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I will be away from Berlin, and thus my regular yoga classes, from late September through December 2016. In the meantime, here’s a sexy yoga story for you :More
It was an evening class at a small studio in a back courtyard in Berlin. The room was packed wall-to-wall with yogis, and it had been a hot summer day. I wanted to open the windows for fresh air, but recently a neighbor had complained of a loud American voice floating into the courtyard in incessant talk (me … teaching). So the windows were shut tight and I was whispering instructions to 30 contorted bodies.
We centered and engaged breath. Saluted the sun. Some warriors. Probably a balance or two. Chattaranga. Up dogs. Down dogs. Most likely a singing-bowls-with-layered-theta-waves-and-sonic-oms (no flutes!) playing over the speakers on low. Pigeon pose. Back bends. Forward bends. Invert. Twist twist. And finally, everyone on their backs for Savasana.
They settled into the group mini-nap, I shut my mouth, opened the windows – all of them – nice and wide, and set myself all lotus proper at the front of the room below the open windows to preside over the Savasana. About one minute into the relaxed silence I heard soft sounds of moaning coming through the windows. It didn’t take long to realize it was the sound of sex.
Well, shit … this could be uncomfortable.
I tried to maintain the fantasy that the yogis were so deep in Savasana they would not hear. The moaning continued and got a bit louder. I weighed the options. Jump up and shut all the windows, creating noise and distraction in the room, or just continue to believe no one would notice and it would be better to just sit still and maintain equipoise. The moans went on, rising in crescendo. It was clearly a woman and a man, in what I imagine was some nearby apartment. The moans got louder and faster. Again I considered shutting the windows, but instead of making a move I turned to the hopeless power of thought to keep the room from hearing the sex. Often, when I’m teaching, if there is something in the space that makes me uncomfortable, or might disrupt the equanimity, I try to believe that by actively ignoring it it will remain unnoticed by everyone else as well. If only.
But the moans continued, and got louder … and faster … and louder and faster and then … clearly, a climax was in the works. I panicked, silently cursing my inability, through the power of thought, to stop the sex. The moans evolved into fast-paced screaming pants, and the relaxed, supine and closed-eyed yogis ALL burst into LOUD laughter.
The sexing couple went silent. Damn, I think their climax was interrupted.
Well, that broke the ice and identified the elephant in the room, but the yoga class was not finished. I still had get these people into a crossed leg seat and Om it out – tasks now seemingly ridiculous in the face of our aural encounter with sexy neighbors. Between laughs, the yogis’ and mine, I invited deeper breath, movement of fingertips and toes, and rotation of arms and legs. Going through the prescribed yoga motions was pretty pointless here. The yogis were wide awake and aware of their surroundings, but nonetheless I kept at it. Sit tall. Giggles. Stretch arms overhead. Giggles. Hands to prayer pose. Everyone knew these finishing touches were ridiculous, but I was on a mission to finish this class the way I finish all classes, with a group “OM.” We quieted down and exhaled to prepare for Om. Deep inhale— and … instead of a long, sustained Om, out of the exhale came another burst of mass laughter. Some might say it was inappropriate to trade a disciplined Om for an unconfined laugh. And yet, I would say it was perfect.
For we should be focused, and breathing and concentrating together in yoga classes. And we should also be having loud sex that flows into courtyards. We should be sounding sacred Om’s in harmonic time. And we should be laughing, loudly and spontaneously, in large groups, and perhaps even at the wrong time and at the expense of someone else’s climax.
It’s all yoga!
After that epic Savasana, I no longer felt shy about speaking too loud when teaching with windows open on a warm summer’s eve.
Tino Sehgal Palais de Tokyo, Paris
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Publication: The Best Residency Program, Open to All — Sleep / Performance Research 21(1)