Interdependence, By Suzanne Present

Since I’m sitting in a yoga studio, I’ll write about how I first got into yoga. As with most of my life changing experiences, it came about just by chance.

Back in the day, I probably would have won the award for “Least Likely To Practice Yoga.” I don’t think that I had done any physical activity since high school gym class. Unless you count walking to CBGB to hear a band and of course cabbing it back home. I spent entire winters watching Star Wars on my VCR or whatever movie happened to be showing on HBO. More often than not, dinner would be pizza or burgers.

Then along came Kees. Kees was the Dutch male model who moved into the apartment downstairs from me. I first became acquainted with him when he knocked on my door to ask for the super’s number. We became fast friends. I think it was because all the other women in the building were hitting on him and all the men in the building hated him because all the women were hitting on him.

I was twice his age and actually twice the age of everyone in the building. I wasn’t hitting on anyone and no one was hitting on me. I loved to travel but due to lack of funds I rarely did it. Due to the nature of his job, Kees traveled all the time. Every time he returned, he would show me his pictures and tell me his war stories such as almost getting eaten by Barracudas in the Maldives, while we’d work our way through a Sixpack of Heineken.

Oh, back to how I got into yoga. It was my Easter vacation, 2002. And I do mean “my” Easter vacation. It seemed like no one I knew had the same vacation as me and I was bored out of my mind. Even Star Wars wasn’t cutting it anymore. I tried to read that new historical novel that had just come out, but I just couldn’t focus. My soul was crying out for a new experience, only my soul hadn’t sent the memo out yet to my brain.

One day I was sitting on the stoop of my building, people watching and waiting for Naomi the Avon lady to come with my order, when I had to stir myself because someone was coming out the front door. It was Kees. After a bit of small talk, he asked me how I was enjoying my Easter break.

I answered “To be honest, I’m bored out of my mind. None of my friends have this week off and I don’t know what to do with myself.”

“Wanna go to a yoga class?” he inquired. Before I thought one second about it I said “Sure.”

“I go to Bhava which is on 6th and B. I’m going tomorrow. The class starts at 12. Ring my bell at 20 of. They have a changing room if you need it.”

After Kees left I was in a panic. I knew that yoga was some kind of movement exercise but that was about all I knew. I didn’t even know what to wear and I was too embarrassed to ask Kees. Instead I called my friend Regina who was an expert on everything and she helped me cobble together an outfit.

But as the time got closer, I started to panic. As I mentioned before, I hadn’t done any physical activity since High School gym class. What if I couldn’t do this? What if I completely humiliated myself in front of Kees and he told the whole world or at least the whole building?

Skipping to the end of this story, the yoga class was delightful. The teacher, Carole, was lovely. Since I was new to yoga, she worked with me one on one and showed me modifications for poses that were beyond my meager ability. In fact, I enjoyed the class so much that at the end of class I bought a twenty class card.

My son Ian was very proud of me. “This is what you should be doing” he said. Ian was big on healthy lifestyles and had been on a mission to get me to change my whole way of living. My friends on the other hand teased me mercilessly. The general consensus was that I had wasted my money and that it would be a miracle if I took even 2 of those 20 classes.

That made me determined that I was going to attend every one of those twenty classes even if I dropped dead after class number 20. Then we’ll see who’s laughing! Well, I went to every class on that card and then some. It is now seventeen years later and I still have a regular yoga practice. My practice has outlasted my friendship with several of those naysayer friends. Who knew?

I wonder if Kees, wherever he is now, is still practicing yoga. Thank you Kees.