I've always loved juxtapositions. Wikipedia defines it as "the act or placement of two things (usually abstract concepts) near each other." Back when I was in the art program in high school we were given two famous but different paintings and asked to combine them for maximum effect. I chose Birth of Venus by Botticelli and Son of Man by Magritte and placed the apple faced stranger inside the seashell. Yes, I do love juxtapositions.
The thing about juxtapositions however, is they are best experienced. For the past 2 years I have started taking random workout classes from monthly gym memberships to yoga in New York City. Buying a new groupon or similar cheap discount every other month in my never ending quest to do something different and fight the fat, I've tried hot yoga, pilates, hatha yoga, lots of random gyms of questionable quality and now, cross fitness. The thing I really enjoy about these classes however, are the views from the inside out.
The best classes I have ever taken were at gyms or yoga studios with large tall windows looking out into NYC. Some of these windows were at street level where you could hear the hum of cars on York Ave., and some were perched high above avenues from 3rd to 6th and above streets from Broadway to 86 street (both 86 streets in Brooklyn and Manhattan.) The thing about doing yoga in NYC is the strangeness of it all. Think about it, these are the people you would not sit next to on the train because you just don't sit next to anyone if the train has other seats. But now, you are bending over doggy-style, excuse me, downward dog, in their face just 1.5 feet away from their yoga mat. This is indeed a juxtaposition because voluntarily doing yoga and choosing to put yourself that close with a bunch of strangers whom you would otherwise avoid like the plague in any other NYC situation, is a bit of an abstract concept.
Imagine you were at a bar an you said to a stranger "I am about to stick my feet in your face and drip sweat right next to you while humming and breathing rapidly." They would think you're nuts. And you are, unless you both chose to be at a place where that's totally normal. Thats what I love about yoga and all workout classes in NYC, it works because it just does. We New Yorkers who believe that keeping your sanity here means doing the exact opposite of what NYC does to you is important, so we often do yoga. Maybe its just a really long fad or maybe not. Maybe its our way of finding balance. And if you are like me, maybe its something you NEED. I mean, not necessary the yoga itself but the experience of it all.
I love my juxtapositions, all of them from warrior 2, to cobra, to upward dog because in New York, they're all juxtaposed against this brutal city. I am happiest in those classes with the giant windows where I can glimpse the NYC skyline, and hear the hum of cars below and the sirens in the distance. After jumping around, sweating or bending in front of perfect strangers and attempting to let go of my self conciseness for a bit, I get to lay down into savasna (the yoga pose where you lay in total relaxation) and contemplate the juxtaposition at hand. Perfectly relaxed smack dab in the middle of Manhattan in a room full of strangers. I love it all, from the music the instructors play in the class to either relax or wind you up, to the specific smell of the yoga mat cleaning sprays. It brings me in.
Next time you're in New York look up and you may just see a class full of people bending into odd shapes above you. I might be one of those people in the classroom but my mind if flying out of the tall window, above the streets and rooftops and contemplating the juxtaposition of it all. Yoga in New York is Son of Man in Venus' seashell. Beautiful.
Week 13 of 52 - Story a Week in 2014