Sideways by Amanda Amatucci
SIDEWAYS – by Amanda Amatucci
April 6th, which will mark my fourth week of quarantine, a chain of events will slowly begin to show themselves. My husband and I have fallen into enough of a routine at this point; waking up, showering, and off to “work” taking to our respective corners of the house. The work from home has proven its struggle; his Zoom meetings with clients and colleagues and my virtual classroom answering the same 1,000 questions over a 7-hour “school session.”
Being that my family means the world to me, I always make sure everybody has what they need, especially my beloved grandparents. I hit the stores with my quarantine chic, mask, gloves, an outfit that is a step above pajamas, and I hit the grocery store like a pro. I weave in and out of aisles, collecting what I can as fast as I can and fully aware that there will be someone who will bring to my attention eventually that I “forgot something.” I will have to explain that it wasn’t available diplomatically, and the thought of that brings even more sweat than the mask is causing. All that is getting me through this whole hour of “supermarket sweepstakes” is Stacey Bell’s yin class is waiting for me.
Circling back to April 6th, it was my grandmother’s birthday, and we had sent home a bouquet in the grocery delivery with my grandfather. As I was leaving the table to run up the stairs at 9:01 pm (yin started at 9:00 pm) computer in hand and phone in the other, my grandmother called. As I was logging into the computer and pulling up the class invitation email, my grandmother was fawning over the flowers and thanking me for thinking of her. The computer now open, I was beginning to say goodbye to my Italian-American grandmother (this is not a short process in our culture) when I clicked on the link to open the Zoom live stream at 9:04 pm. The session opened up with a clear image of Ms. Bell seated, eyes closed, guiding breathwork. What I hadn’t realized was my computer was UNMUTED…so, my grandmother’s piercing voice, sharing her final salutation, flooded the tranquil setting disturbing their established whoosahhh. I. WAS. MORTIFIED. And if I wasn’t sure what just happened, my teacher removed her hands from her knees, still keeping her eyes closed, turned her palms to the ceiling, and shrugged her shoulders, cocking her head to the side with a certain “you gotta be kidding me” flair.
After quickly hitting mute on the meeting settings, I felt like everything was under control, and I got away scot-free when another one of my beloved teachers took the time to send a message to the meeting host requesting a double-check that all participants were muted. This, however, was only the beginning of the tragicomedy of the evening’s yin class. Not long after everyone resettled into their deep moments of peace, we all came to our backs to release tension from the hips and activate our kidney-bladder meridian. Taking our supine orientation, I looked to the demonstration of Stacey to refine my movements, but the hip opening I was witnessing was not of Stacey’s. Their family dog, Bailey, had also been inspired to open her hips at the very same moment…on Stacey’s leg.
An uncomfortable giggle from my computer echoed into the room I was practicing in to which my giggle responded. With the grace and poise you would expect from Stacey, she politely shooed Bailey off her lower extremity, but was unsuccessful. After several attempts to terminate Bailey’s hip opening sequence, she gave notice to everyone in the class of what she described as her “real-life moment,” and called to her daughter to collect Bailey. The first two calls were a matter of fact and even-toned. The third was one that sounded very much like any mother’s third and final call — serious and sharp –which communicated the underlying assumption that the lack of response to the first two calls would be discussed later.
I cannot say what stopped Bailey from participating in the rest of the class, but I was feeling confident that the second half of the class would be smoother than the first. That was, of course, until the video stream from Stacey’s device cut out. The meeting’s host tuned in to class and let Stacey know we lost her video feed. As we continued to remain passive in the pose, we were bathed in soothing muffled sounds of hands sliding around the malfunctioning phone, and stimulated by pensive views of the Bell’s kitchen, ceiling, floor, a gorgeous black and white headshot of Stacey, kitchen again, what I think was a thumb and then the floor. The next still frame that greeted us was the stable smile of Stacey, coupled with a small soft laugh; you could not help but smile with her given her elegance throughout this series of unfortunate events.
Class ended just as beautifully as it started, just a bit more quiet and peaceful as Stacey wished us all a restful night of sleep. The mics were unmuted for everyone to send their love to our unwavering teacher who kept it together despite the curveballs thrown her way. We all thanked her for her incredible guidance, as I couldn’t help but feel as if I were the one who tipped over the salt shaker and brought the bad luck to class. I soon realized that all of this was just another yogic life lesson – it might not always be perfect, predictable, or what we expect, but all we can do is bend so we do not break. Continue to sit through the fire on your mats, my friends so that we can sit through the fire off our mats.