Hair After Jivamukti

Not my hair. HAIR. The musical. Went with a friend to Jivamukti, then to dinner at Nios at the Muse Hotel, then to Hair, my favorite favoritest musical of all time, except for, possibly Rent. (But Hair is a part of my childhood. I memorized the soundtrack as a child. Rent, is the musical my kids memorized during THEIR childhood. I prefer the ending of Rent, but I prefer the music and emotional power of Hair. Maybe I should just let it be a toss-up.)

The Jivamukti class was pretty damn good. The teacher was clearly a newbie. Her chanting was hard to follow despite that it was “Om Asatoma Sat Gamaya”, which I happen to know by rote due to Sir’s drilling it into our heads during Pranayama and Philosophy class a few years ago. She also went through the Guru chant (Guru Bramha, Guru Vishnu, Guru etc…), but again, it was so difficult to follow her – she used the exact same chanting tune as she did for Om Asatoma, which I was JUST getting used to as being tied to the Om Asatoma words – that I ended up just shutting up. But no big deal. I don’t care much about the chanting, and for the most part, would go out of my way to MISS that part when I used to be a Jiva regular. I would walk in and settle in right about the time the songbooks were being put away.

The Jiva teacher’s dharma talk was just a reading of something Sharon Gannon had written a about spiritual paths. It was kind of awkward, as if she was reading it for the first time. Again, who cares? I’m there for the asana. And the asana ROCKED.

I found the sequencing to be nearly perfect for me. I wasn’t sure if everyone would like it – we plopped down for Ardha Matsyandrasana right after we did Parsvakonasana not long after we started doing standing poses. But I am happy to do seated poses at this point because of the cast on my hand. Seated poses present fewer challenges for me modifcation-wise. Turns out my friend agreed, albeit for different reasons: she found the sequence so vigorous that she really was “ready” to take a few breaths from a seated pose at that point. Nice! Perhaps this particular possibly newbie teacher has a particular special talent for sequencing.

Indeed. When we got to the floor, for real, she did a hip opening sequence that allowed me to Dwi Pada Sirsasana with seemingly zero effort. My friend commented afterward that she was shocked when she caught me out of the corner of her eye making myself into “a human pretzel”.

Ha. If she ever came to a shala…she would be rather unimpressed, I would imagine.

And there’s the rub. At Jivamukti, in other yoga studios, there is no agenda. No linear progress. Sure, I could feel stiff on any given Jivamukti practice day, or I could have a shitty practice for one reason or another. But there is never any fear that anyone is going to accuse me of being a…wait for it…CRIMINAL!!! HAHAHAHA. Sounds so ludicrous, but yes, it would be (first two fingers making quotation marks around my face) “CRIMINAL” to modify Compass Pose (if it existed) into Eka Pada Sirsasana in an Ashtanga Class, or to do Eka Pada Sirsasana if I was not first invited to do so by my teacher.

And speaking of teacher again…this teacher saw my broken hand and wanted to give me a full-on-body assist in the Sun Salutations, which I was very carefully modifying on forearms. I dropped down to forearm plank, and the teacher appeared straddled over me. I turned around and waved my cast and shook my head. Instead of backing off, she was like, “I saw that…I was going to help you do it with your cast.” I very politely declined. Seriously? What was she THINKING? She was going to hold me up while I pretended to put my hand on the floor? What would be the point. At any rate, I have had that assist many a time in my years at Jiva, and it is quite brutish. No precision at all, which is fine if you don’t have…a BROKEN HAND. This was another reason that I imagined that she was a new teacher. A more seasoned teacher would leave a broken limb alone. Dontcha think?

Again though…not that it was bad. It was a delightful class. EXCEPT for one other thing. VERY poor choices in music. Kind of headbanging rock to open the flow portion of class. The first tunes to open a flow class should be of the same ilk as “Alone” (classic Jivamukti class opener), “Jai Hanuman” by Krishna Das, Coldplay’s “God Put a Smile on Your face”, Enigma’s “Principles of Lust” or Zero Seven’s “In the Waiting Line”, If you MUST have the head banging rock – I like Rush’s “Red Barchetta”, for example, add it when things are already flowing.

None of this is to say that I did not thoroughly enjoy class. And I thanked the teacher and told her what a lovely hip opening sequence she devised.

What I did not love, what repulsed me, was the changing room. Oh my god. Hot and sticky, dirty shower- with hair on the floor that stuck to my foot at one point, water all over the floor due to an a absense of floor mats, even, for gosh sake, teak floor mats, if we want to be environmentally friendly. I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there, so I had to get dressed while still totally soaking wet, which is so unpleasant with or without a broken hand and a cast that prevents the use of the opposable thumb.

