She fought to hold the position, wishing for anything to distract her mind from the messages sprinting up from her shaking muscles, insisting there must have been a mistake, they belong inside a human and not a plank of wood. It was the longest 60 seconds of her day. Arms locked, core strong, breath held, head throbbing. A drop of sweat traced a salty path down her back before veering off to the right, falling six inches to the mat and embedding itself within the foam, leaving a perfect hole-punch of dark pink. She focused on the soft ridges under her fingertips, wondering how something so thin could provide such effective cushioning from the hard oak floor that covered the studio.
It was unapologetically pink. Not pastel; a hot pink. She remembered the way she’d been drawn to it all those months ago, her eyes flicking uncontrollably to that specific shade with no more urgency than if it had jumped off the shelf and screamed German expletives at her. She’d never had that feeling before- the coordination of her wardrobe loosely resembled a chessboard, and only a fraction of the items even saw daylight these days. This was necessary. It was the kind of pink that stuck with you, forcing itself into your line of sight and stalking you for the rest of the day. Defiant. Scorching.
After the inevitable purchase, it sat in the corner of her room for weeks, evoking within her the feeling of a child unable to write in their new notebook for fear of ruining it. What does one do with a yoga mat? She began to resent it, this garish, sardonic reminder that she wasn’t taking care of herself. Between them was a scene she wished she wasn’t quite so familiar with; clothes removed and never cleaned began to pile up. Last night’s plate balanced precariously atop one from the night before, and they’d already discussed their anticipation of another. The melancholy tended to cloud her vision, it was hard to see anything. But she could see that mat.
In time, the fog dissipated and she smiled with her eyes again. The quiet determination inherited from her mother filled her body and propelled her forwards and so, on a nondescript Monday evening, she walked into her bedroom and made a beeline for it. You will not defeat me. Twenty minutes later, staring down at the moist outline of her body left behind after the final Savasana, she felt powerful. The feeling was intoxicating, as though she’d found sunshine and bottled it, endlessly free for her to sample whenever she needed to scare the darkness away.
Collapsing on the 56th second, she was grateful to whoever had designed the one-inch-thick blanket that stopped her tired bones from clattering to the floor. A collective exhale from the rest of the room, women much stronger than she, as they gracefully lowered themselves and whispered a quiet ‘Namaste’. A rush of self-consciousness hit, one she hadn’t felt since becoming a regular here, and she silently scolded herself for forgetting the cardinal rule: everyone was a beginner once. This was a familiar pothole in a well-travelled road, one that had previously prevented her becoming the next Serena Williams, or a female Usain Bolt. In times like this, when her body refused to comply, she remembered she didn’t practise yoga to be the best, just to feel her best.