She sat on a Bosu ball, feet an inch or so off the ground, and I waited for her to topple over. But it never came to that. The instructor’s balance and poise were on the mark and as she moved the ball to the side and unrolled her mat, signaling for the class to stretch out in the downward-facing-dog pose, it reminded me of why I signed up for this yoga class in the first place. I walked like a rhinoceros in an antique show room and at five feet, three inches tall, and 175 pounds, I couldn’t even walk with confidence.
One of my girlfriends, Ana, told me that yoga would make me more graceful and also help me lose that “unattractive belly pooch”. I had struggled with my weight since middle school. I was never fat, but there always seemed to be a little more of me throughout my abdomen than I would like to see.
Ana, on the other hand, did yoga every other morning before work. She also ate a high protein, low carb diet. She was also dating the cliché tall, dark, and handsome man who brought her flowers each time he showed up on her doorstep to take her out to a fancy, expensive restaurant. Ana lived the life that every woman supposedly dreamed of.
“Kate.” She would say my name like a statement, and continue talking without waiting for me to answer. “Kate, you should really come to yoga with me. I really think it would do a lot for your self confidence”. Sometimes I wondered if ditching our friendship would do a lot for my self-confidence. Ana was in the row of yoga mats in front of me, her perfect butt pointed straight up in the air in the downward-facing-dog position. She might’ve looked even more perfect than the instructor. When I was in this position, I felt my rolls push against each other.
I watched Ana move to child’s pose, knees and elbows together on the mat with her head resting on her forearms. Her straight blonde hair tumbled over her head and onto the floor, like threads of yellow silk flowing from the loom. I struggled to move seamlessly into this pose like her, but fell to my knees instead. I laughed to myself, thinking of how my last relationship failed because I refused to do that. No, it wasn’t just that. He was an alcoholic and I gained ten pounds over the five months that we dated. It hadn’t exactly been a recipe for success. I’m twenty-five, I thought. It’s time to stop screwing around with these losers. I smiled again at my mental pun on “screwing”.
“Okay ladies, stand up, breathe in and then stretch your arms up to the ceiling as you draw in a big breath. As you breathe out, slowly bring your arms back to your sides. Again.” The instructor’s soothing voice broke through my mental image of a parade of losers marching through my life. Ana’s lean arms moved up and down, slowly and gracefully, almost mirroring those of the instructor, and I was sure her lungs were expanding and contracting in perfect rhythm. I caught myself taking short breaths, in and out, while my chubby arms flapped up and down. I can’t even breathe when someone tells me to, I thought.
“That’s your problem, Kate. Always doing what other people tell you.” My mind wandered, remembering how Ana said that to me at least once a week, especially in regards to my job at the accounting firm. My boss was constantly asking me to take on extra tasks and help him on bigger projects. I took it to mean he felt like he could rely on me; Ana believed I was a push over. We had argued about it just the day before.
“Just because I try to be agreeable with my boss and get my work done does not mean I’m a doormat, okay? I have limits you know.” I tried for a counter-argument.
“Limits?” Her eyes would grow wide. “That’s not what your last boyfriend told me…”
She always made me out to be the slut, and half the time whatever was said wasn’t even true. One thing I’ve learned from dating jerks is that jerks like to brag.
“On your mats, please!” I came out of my reverie, just in time to notice that the rest of the class was sitting on their mat while I was still standing, arms over my head. I felt warmth radiate from my cheeks and knew that my pale skin must be scarlet. I sat on my mat quickly.
“Very good ladies, think of this as a makeover for both your body and your mind!” the instructor smiled at her encouragement.
I could do that. I had always liked makeover shows on TV. I guess they were a guilty pleasure of mine. It didn’t matter how plain a girl was; She always looked like a movie star by the end. Even the big girls that they had on the show came out looking like they had lost ten to thirty pounds, just by wearing the right clothes. Sometimes I wished that I could go on one of those shows. Then maybe I’d find myself a guy who didn’t hibernate in bars from Thursday to Sunday morning; or maybe even one who knew how to make a girl feel special.
“KATE, will you please just pay attention?”
Ana’s shriek pulled the e-brake on my daydream and jolted me into the realization that all the other women had somehow dislocated their hips and had their feet behind their heads. “Kate, you need to keep up. Don’t make me regret inviting you.”
“Ana,” I stood up as I said her name, like a statement, “I love you, but I’m out.” I left my yoga mat behind, walked to the back of the room where my coat hung on a peg, and left. As I got into my car, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, but I felt like I just needed a pair of cute jeans.