One thing I love about my daytime yoga classes is that there aren't too many younger, single, straight men there. Whenever one appears, I find myself immensely distracted by his presence.
This is due in part to my status as a SAHM. We SAHMs don't see a lot of men during the day. If we are having a day filled almost entirely with school drop-off/grocery store/pediatrician/playground visits, we can go for hours without seeing a man, except perhaps the guy slouched in front of QFC shaking a paper cup of coins. Anyone who has flung open the front door to greet the UPS carrier and felt a small, giddy rush of adrenaline at being in the presence of A MAN, for God's sake, knows what I mean.
Still, in yoga class, it is nice to be without that particular adrenaline rush. I enjoy this time to pay close attention to how my body feels as I practice. To note what my mind does. I appreciate this one place where I don't need to think about how I appear to others, or how they appear to me.
This is made easier for me by the demographics of my classes: the women, who make up 85% of any given class, are my age or older; gay men, who are bored, bored, BORED by all the full, female buttocks and breathy sighs all around them; straight men in their 30's who tend to show up with their wives or girlfriends; and the surprisingly studly silver-haired set. Those men tend to be cyclists and runners and in amazing shape, they just don't give off that certain...vibe.
A younger straight man who is unattached and in a room full of women gives off a vibe. Forgive me for saying so, but in my rambles I have observed that no matter how nice a single man he may be, he is either thinking, "Who in this room would I like to fuck?", "Who in this room do I have a chance of fucking?" or "How can I get someone here to want to fuck me?" (As you may have observed, this is not restricted to yoga class. I welcome any and all male readers of this blog to set me straight if I am wrong.) The older he is, the less he tends to broadcast it, but it's still hard to miss.
As a woman still in my child-bearing years, I am primed to pick up on this vibe. My DNA is patterned to receive this prowling energy, and I have been socialized to then start deciding what I am going to do with it. (Not to mention that I'm a brazen hussy at heart, if not in practice.)
I am happily married. What I am going to do with it, literally, is nothing. But how does this vibe effect my yoga practice? How does it effect my thoughts? Do I change anything about what I do, where I look, and what I think about?
Well, yeah. And it's annoying.
It happened this week in my Tuesday class. I got squished right up front next to some new guy I'd never seen before. Turns out he was visiting from an Anusara yoga studio in West Hollywood, the gayest city in California outside of San Francisco. Briefly, I looked forward to observing and maybe even riding some nonsexual gay boy-energy. Variety can refresh a girl.
And then he said, "...and I'm always the only straight guy there."
Dammit! Immediately, I took stock of my appearance. It was a day where my schmate yoga clothes were in the laundry so I wore my pretty ones. I had taken a shower before coming to class, due to lank hair separating into V's all over my scalp and giving off a stale smell. So my hair was wet, and trailing down my bare back. I was fresh as a daisy and feeling lovely.
"I'm Rob," he said, extending his hairy hand.
I thought, He heard me talking to the woman in the row behind us about my kids, right? He's not going to think I'm flirting with him if we have to become partners, right?
"I'm Susie," I said, taking it.
As our practice began, I realized, with some irritation, that I was giving off my own energy. The female, receptive, attracting kind. It was almost reflexive. Over and over, I breathed it out. Put my mind where it belonged: in my pelvis. I mean my CORE! I mean, my abdominal muscles! Not all of my core! Just the muscular part!
"Lift up through your pelvic floor," sang my teacher. Bloody hell. I'm lifting already, I'm lifting. Does a straight man know where his pelvic floor is? Does this guy, Rob, know how to lift up his pelvic floor? Is he aroused by all of these women around him lifting up their pelvic floor?
After class, Rob asked the teacher about other classes he might drop in on while he's here visiting. On my way out, I said, "Oh, hey, Rainey's class at 8 on Thursdays is really good."
"Thanks," he said. And then, "Are you going to be there?"
My teacher told a story once about another teacher she knew who brought along one really annoying person to every yoga retreat, just to give his students the chance to really practice mindfulness. It's easy to be all kind and peaceful and focusing on your practice when there are few distractions. But can you do it when that irritating stinky guy who groans orgasmically every time he pushes back into dog pose keeps placing his mat next to yours? How about when the boor of the group elbows into the private conversation you're having with your two favorite yoga friends about meditation making you a better person?
It's all fine and good to protect myself in my little yoga enclave of mostly menopausal women. What would happen if I dropped into a hipster studio and took a class with a bunch of 22-year-old hardbodies? I'd probably feel like a hag.
But that would be very good practice.
And no, Rob, I won't be there for that Thursday class, but thanks for the eye-opener that I still have so far to go.