Next, dinner at Nios, which used to be, I think, District. The food was delicious but the service was downright awkward. I don’t feel like explaining it, but suffice it to say that it involved a prixe fixe menu where the waiter demanded to know if you were going to want dessert BEFORE you even had your first drink in front of you. How can you know? Explaining the awkward, he told us that the computer system charges you a la carte if you don’t order all the prixe fixe courses.

Dude. We don’t want to know about your computer system. We’re just trying to have dinner. Not surprisingly, when the bill came, there was more awkward, because the bill did not reflect three prix fixe meals and one a la cart, as it should have. This was because my friend ordered her dessert AFTER her meal. The computer system, which we really should NOT have known about in the first place, could not handle that information in a logical manner and charged her for, I don’t know…another dinner? Something odd like that.

Again…don’t want to KNOW about your computer system. Just want to be served and pampered a bit and then pay. Smoothly.

Without having it all deconstructed.

Hair was phenomenal. I always fall in love with it, whenever I see it, and I have seen it countless times over the years. I always also fall in love with Claude every time I see it. And then I dissolve into tears when he comes out in his last scene…….(spoiler alert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

his emblematic hair shorn, an army uniform on his peacefeul, teenage, clueless body that should never ever ever be allowed anywhere near a gun….if this were an army movie, Claude would be the one who would die during boot camp, and if not then, then he would step on a land mine on the first hike in enemy territory, here one minute, waxing about the beasts in the forest, gone the next second. Having seen Hair numerous times and listened to the soundtrack since the day it came out – thanks Mom and Dad – obsessively memorizing every lyric, I know where this is going. Unlike as in Rent, there is no resurrection when the inevitable happens.

So there I am weeping, bent over my legs crying into my knees, and Claude jumps up for the curtain calls. “Let The Sun Shine” changes to a bit more upbeat version, and everyone around me is getting ready to run up on stage and dance.

Look, I just have a SERIOUS problem with teenagers getting sent off to war, to die for their country. I have an even MORE serious problem with teenagers who neither understand nor believe in the war getting sent off to die for their country. And an even MORE more serious problem with the parents of these same teens, when those parents withhold their love and support, making no effort to understand their own children…the implication seemed to be that had Claude had any parental support, any other possibilities besides living on the streets moment to moment, he might not have had to go at all. Perhaps he would have stayed in school. Perhaps, like my dad he would have gotten married and had a baby.

I think…I am not positive about this…that I am a Vietnam Baby. A shield against the draft. Born in 1965, I seem to have heard murmerings of this sort of thing.

Anyway, Gavin Creel’s Claude is MAGIC. That’s the only word for him. Will Swenson was so adept at playing Berger as an irritating, obnoxious, cocky and of the moment-ly arrogant late-teenage boy, that it made me consider for the first time in all the times I’ve seen Hair, how young and unformed these kids were, yet facing such terrible, life-altering choices.

This was also the first Hair production I’ve seen in which the Jesus/Religion imagery came through so, hmmmm, for lack of a better word, passionately. Claude as Christ. Claude as spiritual leader, compassionate, kind and decent even when treated poorly. Claude as sacrificial. Claude as resurrected in acid trips. It’s not a strong connection, but even to a non-Catholic, it somehow adds power to the message. Not sure why. Purely a visceral thing.

It is also the first Hair production I’ve seen as a mother. And I really felt my age. These kids up there: they are not my peers. Even if I hadn’t been busy wiping my tears during the curtain call, I don’t think I would have put myself up there to dance on stage. I felt it was for the younger crowd, those who still might hope to dance on a Broadway stage for real someday. Not for me, a middle-aged woman in a sundress and cardigan, living an upper middle class life which would have provided all the exemptions my children ever needed to dodge the draft bullet in the 1960’s.

That made me feel my age more than anything else has in my life. I need to work on
feeling okay with that. With my age. With the passage of time.

Meanwhile, I have to go read some online guides to “parents protecting teens on internet social networks”, since I discovered yesterday that my 12-year old has a YouTube account, is a sometimes-contributer to discussions on YouTube regarding the band, Green Day, and its lead singer, elfish Billie Joe Armstrong, and has YouTube “friends” with names like “Green Day Girl” who said in a recent message, “Itunes always fucks up the album year”. I mean, who the HELL is Green Day Girl?

Oy. I feel uneasy. But I have six more weeks before he is home again, so I have plenty of time to read up on how to keep him safe during these interactions. But I do feel uneasy.

Woooo!!! Is my head spinning or what?



2 Responses to Hair After Jivamukti

  1. Karen says:

    Safe Eyes. That's the cyber-parenting software we use. It's great!

    Thank you for your blog.

  2. LI Ashtangini says:

    We found porn on the 12-year-old's laptop. Or, his mother did. THAT was a fun conversation…..

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