Last Sunday night, I braced myself for the face-melting chill to meet a friend at a Women Rejuvenation Circle at Daya Yoga I had been promising her, for months, that I would attend.
The Women Rejuvenation Circle is held every week at Daya Yoga. It’s billed as a “co-created experience of women supporting women through guided meditation and an emotional check-in honoring our bodies’ sacred sensuality.” It had New Year’s resolution written all over it.
New Year’s resolutions are fatally flawed in my opinion, the problem being that no one holds you accountable. There is no line manager for resolutions. Only you can be your motivator, your monitor.
When I picked up my circle sister from her apartment, chivalrous friend that I am, only her eyes were visible beneath the layers of scarves, hats and other cold weather accouterment. “I’m so glad we’re doing this,” she encouraged, threading her arm through mine. “I’m just looking forward to the King Noodle dinner I’m rewarding myself with on the walk home,” I replied flatly.
We trudged along Flushing Avenue, shivering, until we reached Daya Yoga, one of the many local hotspots for those seeking enlightenment and physical flexibility.
Entering the studio, we were greeted by our circle leader, Susannah, who resembles a young Susan Sarandon, with flowers in her hair and voice so sing-songy I wasn’t sure if she was joking or not. “Hello, sisters! Welcome, take a seat around the altar!” she cooed.
Immediately my British cynicism began to course through my veins. Sure, my resolutions were to meditate, meet new people and become more enlightened, and here I was, at a place that offered me all three, but I wasn’t ready! I couldn’t do it!
Sarcasm is my sriracha sauce: I put it on everything and I keep it in my handbag. How was I supposed to be sincere and open in a room full of complete strangers for two excruciating hours? Any motion I made towards the exit was met with a sharp glance from my friend, so, defeated, I took my place in the circle.
Susannah lit some candles and that trusty yoga studio staple, sage, and began by asking us to sit with eyes closed. The first part of class was made up of a guided meditative journey through our chakras, starting at the root chakra and working our way up the body to the crown chakra. Chakras, in case you are unaware, are the seven centers of spiritual power in the body, and we all have them— yes, even you, dear reader!
Susannah explained what each chakra meant and how it affected our bodies and spirits. The language she used was, of course, fairly flowery, but she spoke with sagacity, and I found something inspiring in each speech she gave as we moved through the body. Being a meditation novice, however, I must report that did find myself drifting in and out of this section of the class, which I am sure is more a reflection on my own levels of concentration than Susannah’s guidance.
Feeling relaxed and fairly calm, we moved into what became my favorite section of the rejuvenation circle, the “check-in.” With eyes open and postures relaxed, we were told that we would now go around the circle and, after sharing our names, would talk about how we were feeling in our hearts, heads and yonis (vaginas).
As a self-professed nosy person, this section, I was sure, would be a fun opportunity for finding out juicy details about the personal lives of strangers. I was dying to know what kinds of odd sexual habits, bad break up stories and nagging neuroses were lurking amongst my sisters. If I’d had access to popcorn, this would have been the moment to open the bag.
One of the younger members of the group kicked off the check-in session. To my amazement (and shame), what she talked about was not men or eating ice cream in bed at 4 a.m., but rather choosing to follow her own dreams rather than submitting to family pressure. She talked about wanting to travel and not just wanting it, but actually doing it.
In fact, as we moved around the circle, we heard from a woman with an ambition to appear on Broadway, a Lebanese designer who was in New York to launch a fashion label, a freelancer who had just given up her day job to work for herself (and was terrified!) and a quietly spoken woman who wanted to see the good in herself that others assured her was there.
Before I knew it, I was talking about my own struggles as a freelance writer and actor, wondering how long I could continue this hand to mouth existence, words I had never said out loud to anyone before, other than my partner. In response, I saw eight women nodding back, understanding and sympathizing. I could not find a sarcastic word to say.
The final portion of the class was comprised of a Taoist breast massage. Don’t worry, you massage your own breasts, no one else’s, but also, do worry, because you do this part topless. Shirts off and tits to the wind, rose oil was passed around and there we were, rubbing our breasts to a soundtrack of pan pipes.
Now, I could tell you how incredibly liberating this felt, and it did feel liberated, but what surprised me most was how comforting I found it to take a look at eight sets of breasts.
Sometimes you just want to know that you’re normal. Sometimes you just need to look at a roomful of topless women to see where you fit in in the world.
Here in the Women Rejuvenation Circle on a snowy Sunday night in Bushwick, I had the chance to realize that no one’s breasts are symmetrical, and that nipple colors can resemble a pantone pinterest board.
With our shirts back on and the candles burning down to the wick, we closed the circle with a group mantra. Holding hands, we chanted in full voices: “My pussy, my power! My pussy, my power!” Our voices resonated around the lofty room and presumably out into the night to confuse bemused dog walkers and idle passers by.
Despite all the sitting, I felt energized and happy—one might even say rejuvenated. We rolled up our mats and cocooned ourselves in our winter coats, ready to face the world beyond the circle. I walked out with the freelancer who had just left her job, and as we parted ways on the corner, she turned said, “See you next week?”
“Um, yes, yes, see you next week,” I replied with a certainty that surprised me. Maybe that’s the key to New Year’s resolutions: don’t do it alone. Instead, find a stranger whose breasts you’ve seen and secrets you’ve heard and make a commitment to her. That’s got to better than SoulCycle.
Featured image: Courtesy of Daya Yoga.