fiction by Laura McCorry
Marcia had just eased her car into a parking spot when she looked out the passenger window and saw the sign which read “one-hour parking.” A few raindrops hit her windshield and Marcia, resisting the temptation to curse, let out a disgruntled sigh. One hour parking would not be long enough. Her brow furrowed deeper and her shoulders were rigid with tension.
Reluctantly, she turned the key in the ignition and circled the block again, then she circled one block north and found another spot in two-hour parking. Marcia was grateful she had intended to arrive well before the start of the Classic Yoga, level 1 and 2 class that afternoon.
If there had been a level zero class, Marcia would have signed up for that. It had been many years and two children ago that Marcia had last taken a yoga class. Her eyes were the same color, but since then, pretty much everything else about her body had seemed to change. She felt like she might as well be trying yoga for the very first time.
Marcia had called ahead yesterday and spoken to the Office Manager Missy, whose upbeat voice had assured her the class was absolutely beginner-friendly.
Marcia turned off her car a second time and took in a deep breath, but it came out in a ragged rush. The skies were grey and turbulent, and it looked like real rain was on the way. She hurried down the street and ducked under the awning when she saw the sign for Yoga One.
Inside there was a curious little opening in the wall (formally a dumbwaiter shaft) which revealed a closet-sized office. Within, a young woman with long, blonde-ish hair greeted her. Marcia recognized her voice right away.
“You must be Missy,” she said, feeling relieved.
“Yes, I am!” said Missy. “I’m glad to meet you, Marcia. I’ll be leading our class today.”
Missy welcomed Marcia into the studio and asked if she had any questions or concerns before closing the door. Then, Missy greeted the class and instructed everyone to take a comfortable seat on top of a folded blanket.
Marcia sat up as tall as she could, noticing immediately how much more effort it took to sit straight than to slouch. Even with the blanket lifting her a bit off the ground, Marcia could feel the tightness in her hips that kept her knees slightly higher than most of the other students.
They weren’t seated for long, just two or three minutes, yet when Missy’s voice guided the class to come to their hands and knees, Marcia sighed with relief. She worried the whole class was going to feel that hard.
“The most important part of yoga is your breath,” Marcia heard Missy’s calm and steady voice intone as she walked slowly around the room. “If you can’t breathe slowly, evenly, then you’re trying too hard. Try to find a balance between effort and ease.”
Trying too hard. Those words repeated in Marcia’s mind. She couldn’t remember the last time anyone had said those words to her. Most of the time Marcia felt as though she weren’t trying hard enough.
Her boss was always expecting the completion of some project or another. Her two children always seemed to need supplies for an assignment they were supposed to turn in the next day. Her to-do list was never finished.
If her husband asked her for anything at the end of the day, even something as simple as getting him a glass of water from the kitchen, she sometimes felt herself bristle. Not at him, but at the feeling of being constantly needed. Marcia tried her best to satisfy all of their needs, but it was an impossible task because they always asked for more.
A balance between effort and ease. Did such a thing exist? Where in her life could she do less? This thought tumbled over and over in Marcia’s mind throughout the class. It made her feel intrigued, hopeful, and a little bit afraid. What if something didn’t get done? What if she wasn’t as needed as she thought?
Before Marcia knew it, one hour and fifteen minutes had gone by. The class was over. The students were seated again on the blankets with all eyes closed and hands pressed together before their hearts.
“Take a deep breath in, and a deep breath out,” said Missy. “Thank yourself for making this time to connect mind, body, and spirit. Namaste.”
Marcia breathed in deeply and this time her breath flowed out long and smooth. Thank yourself. Another novel idea.
“Yes,” thought Marcia. “Thank you. Thank me?”
While everyone was putting away the props and rolling up their mats, Missy came over to ask Marcia how she felt. Marcia told her how she often held tension in her shoulders and that the class had been challenging, but that she did feel more relaxed than before.
Missy took the time to show Marcia a few simple poses she could do at work to ease strain in her neck and shoulders. Trying a yoga class after so long hadn’t been easy, but Missy’s friendliness, knowledge, and warmth had put Marcia at ease. As she gathered her belongings, Marcia thanked Missy again for the class and for her suggestions.
As Marcia walked back to her car, her heart felt lighter than it had in a long time. She would gladly leave a little extra time for parking if it meant she could feel this way once a week. Maybe next time she would take the trolley, or a ride-share. Maybe she could go to yoga more than once a week.
Turning the key in the ignition, Marcia nodded her head. It had absolutely been the right decision to take a yoga class that afternoon. It felt like the first step towards the kind of life she wanted to live.
As Marcia thought that perhaps a regular yoga practice could help balance effort and ease in her life, a smile spread across her face.
Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.