Namaste Miami - Trashy Yoga

Birds chirp and the homeless snore. It’s 7 o’clock at the 3rd Street lifeguard stand on South Beach one recent morning. The sand is still strewn with remnants of the night before. At this spot, a daily yoga class is organized by Synergy Center. It’s a cheapo's alternative -- only $5 bucks -- in a world of $17 classes.

There’s this romantic notion that practicing amidst waves and sun can usher one to a deeper peace. So far, I’m just sleepy. I loiter near a man shaving under an umbrella. Ten minutes after 7 o'clock, I spy another loiterer. It's Peter, a practitioner for fifteen years, wearing swim trunks and shades. He's a regular. "This is one of my favorite things about living here."

He unrolls his beach towel. I lay on my mat and unsuccessfully ignore the lump of sand wedged in my back. His enthusiasm is not infectious. A teacher never shows. (This is particularly peeving because I called the day before.)

A middle-aged blonde in hot pink pants approaches and offers to teach. I’m skeptical and consider whether her teaching "certification" came from Rodney Yee DVDs she memorized from Target. It’s too early to protest. She guides us into a sliver of shade. I move my mat to cleanest, not-so-clean spot between a shredded bag and a tampon. Her instruction is basic but solid with sun salutations, hip openers and twists and I'm grateful.

Sand plastered to my legs distracts me from breathing. My spine feels off-kilter in downward dog. The sun makes me squint. My focal point during tree pose is a stray bottle cap. For a brief moment, I become yogic, and feel at peace under the blue sky. Then, a jack hammer pounds. Romantic notions are often broken by dirtier realties. Perhaps that's my lesson for this day.

-- Janine Zeitlin

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