Dancing in the yoga studio

I clean a yoga studio once a week.

It’s a good arrangement. It began when I first moved here. I was feeling thrifty and eager to meet new people. I offered to clean the studio for free classes and before long I was a regular cleaning lady.

It was a great arrangement back then, because I had all the free time in the world and was interested in doing a lot of yoga. I got to know the teachers, attended some amazing workshops, and started to feel part of a little community there.

Then I got a job. A real job. A job I take seriously. That, and I began training for a marathon. It’s amazing how such things eat up your time. I began doing yoga from podcasts at home in the mornings and frequenting the yoga studio less and less. Except each week to clean. I have been to only one class there in the last month. It’s so sad.

A few people have asked me why I still make the time each week to go clean the studio, and I’m honestly a bit reluctant to tell them. The truth is weird. But I am about to tell you. I feel like my yoga studio gig should be more coveted than it is.

Here’s the secret folks: I dance in the yoga studio.

Yes. I dance in the yoga studio. It’s my secret joy.

You have to understand that the yoga studio is a huge, beautiful space. It smells like incense, the walls are a deep marigold, the windows look out into the space three stories above a bustling laneway. It’s always warm in there. It feels good. The energy of love and sweat and releasing the day, pools in the cracks in the old wooden flooring, and settles on the windowsills. As I lovingly wipe down dusty surfaces and clean the floors, I stir it up and energize it. Before long I’m crafting my own interpretive dance to Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” or rocking out to the Violent Femmes. It’s fabulous. A whole studio, all to myself, to dance like a crazy person.

I can do this there, because I clean late in the evening after the last classes have ended – after my workday is over, my runs are logged, and my belly is full. When I coast down the alley on my little yellow cruiser, folks in the laneway bars below the studio are finishing their meals, sleepy with wine, languid and happy. Between flirtatious conversations they eye me outside the warm bar, locking up my bike, unlocking the door to the studio, taking the three flights of stairs up to the top of the building. By the time I’ve reached the top, they barely recall I was there. I am unnoticed. The empty studio two floors up is miles from them.

And when I unlock the studio door, switch on the glowing yellow lights, and begin to get my supplies, I feel exhaustion in my bones. Early morning wake-ups, a day at the office, and evening runs leave me fuzzy-headed on auto-pilot. Sometimes I remind myself that I can afford a few yoga classes a week. I don’t need to clean the studio to practice yoga there. But then I plug my Ipod into the booming speakers of the studio and as I begin to dust I feel a little shimmy in my hips. By the time I’ve vacuumed the office and the studio lays before me, I’ve remembered why I continue this strange habit. In the huge open studio, I play my music insanely loud and dance like nobody is watching. One week I did “the worm” so many times I could barely function the next day. I kid you not. Where else would you actively practice doing the worm? It’s perfect – it’s practically a yoga move. I’m telling you, this yoga gig is pretty incredible.

A couple of years ago I saw a therapist after a bad break-up. This therapist listened to me talk for a few sessions and responded to my ramblings with the observation that I am “a very physical person.” I’ve considered that comment quite a bit since then, unsure whether it was an honest observation or veiled insult. But when I am dancing around the yoga studio like a wild person, I think I know what he meant. Since childhood I’ve been a person unsatisfied with the limited expressions of the mouth. I need to talk, I need to write, I need to run, I need to climb things, jump in rivers, ride my bike fast, dance hard, love fiercely, fight, cry, and sleep it all off when I’m done. These things are more that just actions, they’re expression of self. They are integral to feeling fully me.

So, I probably won’t give up this gig. I will probably spend one night each week losing myself in the music of an empty yoga studio three floors above downtown Brisbane until someone forces me out or catches me in the act.


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