From the archives: This Valentine’s Day, I will be in Moab, running an excruciatingly long race with my perma-Valentine (more on that next week). I anticipate a romantic dinner at Milt’s, where Bix will find it endearing when I finish my double bacon cheeseburger and start in on his onion rings, and not just because he is now legally bound to think everything I do is cute. In any case, in my absence, here’s a throwback to one of my less fun (but ultimately more memorable!) Ghosts of V-Days Past.
Several Valentine’s Days ago, I showed up to my usual Monday night yoga class because I had nothing better to do. I had recently been unceremoniously dumped, all my roommates had dates, and the scheduling gods at my place of employment had seen fit to grant me the night off on the one holiday I’d rather have worked.
I was the first to arrive for candlelight flow yoga that night, so I had plenty of time to notice the demographic of the class as everyone else trickled in. It was usually the same half-dozen or so women, and one particularly sweaty, gas-prone man who showed up every few weeks. Tonight, my usual compatriots never arrived, and were replaced by a series of starry-eyed couples, whispering quietly and sharing private jokes with one another. Suddenly it struck me.
Now, you’d think someone who was two years into her degree in literature might have read the sign posted on the door to the yoga studio, but I was in the zone. Not only was I looking forward to the bottle of wine I’d set aside for my pathetic solo night in, but I was also maybe a little heartbroken, or at least suffering a bruised ego.
Our instructor, Sage, who is probably the single most beautiful person I’ve ever met in real life, floated into the room approximately two minutes before class was scheduled to start. The fact that her name was Sage, along with her unruly hair and the naturally calming voice with which she announced each pose, meant she was basically born to be a yoga instructor. One time, when she nonchalantly complimented me on “having really devoted myself to my practice over the last few weeks,” I left the studio positively glowing. In retrospect, I should maybe have just asked Sage to be my Valentine.
But I digress. Sage came into the studio and beamed at all the cute couples who’d set their mats uncomfortably close together. How in love they were! But then her eyes settled on me, the lone yogi, who had apparently missed the memo that today was not a day to ruin everyone else’s fun by reminding them that some people didn’t have a boyfriend to drag to Candlelight Flow. I feel like Sage shook her head at that point, but it may have been a trick of the candlelight.
“As you all know, tonight’s usual class has been modified to celebrate this day of love,” she proclaimed directly at me, “We will be practicing candelight flow in tandem with those we love most!”
There was a long, awkward pause as each couple in the room followed Sage’s gaze to my mat, where I was focused intently on my Ujjayi breaths.
“Anyway,” she continued, “Are we waiting on anyone else?” I could feel her looking at me. I shook my head. I could not believe beautiful, sweet Sage had betrayed me like this. So much for Namaste.
My options were limited. I could take the bait and leave, and pride would never again allow me to return to Monday night candlelight flow. Or, I could stay, do my best to ignore the inevitable sweating and grunting of boyfriends whose hopes for post-yoga Valentine’s Day sex were high, and try not to cry for the next hour and fifteen minutes. I didn’t relish the idea of staying, but my NOVA special wasn’t on until eight-thirty anyway, and I liked Monday night yoga. I had to think long-term here. Option Two it was.
We had reached an impasse, and Sage knew it. “Let’s begin in child’s pose,” she sighed.
I think it’s pretty well-established that Valentine’s Day kind of blows—insert buzzwords like consumerist holiday, Hallmark stock, and commodification of love here—and I’d venture that it blows even a little more if you’ve just been dumped. And (trust me on this) if you’ve just been dumped and you accidentally show up to couples’ yoga, it’s the absolute worst.
I would call my solo couples’ yoga experience a small victory. A big victory would have ended with me mastering the crow pose (I didn’t) or spending the rest of the evening doing anything other than drinking wine and watching PBS until I fell asleep on the couch alone (but, that’s what I did).
I still haven’t mastered the crow pose, but I did learn a very important lesson about Valentine’s Day. I didn’t learn anything about only needing to be happy with myself or about maybe having a little crush my yoga instructor, mainly because I already sort of knew those things. What I really learned was that I will never, ever drag anyone I love to couples’ yoga, because no one looks good their first time. At least two of those couples were in fights when they left the studio, and I’m guessing most of those guys were sorely disappointed when they got home and were not more flexible, but just really sore.
February 15 has since become one of my favorite holidays, in part because all the chocolate is way on sale at the grocery store, but mostly because it means I’ve gone one more year without having experienced couples’ yoga. Win.