Searching for Manda Luba

I found myself with a child-free hour and a half today. Though my sinuses and lungs had been held hostage by flupocalypse 2013 for the better part of a week, I decided it was time to return to some semblance of wellness. And by ‘wellness’, I mean exercise.

Yes, I had not-so-secretly replaced my previous [somewhat] regular exercise habit with….nothingatall; relapsing to my former sedentary ways, where the cardiovascular highlight of my day consists of ascending the 10 steps from the basement to the main floor.

So, though I’d have rather sat in a coffee shop this morning with a latte and a muffin, I forced myself to go to yoga.

I entered the 9:30am class at the last possible minute, with little resolution and much trepidation; dreading the feel of my clogged sinuses and my out-of-shape limbs during the inevitable 1000 downward dogs that is part and parcel of a Vinyasa class. And fearing a reprise of the coughing fit that had assailed me in the Superstore the previous day as I mulled over the clearance cardigan options. Pink? Orange? Grey……..[Expel a small portion of my lung]….Pink. No Orange. Grey? [Cough like tuberculosis victim……feel like everyone in the store is staring at me.]

The yoga instructor, whom I’d never seen before, said ‘hello’ and when I returned her greeting, I noted she had what appeared to be cat-eyes. Drawn with eyeliner. I realize it makes me a terrible person, but in my mind, yoga instructors should not have cat-eyes.

My sickly, superstitious-self, wanted to leave tout de suite and drive to the coffee shop instead. Because clearly nothing good was going to come from a yoga class taught by a lady with cat-eyes. But my guilty-self felt it would look really weird if I exited the studio 30 seconds after entering it, with nary an explanation.

As is the story of my life, guilty-self won and I paid and placed my mat upon the plywood floor, taking some comfort in seeing three familiar faces among the other zen-seekers in the room: bald guy whose realtor-face is plastered on billboards and bus-stop-benches, sweatshirt guy who does yoga….in a sweatshirt, and grey-haired-glasses guy who does yoga in a sleeveless shirt, ostensibly to show off his arm muscles.

I’ve never spoken to any of them,  of course, but I feel like I kind of know them since we’ve done yoga in the same room. A time or forty.

The cat-lady began and, right away, I could tell this class was going to be a lot harder than my last one. (From six weeks ago.) She’d surveyed the class for requests and sweatshirt-guy, bless him, had said he wanted to do ‘long holds’. And, on that front, she delivered. Plank. Downward Dog. Plank. Downward Dog. Plank. Downward Dog. For what felt like hours, until my arms wobbled and my wrists threatened to disown me; causing me to cower exhaustedly in child’s pose.

‘Release Mula Bandha,’ she exhorted as if it meant something. Despite having endured my share of yoga-speak over the years  – what with all the –asanas and the sacrums – I had no clue who Mula was and how I was to release her. So I made a mental note to Google it when I got home. Except, shortly after I made my ‘note’, she told us to tether our sternums. And I was so distracted by the visual – because how on earth does one tether a sternum. Or did she say sacrum? – that I couldn’t remember the name of the ‘thing’ she’d told us to release. Which is how ‘Mula Bandha’ became Manda Luba. And all through class I laughed about my Manda Luba until I got home and Google told me I’d gotten it completely wrong.

Not only am I out of shape and getting older by the minute, I am now that person who makes up words because she can’t remember the real words. Not unlike the Gort who told me yesterday, ‘it was minus twenty eight on the windshield.’

‘You mean minus 28 with windchill?”

After turning my arms and everything else to jelly, it was time for ‘corpse pose’, aka shavasana. Having severed my lower back by prostrating myself on 2 small wooden rectangles, I was rather delighted at the prospect of spending three minutes lying on a cushiony bolster with my eyes closed and arms by my side.

But even in this, cat-eyes conspired against me. Just as I nestled into my bolster, the final song began playing on her ipod: Morning has Broken. To some this little ditty by Cat Stevens might be relaxing or inspiring, but not to me. All I could think was: music from my childhood! 1970s! strumming!

Make.it.stop.

This is my problem with music. Why I never listened to it when I was studying. Why I’d prefer to do yoga classes without the instructor’s playlist. (Like the sitar-laden music played by one of my favorite instructors, that makes me want to poke my eyes out. Or Bon Iver‘s Flume, which shows up on everyone’s playlist; causing me to roll my eyes whenever its unintelligible sounds fill the room.)

Because I can’t accept it as background noise. Instead, I fixate on it: the notes, the overly rhyming lyrics, negative associations, the interminableness of the sitar, and everything else – Manda Luba and corpse pose – fall by the wayside.

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