantonly walked her way across the ceiling at a very respectable distance. Dealing with 92 fewer legs? Zentastic.