It feels especially weird, as an Indian, to go to Yoga classes here in America. When my American yoga teachers take one look at my brown skin, they immediately assume that I know what I am doing. As the class begins, they’ll recite Sanskrit names of various yoga poses, and then glance over at me knowingly as if to say, “You know that word, right? Of course you do, you are brown.” But, then, as I struggle to barely hold a downward dog, they begin to smirk as if to say, “Hey class, I think we have a defective Indian…hahahaha.” I can practically hear their thoughts, “Your people invented Yoga, and yet your ‘cobra’ pose looks more like a ‘lethargic worm’ pose.” At that point, I feel like I have been exposed as the “special needs” yoga student which makes the already smug teacher even smugger. It also means, of course, that they will start giving me crutches like extra blocks, straps, and towels. “This block will really help someone like you…er…someone whose muscles are especially tight,” they say. Then they start saying the Sanskrit words especially slowly (like I’m 5 years old) which really starts to eat at my self-esteem. But the smug instructor usually doesn’t stop there. She likes to flaunt her superiority by wrapping her legs around their head while balancing on just a couple of fingers. At that point, unable to keep up, I just go into child’s pose and resist the urge to flip the double bird, even though it is very easily accessible from that position. A few minutes later, the American Sadhu is doing an exotic handstand while they talk fondly about their decade of living with their instructor in the Himalayas. As I work myself into a frenzy writing this piece, I am thinking that I really should just switch back to swimming…it’s so much easier on my ego.
This article was written by Bad Swami. For more chicanery, please visit me at www.badswami.com or follow me at @badswami.