Eighty bodies stacked 12 in a row, sweating and grunting and loving the healy-feely goodness that is Yoga to the People: all bodies rise.

yoga to the people studio

The actual worst part of donation-based “pack in as many people as you can” yoga might be the smell. YTTP, no matter which location you visit, greets you with an olfactory kick in the face. And you either deal with it, or you shell out the cash to go somewhere else, somewhere smaller. I always think it’s special, though. Everyone is accepting and forgiving.

Sometimes class is the most intimate connection I have all day. The guy next to me, young, tattooed and scruffy, grunts heavily as he twists himself into a full bind, the noise I imagine bass-drenched ’80s porn to be laden with. He didn’t have the right mustache, not that I should have been paying attention. This one instructor stumbles over her words as though they’re heavy, telling everyone to H-A (haaaa) as I stay defiantly silent, bringing my knee from above me to my forehead wondering how the hell that noise is supposed to help my practice, my arms feeling the weight of my body. I see stars. “Breathe, my loves,” she says. The already hot room made hotter by the body heat of 80 power vinyasa-ing toward presumed nirvana.

crow pose on surfboard

(here is a crow pose on a surfboard to keep you entertained) 

When I’m stressed, I forget to do the things I ought to do, like drink water. In the moments of quiet, you can hear the traffic below. There are skylights, the sun just beginning to set even though it’s past 7 p.m. on a Tuesday. Someone in the front of the room coughs and I think of my mother being grossed out by the germs and the warmth and the sweat. I bend all of the way back. And pause… Backbends are heavenly. I lift myself forward, reaching for my toes, and get distracted by my bottle of aloe vera juice and the twinkling lights at the edges of my vision. There’s a guy who looks as though he’d be better suited playing football than muscling himself into poses; he does pushups in between each. “Find your flow,” she coos.

But how am I supposed to find my flow when the girl in front of me, noticeably older than me, curly hair heat-crazed and pushing every which way like a plant toward the sun, keeps kickboxing her foot up to the ceiling, precious inches away from my downward facing face? Motherf*cking om. — SHAYNA GONSALVES

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