Peter Pan-Tanjali


Memoirs of a Downward Facing Dog

There is a yoga studio in New York City that is like Never-Never Land for grown-up, bendy people.  Second star to the right and straight on till morning, only here, it’s three flights up and follow the trail of pixie dust.


The corporate concrete of the 6th Ave. building suddenly gives way to colorful graffiti lining the walls, signalling, “Warning. Hippies May Be Closer Than They Appear.”

The two girls working the desk look like they just had a wrestling match with Tinkerbell and both of them sport bindis between their eyebrows. I’m not sure whether to make eye contact with their actual eyes or their third eye of higher consciousness, so instead I get confused and go cross-eyed.

Which actually works in my favor, because with my eyes crossed, my focus narrows down the tip of my nose and I realize that it was not, in fact, a mud match with Tink, but instead, a tray full of glitter on the shelf, next to a sign in classic, Alice-in-Wonderlandian style, saying, “Shake Me” that is the culprit for the desk girls to be shimmering so. Previously, I had mistaken their sheen for auras.

The practice room is pumping club music full blast.  The walls are covered in graffiti and a large, spray-painted portrait of Ganesha wearing sunglasses; blissfully floating in a lotus flower, holding a boom box in one hand and a stack of dollar bills in the other, looms over the front of the space. (Never did quite figure out that stack of dollar bills.) The floor is covered, in yep, you guessed it, glitter, shellacked under a finish like an annoying penny permanently stuck in asphalt.

People are hugging. And talking. And when Dana, the teacher, with her shock of red hair, enters the room, she starts hugging people too. Like really hugging. Dana walks off to this side-room while everyone continues hugging and just as if on cue, the guy with the black, mesh tee-shirt, 1970’s red short-shorts and man-boobs bounces into the room, (of course, he’s hugging the girl with the tee-shirt that says, “I Sweat Glitter”) while the Village People’s YMCA comes blasting into the sound system. Granted, it’s Pride weekend in Manhattan. But all of those huggers stop hugging, and then they start dancing. And before you know it, you’re dancing too, and making all of those letters with your arms. And this is yoga class.

Welcome to the Laughing Lotus.

The sequence is crazy. The music is loud. But it makes me feel like a Bedouin dancer. And as I move, I forget that my heart hurts. You tell me to form my hands into the shape of a tiara over my head, and bring the crown in front of my sternum, and then Garudasana into OMG, High Lunge, Handstand? Fuck, yeah! (OMG is the name they call a pose. I’m pretty sure that’s not Sanskrit)

As Dana weaves us through this crazy class, she tells us the story about the Green Lady of Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn . They call her Sweetheart. A woman from Nova Scotia who hitchhiked to New York in 1964, now 75 years young, who realized at some point that the one thing missing from New York was the green of her homeland. So she started wearing it. Every day, everywhere, head-to-toe….green. Like some kind of urban leprechaun, she’s been monochromatic for the past 17 years. Now, she’s kind of a legend in Brooklyn and children think she’s magic.

The point being that when you need something in your life, you bring it. What we bring to our lives is what we get from our lives. You see, Sweetheart needed more green, just to feel happy, so she brought green. If you want joy, be joyous.  If you want connection, be open.  Stability, be stable.   If you want laughter, don’t take yourself so goddamn seriously.

And as I OMG’d, and YMCA’d, and whooped and high-lunged and built tiaras, and removed obstacles, it hit me. It was like gospel church for yogis.

Holy Shit. If you want shine, sweat glitter.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mira Prabhu
    Jul 05, 2014 @ 11:27:51

    Hilarious! I lived in Manhattan for a long time and as an Indian was quite amazed at how my western yogi/ni friends transformed it into what you somewhat describe here…though the Institute I went to stayed pretty formal and used the classical approach. For me yoga is profoundly different — personal, an inner path..and still is, decades later…hatha is the first of 8 stages to moksha/enlightenment…but to millions in the west, it is an all-encompassing practice that includes looking good and hugging…instead of seeking permanent liberation from desire and fear. Thanks!


  2. Kallan
    Jul 06, 2014 @ 14:28:22



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: