[This is a first for us – a short story contributed by Tim Roessler -see below -Ed.]
Most classes, he couldn’t believe he was there. With the women in their goddess phases, the pony-tailed granola heads, the slender young things with names like Rainbo and Shanti, daughters of hippies trying to turn straight fair hair into dreadlocked manes out of Kingston. His contempt for them became another mental obstacle he tried to get around, along with the physical challenges the poses presented him.
Warming up on his mat, he wondered for the hundredth time how he managed to land among this particular flock of sheep. Yoga always had been in the background of his crazes for Aleister Crowley, Antonin Artaud, Rudolf Steiner, and the Gnostics dark and light. Old school magicians and mystics, cracked artist saints all wired in to the main dynamo. But the immediate motivation: he lifted weights, then got benched with tendonitis, the side effect of his obsessive training. He’d even gone to the extreme of visiting a doctor and physical therapist, paying for it out of his own, uninsured pocket. They’d both suggested he try some new age bullshit or another, and . . . yoga.
He rejected the idea outright. He still hurt, however, and as he felt his muscles atrophy, going slack like a loosened guitar string, he reconsidered.
It was Heinrich Himmler who’d sealed the deal for him. One of the minor heroes of his pantheon, the SS chief had always traveled across the war-blackened forests with the Bhagavad-Gita at his side.
And that was yoga, too. Arjuna in his chariot, Heinrich and his Panzers, seeking a victory the fruits of which they could not claim, to which they had no right, but striving for it nonetheless. Yoga, brought into the world by. . . Aryans.
Finding the right class was a major pain in the ass for him.
But finally he dropped in on a congenial Ashtanga studio lead by a Texan who blended equal parts Gandhi and Vince Lombardi, and who spoke his language of will and discipline.
It went well, although it was foreign territory for him. He began to feel an unaccustomed lightness in bicep and quad, although he was by far the stiffest member of the class.
There were other matters, too. His tattoos nearly gave him away one day, when his shirt fell down during a hand stand. He had two tattoos done back when he was 19, when he was young and prideful and flaunted his beliefs, before he realized what a giveaway they were. One was of a death’s head, based on the skull that decorated the SS uniform; the other, the wolfsangle, an elongated backwards “n” with a slash through it. The thirteenth rune, it had a swastika vibe to it, but that dill weed Trent Reznor took it over and reduced it to a Goth clichÃ©.
â€œWhat’s that?â€, some schoolmarm hag in a baggy pair of lavender shorts asked him.
â€œGerman ying yang symbol. Good and evil,â€ he grunted out. She’d never know that Aryan boys holding off the last waves of the Slavic hordes wore it into battle.
With a glance equal parts vinegar and weak tea, the old lady left it at that.
Yet, soaked in his free-flowing sweat, enduring the trembling of his arms, his abs, his triceps, playing with the very edge of the poses, he found his own brand of Samadhi. And for that, he would deal. Deal with the posers and neo-hippies, the patchouli and vacant stares, and stay undercover.
Then she showed up.
She. He didn’t catch her name. Why would he? The very opposite of his type in women. An “African American.” He couldn’t even think the phrase without quotation marks.
The next class, she ended up next to him. He couldn’t help but notice that she was particularly adept, particularly long-limbed and had a particularly high, round ass. The expected funk of her body odor didn’t happen either; instead, a disturbingly warm, spicy smell came from her direction. Tumeric.
He identified it later, in his kitchen, and in that moment of recognizing the scent, he felt sudden, deep shame.
He had a crush. A most definite, mind-warping, body-heating infatuation. A passion that went against everything he held sacred. He raged at himself with utter contempt, then, worn out, drifted off into daydreaming about the drop of sweat he had seen trickle into the cleft between her breasts.
He scanned the class schedule for another session; maybe she wouldn’t be there. He went; she was, this time in a magenta number that set his mind spinning.
The next class, he deliberately arrived late, so he could put his mat down as far away from the woman as possible. The studio was packed. With a disapproving glance, his teacher indicated a spot, the only spot open: next to her.
