The girl in front of me is heaving forward in stretch pants and a sports bra, running through a quick vinyasa before class. (If you’ve never practiced yoga, a vinyasa is a sequence of poses that essentially amounts to doing “the worm” backwards, in slow-motion.) As she glides into upward dog — butt down, chest out — I can’t help noticing a sizable tattoo on the small of her back. I think it says “mom,” but don’t want to peer any closer as she’s now lifting her back end into the air. I look around the room and see close to a dozen women, bright and friendly, conversing with each other about their St. Patrick’s Day plans.
I am the only man in the studio. I am silent, seated Indian-style on a rented mat. My oversized Lake Huron t-shirt and basketball shorts are a sharp contrast to the tight-fitting Lululemon Athletica yoga gear stretched over the lanky bodies around me. My wife senses my discomfort. She says “There were other guys in here last week, I swear.” I look at her solemnly. She’s not wearing her wedding ring — I’m sporting mine dutifully as always. I imagine everyone sees this and thinks she is my mistress. Or worse: that I’ve come here to acquire a mistress. Or much worse: that I’m just here to fill up the ol’ spank bank.
No one thinks any of these things. A cheerful blond remarks that it’s cute I’m giving yoga a try and I say something weird about how I wish they didn’t make me take my socks off. My wife picks up the conversation from there. Now folded at the knees, the girl with the “mom” tattoo is staring back in my direction. We make eye contact and I want to tell her that even though her current position allows me an ample view of her bosom, I am not looking — also that I’m really sorry about my mustache, but I haven’t had a chance to shave since Wednesday…
The instructor walks in and says Namaste before any of this can come to pass. She’s wearing one of those microphone headsets like the guy from the ShamWow commercials and her voice seems to fill the room. She tells us all Happy St. Patrick’s Day, then makes a flimsy segue about how green is the color of energy and that’s what yoga is all about — our inner-energy. I try and shoot my wife a cockeyed smirk but, much to my chagrin, she’s actually paying attention. I decide that since I have virtually no idea what’s about to happen, I should probably do the same.
Fifteen minutes later, sweat is pouring down my face as I’m attempting a flying crow pose. The girl with the “mom” tattoo is fully balanced on two hands, her legs curled up on the tops of her elbows. My wife is almost there. I’ve just knocked over a bottled water next to my mat and the yoga instructor is whispering to me, gently, to try and block out all external distractions. She places her hands on my slick bare feet — her fingers curled over a hideous scar I got years ago from stepping on a jagged piece of metal in a dirty lake. I’m mortified. I turn to apologize and she tells me to face my mat. She helps set me into position, my arms shake and again I fall. We try again.
By the end of the 75-minute session, my t-shirt and shorts are completely drenched. I’m exhausted — so much so that I don’t even question chanting ohms over and over. “AAAHHH-OOOHHH-MMMMMM.” My baritone is flat. “AAAHHH-OOOHHH-MMMMMM.” I sound like Butthead. “AAAHHH-OOOHHH-MMMMMM.” Does the tattoo mean she is a mom? “AAAHHH-OOOHHH-MMMMMM.” Or maybe it’s to commemorate her mom? “AAAHHH-OOOHHH-MMMMMM.” Seems like an odd spot for either sentiment…
After the ohms, the instructor tells us all about an upcoming festival featuring “live jams” and demonstrations from some world-renowned yogis. I can practically smell the patchouli. She passes out a couple of fliers, bids the room Namaste and we’re free to leave. I hose down my rental mat with an unmarked bottle of cleaning spray, then stand awkwardly in the hallway as my wife changes in the bathroom. I would kill for a dry t-shirt and am considering buying one with the yoga studio’s name on it when I notice a mustachioed man in his 40s arriving for the next session.
When my wife emerges from the bathroom, I urge her to “Check out the creeper.”