As a long-term Angeleno, I’ve become accustomed to and (dare I say it) fond of the oh-so-common language hurdles that naturally accompany all this sunshine. I love the awkward, mutual sheepishness that occurs when I speak with a neighbor, passerby or the like, and we both understand so little and so much of what the other is saying. This can happen anywhere: the dog park, the market, each “excuse-me-you’re-in-my-seat” or “wow-isn’t-that-crazy-person-crazy?” scenario, the Ed Hardy super store, in line for an upside down rollercoaster, and, well, basically anywhere you find yourself.
I’m rarely thrown off or surprised by these encounters, and (braggadociosly) am often eager to use my rudimentary, survivalist high school Spanish. Imagine my surprise, then, when I finally encountered a situation in which no level of open-mindedness or number of achievement certificates in Señora Biernaki’s 9th grade class could overcome…
Yesterday, I found myself attending “Yoga en Español”, por accidente.
This is unfortunate for many reasons, but best pared down to the two most essential to explaining my discomfort.
The first and likely most important being, I am merely a nascent yogi. Like, brand-spanking. And having recently followed my New Year’s resolution to a delightfully unpretentious studio in Silverlake, I was looking forward to saluting the sun and downward dogging in such a comfortable milieu. As of now, I am very much that person looking around the paper lantern lit room, verifying each verbal instruction with visual confirmation from nearby, more experienced practitioners. (Side Crow, what? Happy Baby, where? Did he just tell me to submit?) That being said, I am already sufficiently awkward and creepy. Sorry for all the staring, fellow classmates.
This brings me to my second reason for extreme discomfort, which is more of a reiteration than a new concept. My knowledge of Spanish is muy basico. Seriously, muy. And so, any pose beyond the “something-something perro” and the “…. al sol” were, well, beyond me. To complicate things further, no amount of visual verification could help, either, as this particular instructor focused mostly on moves that required us to remain al revés. (Confession: I just Google Translated that.) The results were both sweaty and tragic. For the duration of the class, I bent when they stretched, downed when they upped, warriored when they scorpioned… you get the picture. If my staring didn’t make people uncomfortable before, my grunting and muted cussing likely did the trick this time. As well as my uniquely ill-timed moves. I also must add, in vain attempt to preserve the last of my hyper-extended dignity, I failed to inform the clearly bi-lingual instructor that I did not actually speak Spanish, much less Yoga Spanish. Yoganish. Spanga.
In short, after an hour and a half of pure humiliation, I echoed “namaste” with the rest of the class (notably the only non-Spanish word of the entire session), rolled up my mat, wiped my brow, murmured “gracias” in my best accent, and ran for the door.