The Tragic Optimist

the power of yoga

I realized I haven’t posted about the yoga class I’ve been taking for the past few weeks.  First off, it’s a great class – the instructor is kind and good at explaining things and manages to help a class with a wide range of experience.  The other students don’t take it overly seriously, and there are no overly-flexible, skinny-hipped, tiny little things to make me feel all clumsy and self-conscious.  Plus it’s a community ed class, so cheap, but taught at the local high school.  We have our class in what appears to have been a social studies classroom.  I would amuse myself at times during class by glancing at the lesson plan on the chalkboard (“10:00 – 10:20: boring lecture”).  When you’re doing a balancing pose, you’re supposed to find a focal point, and inevitably, I found myself focusing on scrawlings on the board of who currently loved this person or the other.  Our instructor always apologizes for the setting, the noise from the other community ed classes (last night, we could focus on the yoga, or try to overhear the film in the next room on heart attacks.  It was relaxing), the dripping ceiling, the desks that we try not to hit with our arms when we’re stretching.  But I love it.  I think it’s a great way to practice being in the moment and being able to find center and focus amidst whatever comes your way.  And I’ve always found yoga more satisfying when I find things that amuse me during practice and being in a high school classroom offers all sorts of opportunities.

My biggest chance to practice the focus and centering, though, came last week.  I was running ahead of schedule before class, so stopped at a grocery store to pick up something to drink and ended up also picking up grocery store sushi – just veggie rolls.  Something about yoga makes me crave little vegetable rolls, they just feel so perfect right after practice.  They feel clean and healthy and filling.  So after the class finished, I headed to my car, opened the little packet of sushi and drove off.  It was late, and dark, but the rolls were easy to pick up with my fingers, it wasn’t like I needed to see them.  I popped the third little piece into my mouth and slowly realized that this piece had been sitting next to that little pile of wasabi that always comes with grocery store sushi.  But it didn’t just have a little bit on the side, no, that whole blob of wasabi had been stuck to the piece, and I had just bitten into it.  I tried to remember to breathe.  My mouth was burning.  Focus, I told myself, focus on one thing, like not running into those parked cars.  I swallowed everything and instantly regretted it.  Go to your happy, relaxing place.  Find your center.  Don’t hit that car in front of you.  My eyes were watering.  Oh my god, the wasabi burn is filling up my sinuses!  I really quickly downed a couple more pieces to dilute the burn.  And then it was better.  Not great.  But I’d survived.  And had clear sinuses for the rest of the night.  See?  Yoga can get you through nearly anything.



  1. This is great! 😀

    I’ve discovered that it doesn’t matter where I am for yoga. Half of last year it was in random business conference room. It was the only space my instructor could find to continue her classes until she found a better space to rent. Anyway, it is so true. If we look within ourselves during our practice, any distractions can be avoided.

    As for the wasabi..yikes. Sounds like you handled the distraction well.

  2. Danya

    I feel the same way about our yoga classroom! I think it’s good practice to be among the dusty chalk, the dirty floor, the loudspeaker interruptions, and still find some peace.

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