by Annette Dashofy
I’m a yoga instructor who writes mysteries, striving to become a mystery writer who teaches yoga. My students fret that when I become rich and famous, I will abandon them. Fat chance. First, they don’t realize that mystery writers rarely become rich and famous. As in almost never. Second, I love my day job (actually my night job since I teach in the evening) and have no intention of quitting.
But my two chosen occupations do make for a life of contradictions. All day I write about the backside world of a second rate Thoroughbred racetrack where all sorts of seedy characters cause problems for my protagonist. And when things get really bad for her, I throw something else at her to make it worse. More tension, I need more tension on each page. Who can I kill off now?
Then I change into my yoga clothes and head to the Yoga Center with its white walls and white carpet, the faint scent of incense wafting on the air currents created by the white ceiling fans. A CD plays in the background sending the soft droning tones of a harmonium into the tranquil space decorated with lovely paintings of Hindu deities and tiles bearing the Sanskrit figure Om. Black and white photographs of past gurus in our yoga lineage gaze down at me while I encourage my stressed-out students to breathe, to seek out the tension they hold in their bodies and to let it go, feel it peel away like the layers of an onion, release it into the earth.
At the end of class, providing I’ve done my job, my students leave the center wearing smiles of bliss.
How do I reconcile these two diametrically opposite lifestyles? I don’t. I gave up years ago. When people ask, I tell them I’m a complex person. Those who know me, laugh.
The fact is I have developed a deep friendship with tension. I’ve learned how to build it, to twist it to suit my needs and I’ve learned how to turn it off, to send it packing when I no longer have a use for it. This is an interesting skill in today’s world. Everywhere we turn, stress lurks. As a society, high blood pressure (also known as HyperTENSION) and heart disease have become as common as…well…the common cold. Almost. And how many of the illnesses that attack us are triggered in some way by stress?
So I’ll keep my connections to the yoga world and my yoga students, some of whom, by the way, are mystery fans! We all need to find some way to let go of the day. I will go to class tonight and teach Downward Facing Dog and Triangle and finish with the relaxation of savasana. Then I’ll come home and torture my protagonist again.
Incidentally, I have read that my favorite of the gurus in the photographs at the Yoga Center, Swami Rudrananda, was a huge fan of Agatha Christie. Maybe these two lifestyles aren’t so diametrically opposite after all.