Yoga Class, a short horror story

Acceptance, Calm, Peace in handwritten letters on the door, surrounded by three white hearts. This is it. How did Alice talk me into this? I don’t like yoga. I don’t like people in tight overpriced clothes. I don’t like preaching about mindfulness and the lessons of the universe, so I can be the best version of me. I don’t like to be any version of me.
‘Lena! You made it!’ Alice says and she takes my coat. ‘I thought you would bail.’
‘I can’t say no, you know that.’
‘Don’t worry, you’ll love it,’ Alice looks around to spot someone. ‘Ratri is not like other teachers.’
She pours me a jasmine tea and I follow her to an area where a troop of women are gathered on triangle cushions, looking lazily at us like lionesses under a tree. I lack the skill to drape myself with ease on these cushions and I sort of collapse to the floor. Alice places my tea in front of me and gives me a wink. She pretends this is all normal. That me being there is all normal. Alice is a great pretender.
‘My daughter has made a friend,’ a blonde says, looking around at all of us. ‘She’s absolutely wonderful, a little treasure. But her parents!’ She pauses, her eyes jump towards heaven and she addresses the red-dressed lady next to her. ‘They are not on our level at all. They allow candy and cola!’
‘No!’ Red says.
‘Karma,’ someone else says. The mentioning of karma sets off a wave of nods and noises that spreads through the group like a delicate lightning. Why don’t they believe that yoga makes them worthy for possession by a Hindu deity so that they can take over world power or something. No, the evil karma of candy is their main topic of interest.
‘Candy has interesting…,’ I start as she walks in. Instantly she draws all attention towards her. Ratri. She doesn’t smile, and she looks uncommon, excessively feminine, with her brown eyes and lush mouth, both slightly too big for her longish face. Her hair falls loose all the way to her hips, moving around her like a veil. But she moves like a man, goal oriented, tall, strong. She could be a belly dancer in silk gowns with bells, gracefully circling her arms or a warrior dashing forward, armed with spears, yelling a war cry. I can’t decide if she is beautiful. It depends on which part I look. She is too much to take in.
She nods and walks into the classroom. We follow her in silence, pious worshipers.

She stands with closed eyes on the platform in front of the class, her height towers over us. We busy ourselves with taking a mat and rolling them out in straight lines. Nobody smiles or makes eye contact. Are they nervous? Am I? I stand tall when I am ready with my arms on my back, like a soldier, the others around me do the same.
‘Namaste,’ she says and bows slightly. Her voice has a pleasant, dark warmth. ‘This morning we will continue our Ishvara practice. Today our focus is on lines 1.41 of the Yoga Sutras.’ She opens her hands. ‘As the patterning of consciousness subsides, a transparent way of seeing, called coalescence, saturates consciousness; like a jewel, it reflects equally whatever lies before it – whether subject, object or act of perceiving. Our intention today is to silence our consciousness, to be a reflective jewel, to absorb equally and all.’

A spiritual, solemn touch to start with a yoga sutra. Smart. It works like a charm; a couple of hard words to make it sound philosophical and deep and they gobble it up. Of course they love to see themselves as transparent seers, beautiful like a jewel. Karma conscious and candyproof.

She moves her palms and her face up, her feet take a wide stance. The class copies her. She doesn’t explain the moves, only her body speaks. Her muscle tone and elongated limbs clarify each position, clearer than any explanation could. Nobody chats or whimpers, no self-deprecating sighs, no pleased grins. Soon I am only focusing on myself. She moves organically from one pose to the next, and I follow. My balance is better than usual, my movement easier and free. I push myself, my muscles tremble and strain, my body is stronger than I thought. Slowly, the positions move to the floor. I stretch forward further and further, the pain invites me to fight the resistance, tightness ebbs away.

‘It is time for our Savasana practice. You can lay down on your back, let your feet fall out, palms up and close your eyes. Release your body to our intention. Silence your consciousness, visualize yourself as a reflective jewel, absorb equally and all. Surrender to the intention. Let your consciousness subside. Close your eyes and see transparently. Absorb equally and all. Absorb equally and all.’

I visualize my body as a huge amount of jello splashed out all over the mat.

‘Your consciousness subsides. Absorb equally and all.’

Something moves close to me. I take a tiny peek. The room is much darker. A shape is moving erratically over the floor. It is her, slithering like a snake, fast, within seconds her face hovers straight above Red. She is so close to her that she could kiss her. A dark cloud spews forcefully from her mouth, like the ink from a squid. It is not liquid, but it’s heavier than air. The cloud moves around the face of Red, embracing her body, making her less visible. Red’s boundaries fade.
She looks up, I quickly shut my eyes. Something is moving. Is she now hovering above me? A cold, slimy hand softly grabs the bare skin above my left sock. It pushes effortlessly inside my body. It is warming my leg, it takes up space inside me. My leg surrenders, it surrenders in anticipation, in hope. It is no longer mine, it is no longer part of me. The hand inside gets bigger, it moves up, taking up more of me, possessing more and more space. It plays with me, with all of me. I freeze in time and I cannot fight, I cannot do anything but surrender. Absorb. All.

A little bell. White lights in the ceiling above me. She sits in a lotus on the platform.
‘Slowly release your intention. You are now ready to sit.’
Red is in her place and she sits already.
‘Take the time you need to get up. I wish you all a good day.’
She leaves.
Some keep sitting, others roll their mats and take them away.
‘And?’ asks Alice.
I don’t know how to speak, nothing comes out.
‘Oh my, no snarky remarks!’ Alice smiles. ‘I told you she is good!’
Red passes me, completely spaced out.
‘I can see it on you!’ Blonde whispers to Red. ‘You had it today!’
‘Yes,’ Red says slowly. ‘It is unbelievable.’
‘I know, right!’ Blonde says.

Outside, eyes burn on me, I know it’s her. I look back and see her through a window on the second floor. Her face morphs to Red’s face. Moments later it morphs back.

She winks and disappears.

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