He desperately tried to keep his mind on the postures, and then felt frustrated as he watched his thoughts watch his thoughts let his eyes slip over to her.
â€œPrasarita Padottanasana,â€ the teacher called out. Never a favorite of his, this pose requires the student to stand, spread his legs in an â€œAâ€ shape, lean forward and, touch the top of the head to the floor. Or try to.
Because he was right behind her, the pose seemed suddenly more Kama Sutra that Yoga Mala, the high globes of her butt inches away from his face. He thought of those temple friezes, of what lay between and under those spectacular cheeks, and
â€œI want to remind y’all,â€ his teacher said, â€œthat sensuality has no place in a yoga class.â€
He blushed for the first time since eighth grade, so hard that it nearly hurt. He didn’t recover, moving in and out of the poses like a clumsy, particularly stiff bear, his shame heightened because he seemed to feel her checking out his utterly maladroit moves with stern disapproval.
She left quickly, all business as she rolled up her mat, tossed her water bottle into a rough woven bag and disappeared.
That night, he dreamed of her. Savages were boiling him in a big black cauldron, and even in the terror of this nightmarish part of his dream, he wondered at the 1930s cartoon imagery, but that quickly turned to dread as he felt the searing water scald his pink flesh. She rescued him; the scene changed, and he found himself in an antebellum boudoir, the sound of spirituals wafting on the humid air, while she sprawled lazily on the four-poster bed.
As he washed his sheets the next morning, he reflected.
This attraction violated every principle he’d held since he was sixteen. Mixing the races. Miscegenation. The way to decay, to mediocrity, the very source of all that was evil and wrong in the world.
That had been his whole position â€“ not racial superiority (at least, he would not argue that, no) but racial separation. To each his own, let the Native Americans find their own genius on their own soil, the Africans and Asians too, just allow the Europeans their own land, pure and purged.
But his body â€“ the lower half anyway â€“ mobilized some counter arguments. Hadn’t Leni Riefenstahl spent time among the Masai warriors and documented their fierce beauty with her Leica? It wasn’t like he was going to marry her, either. If all went well, he’d have her for some months. They’d never leave his room, the way he envisioned it. His comrades need never know.
Or no: finally, he’d introduce her with pride, a princess of his own â€“ she was the perfection of her own way, the embodiment of his position: racial purity yielding superior people, and she was superior.
Action. Not hesitation. Honoring impulses, wherever they led. That was his creed, too, damn it. It wasn’t just about restriction. Conquest, and see what fate would hold in store.
Next class, she wound up spreading her purple mat at the very farthest position away from him.
Finally, after savasana, the corpse pose, after the last vibrations of the gong stilled and the lights came up, he lept up and over to her and willed rather than spoke his invitation.
â€œNot if you were the last motherfucking cracker on the planet.â€
He knew that dignity and good form demanded that he turn and walk away. But every last cell rebelled and he stood, rooted to the spot.
â€œWhat part of that don’t you understand?â€
â€œWhy not?â€ He croaked out the words before he could stop himself, and again, felt that hot blush creep up in waves from his neck to the roots of his hair.
Her eyes took in his collapse and softened with a not unkind amusement. She leaned in closely, drew her long index finger up his arm, making him shudder, then, raising the sleeve of his black t-shirt, revealed his tattoo, the wolfsangle.
She shook her head from side to side.
â€œWhy?â€ he stammered, his blood pooling in the soles of his feet.
â€œLet me explain it to you,â€ she said, her brown eyes softening from regal hauteur into amusement.
Nine months later they named their son Wolfgang Shango Smith.
[About Tim: “I live and spread my mat in Boulder, Colorado, where I own a small company, Wicked Lemons Media, that specializes in Internet content. Before this, I lived and worked in Paris, acted, and taught English.
I came to yoga back in 1993 through a combination of a crazy boss (stress) and a sense that I was slowly but surely turning into a guy with the suppleness of a plank of wood. Several inspiring teachers have graced my practice, including Richard Freeman, Lisa Jo Landsberg, and George Purvis.
You’re welcome to reach me at email@example.com.]