woman doing yoga
[ This photo is in the public domain. ]

How many Downward Dogs, Chaturangas, and various warriors is it going to take to get to Corpse?

Randi calls it Savasana. She’s a pixie of a brunette who doesn’t like to say dark sounding things. I want my ten minutes of no thinking, no posing, and no doing. Give me my Corpse.

“In today’s practice, we’re going to focus on heart openers.” Randi’s saccharine smile on most Saturday mornings is contagious. Today, it makes my stomach turn.

When Randi tries to connect her eyes with mine, I examine my toes. I adore her, but an entire yoga practice focused on heart openers? I want to put a stone wall up around my heart. My heart is bruised like the apple I should have eaten for breakfast.

Instead, I ate a pancake. It was high in protein, topped with pure maple syrup, and fake butter with omega-3s. I added dark chocolate chips to the batter, because a little dark chocolate every day is good for my soul.

“Breath,” Randi says. “Focus on the breath. When a thought comes to interrupt your breath, acknowledge it. Then, send it down the river with all the other thoughts. Set your intention.”

Thought! Guarding my heart was going to be my intention. That’s what I told myself I’d do as I ordered my Campfire Mocha this morning. I ordered it with white chocolate (bad), skim milk (good, depending on who you ask), an extra shot of espresso, and less whip (a good intention).

I should request no whip. Less whip is uncertain. No whip is definite, the way I like for things to be. No whip means no marshmallows. I love the little marshmallows.

Enough whipped cream was on today’s mocha to prove that the barista didn’t understand the war I’ve been waging with my thighs since fifth grade. How could she? The girl was rail thin with model exquisite cheekbones.

Now Randi wants us all to open our big, fat hearts. I can’t think of a worthy intention. Can I focus on guarding my heart during an opening practice? Perhaps it could be the pluralism pretzel practice starring Polly.

Exhale. Forward fold.

Thought! “I’ve always wanted to date a girl who’d eat a big, juicy burger with me.” Brad said that on our first date. I’d ordered a portobello mushroom burger. He’d ordered a Juicy Lucy. Brad hadn’t noticed that my burger was meatless. We were living together before he commented on meat’s absence from my diet.

Deep breath in. Halfway lift. I let the thought go. A round of breath in Plank. Exhale into Chaturanga. Inhale into Upward Dog. Exhale into Downward Dog.

The thought drifts down the river with all of the other thoughts that no one else is thinking, because they are all better than me at not thinking.

Thought! This is better than being at my apartment. Since Brad moved out, the space is a constant cacophony of squeaky beds, screaming children, and searing music. He was my white noise.

Ruminations press on my chest in Camel pose. My shins are on the floor, back bent, hands on ankles. Static fuzzes my brain’s periphery.

“Root your feet and hands into the floor,” Randi says. “Press up into Wheel. Let’s shine our hearts forward to light up the room with love.”

We lay on our backs, hands by our ears, knees bent.

Thought! Wheel should be called oxygen malt. In Wheel, I go through the same struggle for a sip of air as I do for the delicious taste of a chocolate malt. Oxygen should be a given, like the ground, like I thought Brad was.

We release down, working out the kinks in our back in Happy Baby.

Thought! A pickle slice rode a wave of ketchup off the edge of Brad’s burger on that first date. He took a bite. A glob of red held his smile’s edge. “Want some?”

He could be so cheerful and, well, open-hearted. When he met my parents, he brought a bottle of red wine and a charcuterie board.

“How generous,” my Mom said.

Anxiety constricts my breath making it as shallow as a puddle that gives a stomp no splash. I refuse to surrender into Child’s Pose like I should.

Thought! Brad should have surrendered during our last fight. That one’s on him. Who am I kidding? It was a fake argument. He knew he was leaving before it started. No one leaves over puppy litter, right?

Full body stretch. “Find what you need for Corpse. If you need a blanket, wave me down,” Randi says.

Thought! Before our last fight, my MINI Cooper got stuck on ice and snow. I was trying to push it forward with the help of eager strangers. An older woman pulling a cart behind her stopped, grabbed out a bag of puppy litter, and sprinkled some by my wheels. A few more shoves freed my MINI.

That night, I told Brad what had happened. He told me I meant kitty litter. “No, it was puppy litter.”

“Puppy litter doesn’t exist,” Brad said.

“I’ll Google it.”

“That’s your answer to everything. You never just trust me.”

“Look.” I put my laptop in front of him. “Puppy litter exists.”

That was it. We were done. He was sick of being contradicted.

Hives crawl across my skin as I try to find peace in Corpse.

“If you find your mind wandering, focus on the rising and falling of your chest,” Randi says.

Thought! I spent ten years with Brad. Generous, sweet, openhearted Brad who just wanted my blind faith in his rightness on things.

I exhale forgiveness and inhale self-love. A decade is gone. Maybe someday a man with Brad’s good qualities won’t mind a girl who questions. My body relaxes into the mat.

Thought! Maybe I’ll tell my Mom that I’m seeing Mat. She was shocked that Brad wanted me at the elderly age of 30. Mat holds me like no other has managed before.