At 3:25 p.m. I’m not feeling very centered. I’m stuck in the far right lane on the I-15, and it’s blocked. So is the far left lane. A sea of hot, angry metal is funneling northward, and the Wanderlust yoga festival’s afternoon class starts in five minutes. I try to breathe deeply. This blows.
“God is everywhere in Vegas,” instructor and Anusara yoga founder John Friend says to the Lululemon-clad crowd sitting before him when I finally arrive at the Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Pool. His voice has the calming drone of a cult leader, but his monologue is peppered with jokes about Las Vegas, this odd setting for the traveling yoga retreat. The thump of bass from Marquee Dayclub rises now and then as if to prove his point.
Soon we’re standing on our mats trying to “separate our groins” and “spiral our hips.” I’m not sure what that means, but I try anyway. Friend tells us to push our knees together, closing off our pelvises. “If you stay like that you won’t have any fun tonight,” he chuckles into the microphone.
For the next hour we work through poses and stretches a few stories above the Strip. Just when I’m feeling like an abused Gumby toy, a smiley assistant comes over to pull my body further in directions it doesn’t comfortably go. I grin and wonder if I’ll be able to tell when my muscles start to shred.
To finish, we lie still, relax our bodies and listen to Friend talk again in that smooth, steady voice, a nice puddle of calm starting to set in. Then I hear a light snore from the yoga mat next to me. Her breathing is steady. She’s feeling centered. She’s fast asleep.