by cheri block
In the yoga studio last Tuesday evening, I moved to a new location—the front row.
My mindset went like this: I must displace the large Czech women who like to dominate that front row.
My strategy will be simple: arrive earlier than they and unroll my green mat directly in front of the teacher. Upon arrival, they may be so engrossed in discussing Mosel glass and Pilsner Urquell that they will not notice the coup of one about to happen.
My tactics will be sneaky: unfurl my mat and stake out my territory. Then, close my eyes and begin limbering up, pretending to be lost in the State of Flexibility. Down, my spine bends to my thighs: up, my arms stretch in a salute to my toes. Sweeping to the east, my salute continues. I am not thinking about the Czech Republic, about the old Czechoslovakia, about tall handsome young men and large breasted (from the beer) Czech women.
The door to the Om Studio opens without warning.
They arrive in a dominant way. In a yoga studio, dominance can be asserted by talking too loudly or laughing or taking the names of the yoga sutras in vain or discussing whether a Lara Bar is more flavorful than a Clif Bar. This they did. In Czech, of course.
I continued my meditation but in truth, I unsoftened my eyes to glimpse their march into my space.
They were not deterred by the castle my body had become, as they infiltrated the territory they had staked out eight weeks ago.
In a power play, they flanked me, boxing me in between them.
And then they began their talk, in Czech of course.
“Кто она думает, что она? (Who does she think she is?) questioned the big one, looking at me like an East German backstroker in the next lane.
“Она – маленький человек, легко над которым доминируют,” (She is a small person, easily dominated), answered her friend.
I closed my eyes and focused on my breath, inhaling while making space for my lungs and then exhaling while shrinking my waist to my navel.
Then, listening to them solve the problems of the yoga studio in their language, it hit me.
“В следующий раз, сделайте, поскольку мы сделали в 1947: движение в ее место. Конечно ее циновка станет серой, (Next time, do as we did in 1947: move into her space. Surely her mat will turn gray)” the older one asserted.
Olga and Irina are not Czech! They are Russian.