I used to go to yoga all the time at this delectable little sanctuary of a studio near my old office. I’d meet up with my girlfriend, Christina, and after an hour and a half of chaturangas, downward dogs and a few pigeons, I’d feel like a new person. Like my chi had been drycleaned and all my charkas had been wiggled back into place. I loved yoga. Except when it came to partner work.
When Christina was there with me, it was fine. We’d spot each other for handstands, press one another into position, crack jokes back and forth. But I was certain that if I ever had to partner with a stranger, something catastrophic would happen. I’d drop them when they were kicking up into a handstand. I’d break wind in their face when they were spotting me. Or I’d accidentally make contact with a yucky mole when I was helping them into a deeper pose.
One night, Christina couldn’t go to class with me and, because my tranquilometer was all the way to zero, I decided to suck it up and go alone.
The studio was packed. One of the most popular teachers was there and I could only find one empty space on the floor for my mat. I sat down and began to stretch out my hammies, when a pair of long, white hairy legs caught my eye. I traced my gaze up them to find very short black nylon shorts cupping their bottom. And no shirt on the chest above.
Please don’t be on the mat next to me, I thought. But of course, the skinny short-shorts boy sat down immediately to my left. Employing my best deep breathing techniques, I reminded myself that I’d been to classes with that night’s teacher and he hadn’t done any partner work, so maybejustmaybe I’d be safe.
But I was in a zen den, and the whole law of attraction thing was vibrating in full force. Because I was afraid of the naked boy at my side, our teacher prompted the class to team up and help each other with backbends.
Oliver (Mr. Shortshorts) told me I could go first. I pressed my hands and heels into the mat and lifted up my torso, tickling the ground with my ponytail. I felt Oliver’s hands on my upper back, pulling me up further from the floor and when I looked forward at him, I came face to face with his nylon-clad crotch. I’m going to see the squirrel and his nuts, I thought for certain. But the shorts must’ve had built-in underwear because even at such close range, nothing so much as minimally peeked out at me to say hello. Thank. God.
When it was Oliver’s turn to do bridge pose, I glanced around and noticed that every other male in the class was wearing a t-shirt. Ah, my impeccable luck. I reached under his naked back, placing my hands on his shoulder blades and felt the moist residue of sweat coat my palms. How I wished for a bottle of Purrell.
The rest of the class was relatively uneventful. As usual, corpse pose almost put me to sleep and I felt completely rejuvenated when I rolled up my mat and gulped a shot of green tea on my way out the door. I would like to say that an evening of immersion therapy completely cured me of my fear of unfamiliar yoga partners, but it did not…and it may just be coincidence and the fact that Christina started going to another place across town, but I haven’t been back to class since.