“EXHALE SLOWLY,” the yoga instructor said in a soothing voice. Alexandra exhaled her breath and relaxed her muscles. As she exhaled, she consciously focused on releasing all of her worries. Her body was in the bridge pose, so her navel faced the twirling ceiling fan.
“Inhale through your nose,” came the second instruction. Alexandra inhaled and the sound of her breath filled her ears. She held the pose for what seemed like a lifetime as the base of her neck pressed against the floor.
“Release,” came the blessed instruction, finally. Automatically, Alexandra moved into corpse pose. She had been practicing yoga for three months and was finally feeling confident about her poses. She knew that there was still a long way to go, but she was getting there. Her mind was relaxed as she felt the warm caress of the sunlight travel along her torso. A smile spread across her face as she focused on existing entirely in the moment. Without thought, she moved fluidly between all of the yoga positions.
Her eyes opened and her mind returned when the instructor ended the session, “Thank you for attending, Namaste.”
“Namaste,” Alexandra replied with her palms together. As she rolled up her mat, she looked around at the other patrons. All were covered in sweat, all wearing modern yoga shorts and tops. Only the instructor wore the loose-fitting, traditional clothes of Kundalini yoga. Karen, the instructor, stood at the head of the class in conversation with a few of the patrons.
Turning away from everyone else, Alexandra studied her figure in the large mirror that lined the wall of the room. Her eyes wandered across her own body and she felt pleasure at seeing the results of her many yoga sessions. The pink and black yoga pants fit perfectly along her dark calves and hips. Slender, yet toned, she admired her own hourglass figure in the mirror. Her eyes glanced at her glistening ebony skin and the few beads of sweat that dotted her skin from the overly warm room. She released her curly hair from the clasp of a bun and watched as it cascaded down her shoulders.
With a broad smile, she turned to leave the room. She walked toward the door and placed her hand on the warm metal doorknob. As the door pushed forward, she looked over her shoulder to say goodbye to her instructor. She noticed Karen and a man speaking with each other, their eyes looking at Alexa’s toned figure. Dismissing the glances, she turned away with a cheery wave.
A few blocks down the street was her favorite café, the one that she went to after yoga class. As she walked there, she could feel the eyes of other people watching her—mostly men. Not long ago after making a steady income, she had moved to a more upscale segment of town. As one of the few African-Americans in town, she drew stares that ranged from curious to desirous whenever she went out. She did not mind the ogling, but it was the catcalls that ate at her. Catcalls were so vulgar and seemed cowardly. If someone wanted to speak to her, then she would prefer that they were up front with her. She felt that a real man would be one who says what he means and does not just yell something out of a speeding car window.