Monday, January 2, 2012

Beijing, yoga, 6 a.m.

View from studio window, Beijing Marriott City Wall, 2011

The first thing that has to happen is to find the gym attendant and beg her to turn off the music. Realize that perhaps "turn off" is not the right phrase.  Try "cancel" and "extinguish." Experiment with placing hands over ears, finger to lips. Finally, See recognition in her eyes: Oh, so this is the one American who does not prefer 80s techno-pop during workouts.

Follow her to the key closet, down a long haul to the tiny studio space, and watch her unlock yet another door. The music, blessedly, stops. Put hands together in prayer and say "namaste" to her when she emerges. Be glad she doesn't laugh.

The next thing is to roll out the beat-up mat and take a place on it. Look out the window. Okay, this is different. Laundry drying on three different lines, all of it uniformly grey, one of those three-wheel aluminum foil mobiles parked next to a hut, a skyline swooping with pagodas.

Take a breath. Take another. Have no idea what to do next, so ask for help.

And, miraculously, receive it, from the teachers I've been following. Jeffrey asks for Sun A, Paula demands too many Sun Bs. Do them anyway. Moya has a great new idea for triangle, twisting triangle, triangle on toast. Here is Myra, asking for the longest-ever utkatasana and then asking for a lift at the corners of the mouth, too.

Keep moving. Each time you greet another day in this disorienting place and time, know that there is one thing to do. Pick up the mat and take the elevator to the studio. Then start by convincing today's attendant that the music really, really needs to be turned off.


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