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Thoughts I Had While Trying To Do Vrksasana (Tree Pose) In Yoga Class

Original illustrations by Al Najjar.

Breathe in. Begin in tadasana, the mountain pose. Do not think about the misappropriation of yoga for suburban housewives. Breathe out. Maybe this is not the time to feel guilty about how you don’t know anything about the spiritual and sacred origins of this practice. Does this white lady teaching it know anything? Would that make it better? I just need a few seconds a week when my brain is not in total chaos. Breathe in. And out. Excellent. You are excellent. Shift weight to the left foot. Which one is my left? Okay, it’s this one. Slowly bring the right foot up and hold the ankle. Place your right heel into the crotch, above the knee. Nice. Why did my mom call to ask if I want a genealogy test for Christmas? Hands on hips, relax. I can’t believe I agreed to pick up that shift on Saturday, I have no life. Press palms together, not that hard. Dammit, my feet are so narrow, how the hell do people do this? Don’t think about your ex-girlfriend. She’s gone, it’s over. Okay, try again. Left foot planted, right foot up, remember to breathe, heel in the crotch. Don’t fart. Palms together. I haven’t written anything in ages. Don’t get down on yourself. Okay, find a point to look at. Nope, don’t look at your reflection, you don’t want to be caught gazing into your own eyes. Why are mirrors necessary for yoga? Breathe out. I look amazing in these leggings. Eat your hearts out, old white lesbians behind me. Getting fucked from behind last night was amazing. Focus on a point, focus on that point—ouch, no, not the bright-white light bulb above it. Deep breath. You are great at this, you look amazing. My left leg is burning, oh my god, this hurts. Breathe into the lactic acid. Think of something else. Maybe Shannon will let me borrow her car so I can go grocery shopping. I miss my mom. It feels dishonest to write when I don’t feel like it, it takes away from the actual joy of creating things. Excuses. Jesus, Kijin, be nicer to yourself. Maybe I’m not a creative person; maybe I just wanted to be one because my ex-girlfriend is an artist and her whole family are artists, and I wanted to belong somewhere, and I didn’t want to die. I wasn’t built for that world, where people love and respect each other and encourage creativity and self-expression with paints and a studio and Trader Joe’s snacks anytime you want. Deep breath. Focus on a point. And breathe out. She’s gone, and now every time I hear someone talk about “negative space” or “art practice,” I panic. Okay, stop thinking about that. Deep breath. Close your eyes. Wait, don’t do that, you’ll fall over. Focus on a point, ouch, watch the light. I love my mom but, holy shit, I’m scared of her. Every time she calls my heart starts pounding and it’s like I’m four years old and broke a vase by accident, and she’s so mad, and it doesn’t matter that it was an accident: I should have known better and what’s wrong with me, now twenty years later I have to explain to a grown woman why a genealogy test is not something I want for Christmas not just because it’s a shitty gift but also because it’s racist to assume we are all Black because we all came from Africa, not that she’s ever really understood what it’s like to be mixed race and oh man, I miss her so much. I’m never going home again.

Okay, try again. Left foot planted, right foot up, remember to breathe…

Now we’re supposed to put our hands over our heads? No way, I’m staying here. Yoga is stupid. No, it’s not. It’s complicated. Relax. Love yourself. Don’t think about yoga as a misappropriated spiritual practice. Did he text me back? Think about his perfect lips. No, stop doing that. Focus. Keep your knee bent. Now hold this position forever. Deep breaths, in and out. Is that application due this Friday or next Friday? Oh god, what was that noise I just made. Don’t whimper, just breathe, full throated, through the nose, all that delicious air. In. Out. In. Out. Jesus, how long do I have to hold this?

And down. Now, for the left foot.

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