Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Yoga Crimes.

In the dream, my yoga mat has disappeared and the studio has transformed into something that looks like a community rec center under renovation. I search the cubbies where mats are stored, but cannot find my name among the labels. Everything has been moved around. Finally, I spot it—but instead of my mat, I see a note written in fine red marker that directs me elsewhere, punctuated with "Sorry!"

In a general storage area underneath a staircase, I finally locate my mat. It is crumpled in a heap of others. When I pull it out, it is covered with fingerpaint and glitter: canvas for some kind of children's art project. Unacceptable!

I take the mat to the front desk, which happens to be at a wooden art table. "I'm sorry that happened," the desk attendant says after I show her the damage. The owner of the studio happens to be standing right there. "Creativity workshop," she stage whispers to the attendant, indicating that my compensation for the lost mat should be a free pass to an event that will surely involve the verb "journaling" and more of what is scattered all over my defaced yoga mat.

"No!" I rush to object. "No creativity workshop. I want a new mat." The dream ends before a resolution, but the feeling is that I will not get my way.

You are probably thinking, "Wow. I mean, really Christina? You're that bougie and neurotic that you're actually having an anxiety dream about yoga?"

Yes. Any other questions?

In real life, the Dupont Circle yoga studio that I frequent does have nice wooden cubbies with our names printed underneath them. The studio offers many small comforts (skylights, good teachers, Life Savers peppermints, nice smells, tea), but this particular one had gone unappreciated by me: When was the last time you had a cubby? A place with your name on it in a communal space that is safe enough to leave open, a place for your things, and your things only?

The last time for me was Seven Locks Elementary School. Mine was a double classroom that held three grades at once and was divided for organizational purposes into two colors: Blue and Green. Blue cubbies were on one side of the room, Green on the other. The cubbies smelled of laminated wood and books and pencil lead and erasers and sandwich bread and vinyl binders.

A cubby.

Lately the studio has gotten crowded, and the staff has resorted to using the very top of the two cubby units as storage space. So the people who joined late didn't get a cubby, they just got essentially a surface with their name under it. What will they do? I thought when I saw the storage issue. It is a small area, there is no room to add cubbies. My cubby space became more precious in my mind.

Then one day I come into the studio, retrieve my mat from my cubby, walk into class, unfurl it and... wait. It was a reversible mat, and it unfurled to the wrong side. Someone had used it. Someone had invaded the sanctity of my cubby.

I spent more of the next hour than I would like to admit poring over this situation in my mind. Who would do such a thing? When there are mats freely available to rent from the studio? Did they know they were doing something wrong, or did they somehow think it was OK? Weren't they worried that I would show up for the same class, find my mat missing, and catch them? Could the culprit be right there in class with me, on some other poor sap's mat?

But then, isn't the point of yoga to let stuff like this go? Inhale. I mean, who cares if someone used my mat? Exhale. Isn't the concept of owning a mat, having a cubby, just an illusion I cling to for security? Inhale. Because really, we don't own anything. Exhale. Everything is impermanent. Let it go.

What cooties did they deposit on my mat? How long has this been happening? Was it just once, or is it a repeat offender? Did they use just the other side, hoping I would not notice, or have both sides been used? WHY WOULD SOMEONE DO THIS?

Square your hips. Elongate your spine. Reach out through your fingertips. Twist deeper. Just fold.

What could the studio have done to prevent this? Nothing really that I can think of. I vaguely remembered seeing in one of the studio's e-newsletters something about a problem with people using others' mats and to make sure that your name was written on your mat. But that's dumb. I mean obviously it's my mat. It's sitting in my cubby. Somehow my affinity with revisiting elementary school ends at the point where I need to label my belongings.

Lokah samasta sukhino bhavantu. OmNamaste.

At the front desk, the attendant is apologetic and hapless. "We are suggesting that everyone write their name on their mat. There is a marker hanging over there on the wall," he says. I thank him and trudge over to the marker hanging at the end of a string. The ink is appealingly silver and shiny, but I still don't want to use it. My initials gleam over the blue on the underside of the mat. I roll it just so, leaving the initials facing out of the cubby's edge.




It seems like my mat is usually untouched when I pick it up these days, but I have sort of let go of the idea that I am the only one using it. Om. Except that after labeling, I had the dream described above.

I know. I am ridiculous.

So I reveal this for your entertainment. But also to ask: What are your memories of cubbies?

Music: "Shanghai Drive" (no point really, just a sort of dreamy, disconnected-esque piece from Thomas Newman I like that seems to fit here)

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