August 15, 2011

Humble Yoga or Humbling Yoga: I’ll Take the Latter. ~Sara Young


Photo: Alain Picard

My project, 25 Days, is going to take me to 15 cities across the U.S. this year. I am in my second city, San Francisco. I will be doing yoga and riding my bike in each city. I will report to you on my adventures and misdemeanors here.

It is amazing to think that so many people can fit on such a small piece of property.  I have been in San Francisco for roughly 30 hours, and I have done and seen so much.

First of all, I got my bike rental at Blazing Saddles.  I chose the place because it is named after one of the best movies of all time. All time. It was quite the experience because as I was arranging for the rental, I noticed that many people there spoke with different accents. This is a huge change coming from homogeneous Portland. I asked the guy who fitted me for my bike what the big idea was and he told me that people come there and work for the summer from all over the world. I guess San Francisco is one of those cities where all kinds of people actually are welcome. As long as they leave at the end of the summer.

Photo: Pranjal Mahna

The bike from Blazing Saddles is lovely. I can tell it is constructed for people who don’t usually ride bikes, or, for that matter, ride bikes up hills. It is comfortable and easy to shift and brake.  It even has shocks. Sadly, the place where I am staying is very close to the highest point in San Francisco. Last night, after attending a Green Drinks event, I spent all of my energy attempting to pedal my heavy-ass-seven-speed-bike up the steepest hills in creation. I have decided that showering at night is probably best.

The Green Drinks event was a whole other culturally shocking experience.   While I assumed it was a meeting created to allow people from the sustainability industry to meet and network, it felt more like a rave.  The Gallery it was held in was packed full of incredibly beautiful and well-dressed people, and the DJ was playing dance music so loudly that we were all shouting at each other just to be heard. I showed up in my Portland finest, (read: Keens, cargo pants and a ripped up fleece), after having ridden my bike all day. I did not let this stop me from meeting people. The first guy I met was a fellow who helps women find true love. He told me that it is about confidence, looked me up and down, and said, “I can tell you don’t have a problem with that.” Incredibly perceptive. I met a myriad of other people, and one guy who was hoping to move back to Oregon. He was wearing a fleece.  He had a beard. We bonded immediately. He also agreed to take me on a trail run as his favorite place in San Francisco.

Then, this morning, I went to my first San Francisco yoga class. I got lost going there, which I expected, as I get lost going almost everywhere I ever go. I get lost so often in fact

Photo: Dustin J

that I have decided that it is officially “part of my charm”. So, I showed up at The Yoga Tree and was relieved to find that it was a laid-back kind of scene. Old jute rug on the floor, caddy-wampus cubbies on the wall, and a woman with a lullaby voice behind the counter, I knew I would be comfortable falling down here. I was a bit early, as I had not gotten as lost as I usually do, so I hung out and read about upcoming workshops while I waited. Soon enough, the doors to the studio opened and the students floated out.  I grabbed my bag and went into what turned out to be a very large and beautiful studio with a light blue sky mural painted across all of its walls. Tim, the yoga teacher came in and instructed us all to get into a comfortable seated position.

Tim is one of those yoga instructors with a calming and cheerful voice who lulls you into a false sense of security which he then yanks you out of at just the moment you have let go by asking you to contort your body into precariously ridiculous positions.  This is my favorite kind of yoga. This type of instruction sets up a silent dialogue in which the teacher is calmly, cheerfully asking me to do something impossible, to which I calmly and confidently reply that I can, and moreover, that the request does not bother me in the least.  This way, I am not only doing yoga, I am entertaining myself as well with witty internal dialogue. The best thing about this type of yoga is that it usually ends with me being bested by the yoga teacher at least three or four times before I am allowed to go into a half pigeon. Ah, yes, I love the feeling of being humbled while sweating profusely and trying to act cool. The very definition of good yoga.

So, here I sit in a small café on Waller and Cole in San Francisco as the speakers blare out the Dead Kennedy’s Kill the Poor, and I feel like I am home. Though, in this home, people seem to dress better and be much better looking than in the homes I am accustomed to living in.


Sara Young is a writer, artist, cyclist, amateur yogi, and avid poetry appreciator. Originally from Chicago, Illinois and most recently from Portland, Oregon, Sara is presently traveling the U.S. working on her project, 25 Days, in which she travels to 15 cities around the U.S. talking to people about their favorite places.  She hopes to bring about a more peaceful society through listening.


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