When I walked into yoga class yesterday, my four fellow students were talking about yoga clothes. “I love lululemon,” one was saying, “especially the Westport store.” The others agreed, talking animatedly about perfect fit and range of color options while I, in my TJ Maxx clearance yoga pants with a broken drawstring, Hanes white T and cheap rubber flip-flops from CVS, set up my mat, feeling vastly superior. These women were so shallow, with their pedicured feet and their Alex and Ani bracelets! Me, I come to yoga for the right reason: to do the work.
Then, I caught myself. There are no rules in yoga regarding consumerism or style. We are urged, however, to leave our egos at the door. These women were doing nothing wrong. I was the sanctimonious jerk.
But then, yoga also teaches the value of forgiveness and the wisdom of letting go. So, I forgave myself for being kind of an asshole and let it go.
At the end of class the universe had one more thing up its sleeve. As we were leaving, our teacher, Lauren, asked one of the women how she was, seeing as she hadn’t been to class for a while. The woman said she’d been caring for her mother. How is she doing? Lauren asked. She died, the woman said, and burst into tears.
Immediately, she was surrounded by all five of us, including the lululemon lady, the lady with the fuchsia toenails, and me, the jerk with the insufferably self-righteous attitude. In that circle of support none of this stuff mattered, because when it comes to yoga or just living a life, there’s no single right way to do anything, except, of course, compassion.