“Anisha?” I whispered from the top of the stairs in the humid, low-lit yoga studio.
A young woman in purple stood a few feet in front of me facing the opposite wall—she looked exactly like my friend Anisha from behind. I cradled my green mat that was tied with scraps of an old sheet because I didn’t feel like buying a fancy strap for a new hobby.
The woman in purple did not turn around.
“Anisha?” I asked again, softly, feeling awkward because another woman sitting on the bench at the entryway was staring at me.
“Is that Anisha?” I mouthed to the seated woman, even though she didn’t know who the hell Anisha was.
The woman in purple must have sensed the awkwardness filling the room because she glanced over her shoulder and saw me looking at her, expectant. Not the right face. Not Anisha. Not my friend. God.
“Sorry,” I said as I held my hands up to the woman in purple, “you look exactly like my friend Anisha from behind.” She barely smiled and I slinked to the check-in counter to give my name.
Not a great way to start the class.
A deep disappointment sunk into my stomach, and not only because I felt like an idiot. I didn’t realize before, but I wanted a friend with me here in this new space. The studio where the instructor asked us to shape our bodies into odd poses with names like “pigeon” and “happy baby.” (OK, I loved happy baby). To a newcomer, the studio felt like a lavender-infused funeral: Stern-faced patrons sat crossed-legged on their mats, barefoot, aligning heads over hearts, ready to fucking breathe.
Then I reminded myself to stay vulnerable, that it was OK to put myself out there, and as I rolled out my mat on the floor I smiled at the person next to me. She returned the grin. I felt a little better.
I had been wanting to try yoga for years, since I had taken one class with an ex-boyfriend and felt great for days afterward. But I didn’t know what downward dog or shavasana meant, or how the hell to flow. I still barely do. Yoga scared me, so I avoided it.
And then, in November, I quit my job. I had all this extra free time and extra anxiety at suddenly having nowhere to be, so I committed to a one-month trial. The studio was a 5-minute walk from my apartment and my friend Erin came with me to the first class or I probably never would have gone.
Now I’m wondering why I waited so long to try yoga.
Ah, yes, because I make a fool of myself at least once per class. And it is a little woo-woo for me, like the talk of root chakras and all that. But overall, the instructors have been understanding and the fellow yoga-doers (is that what we call it?) don’t appear to pay attention when my leg is straightened when it’s supposed to be bent. I am trying to embrace the concept that it is “my practice,” as they say. This is for me. And it feels fantastic to do things for me, even if I am one step closer to becoming a bona fide yuppie.
Now as long as I can avoid that Anisha lookalike for the rest of time, I’m good.
Until next time,