The excerpt below is from Murder Likes It Hot.
After ten minutes of cajoling, Gabriel had recruited a grand total of four students. Five, if you counted the Golden retriever. Nicole, Rainbow, himself, and a blond male wearing a filthy gray hoodie. Hope lay at attention next to Nicole’s chair.
The four humans sat equidistant from each other, empty chairs forming impermeable walls between them. Gabriel offered a shrug. Nicole, a bright smile. Rainbow looked shyly down at her fingernails. The male leaned back in his chair, pulled the hood down over his face, and promptly began snoring. Rainbow glanced his direction and giggled. Hope cocked her head at him curiously, then flopped on her side and joined him.
Disappointment sank like wet clay in my stomach, but I turned off the music and prepared to teach. The deep thrums of hip-hop thudded from the recreation area, accompanied by good-natured gibes and the ceramic clank of pool balls. I considered turning the CD back on, but Deva Premal sounded exactly like I felt. A woo woo interloper, intruding where she didn’t belong. We were both like cartoons in a child’s activity book. Which object doesn’t belong? Chimes, music, and murmured instructions were all superficial. My expectations for yoga class seemed ridiculous, too.
The goal of a yoga teacher (a good one, anyway) is to meet your students where they are and take them to a state of greater balance. Thus far, I’d attempted to meet my students where they weren’t so I could take them somewhere they probably didn’t want to go. No wonder my class was flopping.
I forged on. “Close your eyes and notice your breath.”
My second mistake. Snoozing Guy slouched deeper. Rainbow glanced nervously back and forth, as if afraid someone was going to grab her.
“On second thought,” I said, “keep your eyes open, but find a comfortable place to focus your gaze.”
Rainbow’s eyes stopped shifting. She kept them open, but stared toward the floor. Snoozing Guy kept snoring, but I could live with that. “Notice your breath and begin to make it longer.”
I kept the class purposefully short and taught simple poses that connected movement and breath. When sounds intruded, as they often did, I asked my students to bring their attention back to the breath. “Yoga can help you find calmness in chaos. See if you can practice that here. Try to remain focused in spite of the sounds around us.”
My students—three of them anyway—seemed to respond. Nicole smiled and moved fluidly with her breath. Gabriel interspersed glances at the male teen with slow, smooth breaths. Rainbow’s shoulders dropped down from her ears. The tension in her body melted. For the first time that afternoon, I felt worthy.
I finished class with a three-minute Savasana (yoga’s pose of quiet rest) performed seated in chairs. When I rang the chimes, all four human participants opened their eyes. Snoozing Guy surprised me by giving me two thumbs-up and saying, “That was epic. I haven’t slept that well in weeks.”
I assumed it was a compliment.
Check out future classes and learn about my newest crime-solving adventure in Murder Likes It Hot !