A Yogi in Aruba, Part One

Posted by Steven Russell on Friday, April 1, 2016

clientuploads/StevenAruba1.jpgIt's Friday the Thirteenth, and my first morning in Aruba. I saw on the board last night when we got to the hotel that there was a yoga class at 8 this morning. That's 7 New Jersey time. I haven't done yoga that early in the morning in years. But I'm on vacation, so I get up at 7:30 and start walking around the beach area near all the hotels near mine. I don't have a mat. The class is on a patch of grass near the beach. At about 7:50 I pass by the place and see a young woman sitting on a yoga mat on the grassy patch surrounded by bushes and small trees. I go around to the opening and step onto the grass. She sees me and gives me a sort of pained look, as if to say, "What are you doing on my lawn?" I ask her if this is the yoga place. She says, "Yes," and I take one of the four mats sitting by the opening and roll it out near her.  It's very windy, and I have a hard time hearing what she is saying, but I do clearly understand, "You're really early." I guess she's not used to anyone coming to her grass class before 8. People who come here must always be in vacation mode. I take advantage of our alone time and find out that she teaches at a studio about a five minute walk from the hotel. Her favorite class there is Hot Hatha, something like Bikram. She asks if I have any experience doing yoga.  I say, "Yes." That's all she needs to know. Three women show up just in time for class. She tells us that the class will be gentle. 

Turns out she likes Ashtanga, and leads us through most of the first series. Ashtanga Yoga is what I'd call a rather aggressive form of the practice. My experience with the first series is that it's a lot of forward bends that my tight male hips and legs find extremely challenging. Women don't seem to have much trouble with those, so I set myself up for a rather painful time. I do ok with most of the moves, even though I think I can hear my muscles creaking. I hope the wind rushing through the palm trees covers it. The women and the teacher don't seem to be looking my way at all. I'm safe.

I do happen to notice that the teacher and I are the only ones who get up and balance on one leg in Bird of Paradise, a rather difficult pose, especially on the uneven grass. I try not to look smug as I glance at the limber thirty-something women as they fumble around on the grass, looking as if they are trying to scratch their back upper leg with both hands, trying to get into the pose. Fair is fair. They probably saw me in not too few awkward moments as well.

I have never been happier than I am now to end the class in Sivasana, that quiet, lie down and pretend you're dead pose at the end of class. Well, dead except for the bug that flew up my nose and got stuck halfway down the back of  my throat. The teacher must think I'm convulsing. That's a sensation I can't quite describe.

This class will be given three more times while I'm here. I'm not sure if I will go. It depends on what time we all agree to go to breakfast. I guess I'm now officially in vacation mode. 

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