So I walk into my Sunday morning yoga class and there's a sub, and she's really nice. And while everyone is setting up their mats, she is in this conversation with another woman in the class, who is a middle-aged, sharp looking, gray-haired woman with a new agey vibe that I have seen before. I've noted new-age lady before actually because she is serious business in her yoga practice, rocking the headstands and such, while I am shaking away in warrior lunges. Anyways, nice yoga sub starts talking about poverty and schools and public health, and how poverty truly is an indicator for health outcomes, and I'm all internally thinking "well, yeah, this is what I do for a living" and then she mentions the absurdity that our country is in a debate over the funding of Planned Parenthood. And how they provide so much good to women who are most vulnerable, and need cancer screenings and birth control and mammograms. And how only 3% of their services are even related to abortion. And then the older new-agey lady says, "Well it's an awful 3%."
Well. Fuck. Right there goes my ability to let go and my ability to focus on taking a goddamn yoga class to build strength and relax and do everything related to my physical and emotional health.
I powered through it. I held onto the shakiest of crow poses for a split second. I stretched far, I attempted every difficult balance. But today the practice was a mess. My mind couldn't be controlled, not through the most intentional of breathing. Fuck me.
When we came to shavasana, the final resting post, I was spent, but not in the usual way. I could feel my face crumble, I could feel the tears burning through my closed eyelids.
When it was over, I thanked the sub for her class. And made a friendly suggestion. Trying to hold back tears I explained that I first wanted her to know that I personally agreed with every one of her comments about public health issues. But that once she mentioned Planned Parenthood, and once I had to listen to another person comment negatively about it, that was it, I couldn't hold on to my practice. She silently took in what I said, then said I was right, and that she now really understood that chit chat before class should be more mindful.
But then I went further, explaining (rambling really) in a whisper, "That 3% you mentioned, that that other woman commented on, well, I am that 3%. My baby was going to be very very sick, and to spare her pain I made the choice to terminate a pregnancy in the second trimester. And it was an awful situation to be in. And for so many women in my position, Planned Parenthood is the only option for care. And to hear another woman's judgment about the awful 3% was awful in itself....I guess maybe as a helpful suggestion, maybe it makes sense to try not to discuss divisive political issues right before the start of a yoga class. Sometimes the political is personal. Sometimes your students may be triggered."
We talked some more. The sub was very kind, and felt very bad, which was not my intention at all. But at least I know that from here on in she will work hard to create a truly safe space prior to class. Or at least not talk about abortion clinics.
You know, I really don't want to be this special snowflake who needs such a delicate touch. I don't like being this person who bursts into tears in a yoga class for fuck's sake. And maybe my whole premise is entirely wrong, and it's a ridiculous expectation to ask that someone not talk "politics" before a yoga class. But man, what was ordinarily an empowering, nurturing experience was really turned on its head this morning.