Shift 20: Practice


This is what I see when I wake up. I got new clothes, a purple hoodie that I love and some t-shirts. I feel happy to see my hoodie hanging there, on an actual clothes hanger. And then when I look across the divide and see Marquise’s gray hoodie hanging on an actual hanger, too, I feel so happy I can’t stay in bed any more. I gotta get up and bounce!

This is what I hear when I wake up: Xavier murdering racoons. He says he’s gotta practice if he wants to make orchestra, and he’s got to make orchestra, because have you seen the first violinist? He says she’s gorgeous.


Amy Guajardo practices every morning, too. Even though she’s learning the keyboard, her music sounds good. I guess it’s easier to play something that you just push keys on, rather than having to draw a horse-hair bow across tiny metal threads.


When I wake up early enough, I like to shoot a few hoops before school. I suck at basketball. But with practice, right?

So far we’re all pretty bad at it. I’ve got this idea, though, that we can make a team and compete in Five on Five.


Since YOTO is run by actual yogis, we’ve got yoga classes all the time. They open up classes for the community, too, when we’re at school, and they make a lot of money that way. But the morning and evening sessions are reserved for us. Aadhya, the coordinator, usually teaches them. I like her classes.


Amy asked me once why I thought they had yoga here. I mean it’s obvious: We learn focus. And that helps with everything.

She said, no. That wasn’t why. It’s so we stop rebelling.

“We accept, right? And then, when crappy stuff happens, we accept it. It sounds like selling out to me.”

I was about to say something when she continued.

“It sounds like selling out. But it’s not, really. See, Vivaan told me that the only way you can really change anything–yourself, other people–well, you can’t change other people–but the world–is by accepting first. Accept, then change.”


I guess we all get something different out of yoga. We get what we need.

I asked Aadhya about that after class one day.

“Can yoga be different things to different people?”

She got real still and looked at me for a while.

“Yoga involves looking within to meet the true nature of the mind, body, and emotions. Are your mind, body, and emotions different than those of other people?”


I didn’t know how to answer her. At first, the answer was “Yes!” But then, the more I looked at the question, the answer mutated into “No.” So now I wonder if our minds, being in a body, and having emotions makes us more similar than different.

I don’t know, though. I was still thinking that over when I had a weird conversation with one of the volunteers there. This lady was telling me that she usually just contributes money. But that lately, she’s been contributing time and money.

“And taking classes, too!”


“Yoga does me good,” she said. “It keeps me young. It helps me understand what they mean by ‘inner riches,’ you know?”

She droned on and on. I stopped listening. Next thing I knew, she was offering to get me a make-over.

“You’d look real pretty with a new hair-cut, a little make-up, and a nice new wardrobe . You’ve got a rocking bod–might as well show it off!”


I closed my eyes and breathed.

In me was a little ball of rage that wanted to explode out and hurt somebody. I was triggered. My uncle used to say stuff like that to me, before Gran forbade him from coming over. “Put on a dress, why dontcha? You’d be real pretty. You’re a pretty girl. Show some leg!” I wanted to punch him. After he started doing stuff, I wanted to kill him.

Now I felt that rage stirring up from the back of my brain, down through my spine and out to my fingers. My fists were clenched. I simply noticed it.

I breathed.

Acceptance. Yeah, I can see that maybe yoga does teach that. It beats useless anger, at any rate.

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