walking out of my yoga class, after going through my shavasana, which literally means “corpse pose” because that’s how deeply you’re supposed to be relaxing (not that i do, of course. i’m too busy debating baby names, going over grocery lists, and digesting recent events to actually relax too much. but, i relax probably as much as a geriatric person with sleep apnea whose heart maybe skips a beat now and then before it revs back into gear. know what i mean?), that awkward occurrence we’ve all experienced, well, occurred, where another lady and i happened to be keeping perfect pace with each other, walking in the same direction. well, i find the only way to break the awkward tension at times like that and to not seem like an utter douche bag is to turn to the person and make conversation. plus, i was feeling relaxed from the class, and, after all, this lady and i were on a journey together. a yogic journey. as classmates.
“how long have you been taking yoga?” i asked her. “this is my first class.” she said. she was an older woman with long, frizzy dyed-black hair. “me too,” i said, “our teacher is….interesting.” what i wanted to say was that she is a fruit loop. that is to say, a piece of processed cereal loaded with corn syrup and food dye and pumped full of vitamins, what’s known in the cereal business as “fortification”. or, more like, she had big, dewy eyes and looked at you like she could see something, some secret within you that maybe nobody else knew, but she really couldn’t. she said things like, “crying is healing” and talked at length about her foot reflexologist. “yeah, she is,” my walking pace twin said, a little too admiringly. clearly, she did not share my view of our teacher’s hokiness level. i moved on to a different topic. “so, why did you decide to start taking yoga?” i asked. “personal interest,” she replied, a little too sterile. she was trying to keep her distance. that was my cue to launch into a really personal narrative, my gut reaction any time someone tries to distance me. any psychologists out there wanna take a whack at that? no? i don’t blame you. i wouldn’t wanna touch myself with a ten foot pole if i were you either.
“well, i’m pregnant and i’m hoping that i’ll learn some valuable techniques for breathing and relaxation during labor, because last time, with my daughter, i had everything done. i was induced, had pain medication, and an epidural. you see, i’ve got anxiety issues and i just freak myself out, so, ideally, this time, i can try and do it naturally with the right mental exercises.” at my slew of personal info, she seemed to relax a bit. “my daughter-in-law was all into the natural thing, but when she actually went into labor, she was like, ‘give me everything!’ now, me, i had one naturally.” “good for you,” i said, “i wish i could do that. the first time, i don’t think i was mentally prepared for the intensity of the pain. i mean, it’s intense.” “it is,” she said. “but this time, i think, now that i know what it’s like, i can better prepare myself for dealing with it. but then, i’m always worried that something is going to go wrong, you know?” she was really warming up now. “well, i think it’s more mental than anything. if you tense up, you make it more painful and you work against the process.” “i know,” i said. that would be my life in summation. my anxiety working against the flow of the universe. we were out in the parking lot. “well, here’s my car,” she said, “congratulations, by the way.” “thanks,” i said and walked to my own car, still feeling relaxed from the yoga and validated by this random stranger. i dunno what it is, but there is something so calming about unloading a lot of personal stuff onto a complete stranger. do you do this? i recommend it.
maybe, if i felt myself going into labor, i could do a bunch of yoga right away before going to the hospital so i could start off as relaxed as i felt right then. and maybe bring along my yoga buddy to tell more personal info to. that would surely keep my nerves at bay. i could tell her all about my childhood and family dynamics the whole time i was in labor. by the time the baby was out, we’d be best friends. greg wouldn’t mind too much, i don’t think.