Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016 @ 4:45 pm
I arrive at the downtown studio early, lock away my jacket and boots and head upstairs to the cedar sauna. I'm alone in the hot dim room, fragrant cedar surrounding me as I begin to stretch out my body in preparation for class. The veins on my arms begin to dilate and protrude in firm rivers of grey across my dampening skin.
The class has a new teacher, and I can't stop staring at how she moves through the flows. Her strength, her agility, her curves so incredibly attractive, and her face flushed and cheerful. I want to be able to move like her, to have that graceful strength.
Towards the end of the class she has us partner with a friend. Friend? I go to these things alone. Everyone does. I am still facing downwards from the previous sequence, and I quickly think about who is around me. The most logical person to partner with is the guy beside me - the tall, lean, blonde, muscular, Nordic-looking guy with no shirt and baggy shorts hanging from his hips. I become suddenly away of the sweat on my arms.
I glance his way.
He is glancing my way.
I crawl to his mat and extend my hand. I'm Shannon. Guy, he replies. I'll come to your mat, he says, gesturing towards the puddles of sweat that have accumulated around his.
He sits on the end of my mat, and we face each other on our knees. She has us fasten our hands together and alternately stretch each other from the shoulder to wrist. His skin is soft and damp, and his arm slips slightly though my hands.
The intimacy of the moment. I don't remember the last time that I touched a man other than Daniel. This man feels different from Daniel, and the quiet of the studio and the thumping of my heart. This man is infinitely attractive, the kind of man that I'd never imagined myself engaging with, never mind holding his hands in an intimate sweaty stretch. And to show myself to him, my skin hugging yoga clothes, my veins protruding from my muscled arms, my hair falling out of a high bun, the thin wash of sweat across my body.
I stay for a while after class meditating, waiting for everyone to pack up and leave so that I can leave quietly, without fuss, to maintain my yoga high. I do not see Guy again.
I travel home. As I exit the train, I glance back and I see her, the yoga teacher, her face still flushed and rosy but with an expression of anxiety that comes along with riding rapid transit.
In the studio, we are free. Free from the world, from judgement of others, from judgement of ourselves. I experiment with my body, and sometimes it surprises me, and at other times it pushes back and I must release my goals from my mind and focus on my heart and the moment and acceptance of myself.
The smell of cedar lingers on my skin.
Winter light lays thin across the city.
My heart opens and birds are pouring from my chest, flocking into the sky and flying east.
This city. My heart. This winter. My skin.