where to find your breath

First, remove city clothes. Jacket. Scarf. Jeans. Shirts. Socks. Breathe.

Look at clock. It is early. You are early. Aren’t you always early. Grab borrowed mat and walk back downstairs. Choose position. Toward back and to the left. You always tend to take this spot. Fold knees and stretch bones a little. Breathe.

The people start arriving. Teacher introduces himself to you. He is a he. Tall and soft. You notice the others. Older and younger. Curved and skinny. You are surrounded. A cocoon of stretchers. Breathe.

The music begins and it’s not moans or harmonium hums. You notice this track from the radio. When class begins, the pop songs twist into something more traditional and the elongation of body / mind has begun. Breathe.

He tells you to hold this position and look in front of you. You notice. You notice the woman right in front of you with sheer leggings and thong and you feel dirty and like an impostor and everyone else is in the moment of their bodies and you…you are mesmerized by the body of this other. You don’t belong here. Breathe.

You are a warrior amidst the dirty thoughts swirling in your mind and there is no room for a hard-on in yoga class. Cut it out. Twist to the other side. Blur your eyes. Do not look. Practice mindfulness. Practice restraint. Breathe.

You are getting warmer. From inside the sweat, find anguish, wrung out. Find sadness. The grey. The longing. The mourn. Downward dog into plank pose and you are hardening. That is called strength. That is called resilience. This is the time you often get weepy. Allow whatever surfaces to color your thoughts. You are yellow. You are burnt orange. You are lime-green. You are charcoal. Breathe.

The lights are going to sleep now and it is darker. He instructs you to lay your body down, slowly. With intention. Palms up to the sun that waits for you outside behind night sky. Let bones rest into the earth beneath the concrete and brick and subways and filth. The soil exists beneath all of this. You are soil. You are of this earth. Breathe.

You want to cry now because you have slowed down your day enough to do this. To take your body out, remove its layers, be vulnerable amidst other mindful humans. You’ve let go of worrying about being one of them. You are not wearing the same costume as them, but beneath the cotton you are all the same. Just skin. Skeleton. Construction of bones. The woman in front of you is flat on her back and her exposed panties are hidden. You forgive yourself for your dirty thoughts, stained only by your own self-judgement. He instructs you to slowly move to your right side and then lift your body up into a sitting pose. Palms up once again. Eyes remain closed, watching the darkness within yourself. The rooms. The memories. The flashes of time clocked inside your limbs. You chant and notice the extra room in your lungs. You bow to the earth, to him, to the woman, to the others who shared this space with you. You bow to your body that is weakened but holding on to strength in this moment. You bow to this space. You let go. Breathe.

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