I Hope You Dance, But I'm Not Gonna
In my last blog I told you about the women’s retreat I was attending and how much I loved it. I would do it all again in a heartbeat even this day that included Silent Disco Beach Yoga.
It started bright and early when we all piled into vehicles, some carrying their very own yoga mats. These are women who travel with yoga mats. These are the women I see sitting in corners on their mats in the airport breathing and stretching through plane delays while I’m washing down a Xanax with a Titos and eating a five day old Cuban sandwich from the Fresh and Fast case.
As we drive to the beach I put on a brave face. Don’t be THAT person I tell myself, the one who brings everybody else down, though let’s face it, I do have quite a knack for that, a gift, if you will.
We arrive about ten minutes later because apparently there is a beach ten minutes from anywhere in California and head over to the assigned meeting spot behind the snack bar, which, as we passed I noticed served almond milk lattes. A beach snack bar that serves lattes and cranberry scones instead of frozen Snicker’s bars and microwavable hot dogs. Now I’ve seen it all.
We make our way onto the beach and immediately I see from a distance a young woman sitting buddah style on the beach in front of 12 mats. As we get closer I see she is not a woman but a nymph, a sea goddess, a beachy Aphrodite, as she unfurls her long lean body, tanned and healthy with a head full of thick golden hair in a messy bun, a few loose tendrils blowing around her very young old face. Already I can feel the sweat pooling around my receding hairline, my penciled eyebrows beginning to run, the itch under my bra snap that tells me perhaps a light sports bra would have been more appropriate than this army tank I’m wearing built to hide back fat.
Smile I tell myself. Don’t ruin it for everyone.
Fine. She introduces herself, Emma, her name is. She floats through us handing out big ear phones which we all put on. Then she softly speaks, “Can you hear me, all you should be able to hear now is my voice and the sound of the ocean.”
Yes, yes I hear you! I hear the ocean! Buddah music starts to play. I like it! This is so cool! Look everyone! I’m doing silent yoga on the beach!
She instructs us to sit on our mats. We do. The music is tinkling. I hear the surf. We do a pose with our feet together. Okay, I can do this. It’s not that weird. Just normal stretches, anyone can do this. Now we put our arms up and breathe. Cool.
A little girl walks by and stops in front of us with her mother. She does the yoga hands and stands on one foot for a moment before moving on.
“Join us!” I want to yell. We are all one here. We are all yoga people. We are not weird!
Soon, we are on our knees putting our head under our arm and we streeeetch, streeeetch. “Breathe in, breathe ouuuuut, feel the air in your lungs, it is healing,” she croons.
Yes! I feel it! It’s in my lungs! It’s healing! I mean I don’t smoke or anything but I guess it’s healing whatever is in there.
I stare out at the unending surf, at the sea gulls who are twice the size of the seagulls on our Florida beaches, at the horizon far out in the distance. A cold misty fog rolls in, I can barely see my friend next to me as we try to balance on one foot with arms out. It is magical. I focus on sounds—the surf, Emma’s soft voice, Michael Jackson. Wait, what is Michael Jackson doing in my peaceful yoga class? Not now Michael, I’m doing yoga on the beach.
“And now,” Emma says a bit forcefully, “And now, WE DANCE!”
What? No! Everyone sit down! Sit down! People are looking! Everyone is dancing with their headphones on and Emma is leading the pack doing all kinds of gyrations with her hands in the air. Stop it Emma!
“Let’s join hands and make a circle!”
No! No hand joining!
“Who wants to dance inside the circle? Be free and dance!”
I don’t want to be free! I want to be encumbered and stressed and nervous like usual!
Women dance in and out of the circle with reckless abandon.
“Who hasn’t been in the circle yet?” Emma asks after a bit and looks over at me.
Do Not Even Think About It, I tell her with my eyes. She backs off.
That’s right Emma. Just back it right down missy with this circle stuff.
Emma has us all sit back down on our mats. Well this is more like it, but we’ve already made huge spectacles of ourselves. We do some final stretches and then all make our way back to the picnic tables where Carole has made us a fabulous lunch of chicken and quinoa and arugula just the perfect thing after yoga on the beach.
Here’s what I need to tell you though, I fell in love with California out there on that beach with my headphones on. I’m not sure if it was the combination of the surf and Emma’s voice, or the seagulls who came right up to us but weren’t rude or pushy, or the mystical fog that rolled in but I never wanted to leave that beach. So that is why, the very next day, this woman who grew up in Florida but never learned to swim, took a surfing lesson, which is a story for another day. But…it’s coming.