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A Hundred Gourds 3:2 March 2014

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Bob Lucky - Ethiopia


Boga Lessons


My wife signs up to go on a yoga retreat and forgets that she's supposed to teach a kiddy yoga class Friday after school. Since anyone who gives a damn about yoga is also going on this retreat, there's no one left to teach the class, and it's too late to cancel it. The vice-principal of the elementary school says to my wife that it's okay if Bob does it, he can just have them play some games. When my wife tells me this, I'm not happy, but what can I do, she's my wife. She thanks me with a kiss on the cheek, swings her duffel bag over a shoulder, tucks her yoga mat under an arm and leaves. You owe me some contortions, I yell after her.

morning drizzle
the twinge in my hip
moves down to a knee

I know nothing about yoga. I come from a family of people who evolved to sit on chairs. There's not one among us who can assume the lotus position or make it through the Japanese tea ceremony. When I meditate, I'm usually flat on my back and just about to fall asleep. And that's my strategy, I'll have them lie on their backs on the floor and I'll soothingly tell them some crap about floating on a cloud. That should take up about five minutes.

At the end of the school day I go to pick them up and take them back to the classroom where the yoga mats are. First graders. There are five girls. There are only two guys. One has Down syndrome and the other is autistic. I explain I'm Miss Lisa's husband – they call her Miss Lisa – and that I'm teaching the class today. Since they're in a bit of shock, they follow my instructions to lie on the floor and close their eyes, and I start telling them they're floating on a cloud and they should start relaxing their bodies. This is going nicely. I tell them the cloud they're on is thinning out and they're slowly drifting down to earth. A few of them decide they would rather fall to earth and start bouncing around like tennis balls dropped from a roof. The autistic kid starts flapping and I get out of him that he's an airplane. He's an airplane for the next forty-five minutes.

afternoon sunlight
on the wall
the world is flat

I settle them down and confess I don't know yoga. I say, my name is Bob and I teach Boga, but before I impart my wisdom to you, show me your favorite yoga position. The frog and the tree make some sense to me. I can see that. This only takes up about ten minutes, so I have the trees teach the others how to be trees and then I tell them to make a forest. Trees don't talk, I remind them. And there's silence for a moment until the boy with Down syndrome falls and though there are only trees in the forest, everyone hears it. To refocus the group, I have them make a nice little frog pond and go ribbit ribbit.

With about twenty minutes more to kill, I'm thinking what I should do when a mother of one of the kids walks in thinking she's going to get a little yoga in. I look at her and shrug my shoulders and she sits on the floor against the wall. We're taking a break, I say to her, and one of the kids says, when are we going to do Boga. Right now, I say, everybody line up. That takes about five minutes. Okay, this is a race, I explain, but the last one to cross this line, and I draw an imaginary line near the far end of the room, is the winner. They all have to run to where I am to make sure they know where the line is. Boga is all about slowing down, I tell them. Some of them jump the gun, but we finally get going. Some of them are running in slow motion, some are crawling in some kind of snail imitation. Then there’s the airplane. I ask the mother if she will watch them while I go to the bathroom. I don't know who the winner was. Class was over when I got back.

sunset
my face flush
with whisky



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