The Story of a Training: Chapter One

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1. Margaret Welch can no longer fully extend her left knee, and Kate O’Shea has parasites. Sue mouths, did she just say parasites? I nod. I’ve been to alternative doctors, and am familiar with sensitive ideopathic gastrointestinal tribulations. I’ve battled many-rounds-of-herbs-and-diets-and-curled-up-in-fetal-position-in-a-public-bathroom-IBS and been diagnosed with a parasite or two myself. But I do not feel the need to share. How is this relevant? Sue shakes her head. 

There are thirty-six woman and five men here for Ana Forrest’s advanced teacher training so it takes over an hour to get through everyone's injuries, and we are instructed to take careful notes so we will know how to modify poses for each other during practice teaching.  

When it’s Jennifer Winter’s turn, she lists two lumbar herniations, inflammation in the cartilage around her heart, two plates and thirteen screws in her jaw, and a right foot sprain. Sue Yie had multiple surgeries for stomach tumors and Destiny Silverly has acute bicep tendonitis, SI joint instability and digestion issues. Then there is Tim Poire. At eighteen months he narrowly escaped death, run over by a neighbor's U-Haul, surviving only to live encased in a body cast and subjected to multiple surgeries for many years to come. You wouldn't know by looking at him.

2. Each day we’re expected in the studio at 7am sharp and if we’re not there, we’re locked out. There is a box of plastic egg shakers being passed around and folders of song lyrics; this is called morning circle. I do not want to take an egg shaker. I do not feel festive. Maybe it would be easier if there were a camp fire, and s'mores. The others know every chant like shiny-faced returning summer campers, taking their places like fluttering bees; groupies, all sitting against the wall eagerly gazing at Ana.

The first song goes, wishita do ya do ya do ya, wishy ta do ya do ya hey, a Native American chant because this is Ana's heritage. Someone asks what they mean and she says they can't be translated directly, but some are wake-up songs a villager would walk around singing to stir everyone out of bed. The same chant may be sung when the crop is good, or when the crop is poor, she says, when the rain is needed, or the sun too bright.

Ana sits at the front of the room under windows, beating a drum with one fuzzy stick, her very long braid spilling from the ponytail on top of her head, draping against her cheek and snaking around her shoulder. She considers herself a queen, an elder, a strong leader. She’s flanked by her husband who wears something that is a cross between long underwear and tights and her assistant, a chocolatey gazelle-legged woman named Lumani sits in lotus position with a shawl around her shoulders and a color coordinated bandana to match her outfit.  

Erin Jade