August 4, 2010

The Joe In All Of Us.

There was a yoga studio I worked at for a while last year where I got to know the regulars quite well. When you spend your time washing their towels and mopping up their sweat, it’s easy to make new friends. I knew a lot of people by name and would look forward to greeting their smiling faces as they came through the studio.

Let’s call one of these regulars “Joe”.

Joe was a young, urban professional who worked at a large technology company in the area. He came to yoga as a runner and an athlete and was obviously quite fit. However, every time Joe emerged from a yoga class, he didn’t have that euphoric “post-savasana glow”. Instead of coming out smiling, he would burst through the practice room doors and stand in the middle of the studio doubled over and panting loudly (the amount of sweat that pooled around him during these moments made me wince). It was glaringly obvious that he had just finished a good workout. 

I was not the only one to notice this phenomenon. I distinctly remember talking to a teacher one evening after she had taught a class that Joe had attended, and somehow his name came up. “Oh, him,” she said, rolling her eyes. “He’s a bit of a drama king.”

So – there it is. The judgment is revealed. Joe is a drama king.

Can I blame her for saying out loud something that I was thinking in my head? Joe is the type of guy who pushes beyond the limit; the yogi that starts grunting through a challenging core sequence when everyone else is lying in savasana. Yogi Joe is the guy who everyone can’t stop staring at during class because they don’t know whether to hate him or be wildly impressed. Obviously Joe has ego issues, obviously he has a need to show off, and obviously he’s doing yoga for all the wrong reasons. Right? 

I was thinking about Joe recently because I realized that there’s a little bit of Joe in all of us. Whether or not it is manifested in our yoga practice, there seems to exist a human desire to impress, to be the best, to push to the limit. It’s nice to be noticed, in one way or another. Yet it is for this very reason that we step onto the mat – to explore these feelings, to come to terms with them, and finally, to accept that perhaps remaining in child’s pose for the whole class after an exhausting day makes you the most impressive yogi in the room.

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