“Oh yeah, bet she is.” My answer came without hesitation, although I had no idea where Nancy was, and even less idea what folk festival he was talking about. I seemed to choke on the words I don’t know.
More importantly, a sub was filling in for Nancy. I’d taken class from Banu before. She was a terrific teacher, but there was something unnerving about a sub, even someone you liked. The appearance of a substitute teacher carried a hint of suspicion that the regular teacher was the victim of foul play, and the sub was involved. Inevitably she’d also compound the crime by changing our routine.
I rolled out my mat in the back row and folded a wool blanket to sit on, scratchy even through my tights. Banu began with our usual lesson about yoga principles. Today, letting go of attachments. Yeah, non-attachment, I knew all about it. Let’s get moving.
Following her instruction I positioned myself at the front of my mat, ready for action, the batter in a batting cage. Banu tossed out the names of familiar poses, and muscle memory took over. Standing forward bend. Lunge. Downward facing Dog. Nothing to worry about.
Balance poses threw me off. I wobbled; I fell. My confidence cracked. And then we were sitting and rocking the baby. Do not be fooled by the sweet sounding name. Banu encouraged us toward astavakrasana––what the hell was that? By the time I comprehended left foot forward, she’d moved on to right foot over your shoulder. Irritation as well as effort started to heat up the room; I wanted to asta her vakrasana. I hadn’t learned the poses she was directing me into. It didn’t pay to get distracted, because the pitching machine sped up, zinging inversion and handstand and headstand and elbow-stand and pinkie-stand at 90mph. I swung wildly and missed every one.
I had to duck, collapsed into child’s pose. It was supposed to be a resting pose, but you can’t rest when you’re mad. Mad. It shocked me, but couldn’t be denied. Self-righteous. I couldn’t let go of the feeling that something had been stolen from me. A downdraft from the fans cooled my sweaty skin.
Couldn’t let go?
Something else lurked behind my outrage. A week before I’d known what I was doing. Not the case in Banu’s class. The unfamiliar routine had deprived me of competence.
Some people enjoyed learning new yoga poses, but in my playbook, I don’t know must always be conquered. I was attached to knowing.
So here’s to Banu: a terrific teacher.
A Joyful Cold