Doing Yoga With Dave Moffatt

Doing yoga with Dave Moffatt

“Thank you for coming to practice,” he says, adjusting the volume on his headset to make sure everybody can hear him. It hums as he fiddles with it, but I barely notice. I am too busy concentrating on the sound of his voice, the familiarity of it.

How is it possible life has come full circle like this? It perplexes and intrigues me how this version of my past could collide with my present in such a way. I imagine going back in time 15 years to tell a younger version of myself that this would be happening. I never would have believed it. I can barely believe it now.

But there he is: Dave Moffatt of the 1990s/early 2000s Canadian band the Moffatts, leading a free yoga class at Toronto’s Mountain Equipment Coop of all places. This is somebody I saw perform sold out concerts at some of the city’s biggest venues more than a decade ago. Friends of mine had scribbled his name in black Sharpie on neon posters from the dollar store, and although my favourite member (as it is customary to have a favourite member when you are a preteen-aged young woman) was the lead singer, I am still a little star struck being in the presence of somebody who helped define so much of my adolescence.

The Moffatts were my band. While my peers were drawn to choreographed pop stars like the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, I was taken by how the quartet of brothers played their own instruments and wrote their own songs. I liked the topics the Moffatts explored: first, young love and innocence; and later, in their best and final album, more complex issues such as sex and depression, matters not often associated with a band best known for a bubbly ballad called “I Miss You Like Crazy.”

But more than that, the Moffatts were my first introduction to a community that made me feel like I was finally part of something. Music made up for all the holes in my real life, the void other girls filled with boys, parties and other things I knew little of. The Moffatts brought a richness to my life. They were a catalyst for new friendships, some of which became life long, and they were the foundation of the quintessential preteen fantasy that boys like that could write songs about girls like me. But eventually this faded. My heart turned to real boys, new bands, and a growing circle of friends, and I no longer needed the Moffatts the way I once did. Yet seeing Dave in the flesh brings some of these feelings and memories back, and they come with a sort of sadness, filling me with this sinking awareness of how things that once seemed necessary can end.

***

It is a Sunday morning in mid November and it is snowing ever so lightly outside. By this point I am starting to get used to waking up at sunrise to go to yoga classes on weekends. In the months leading up to Dave’s class, I had started trading in late nights at the bar for early mornings at the studio in an attempt to introduce more balance into my life. I arrive to class eager and early, so I find myself drinking coffee in Starbucks and staring out the window down Spadina to pass the time.

As we ready for class a little later, I can’t help but almost stare at Dave. He is smaller than I imagined he would be, tiny and bendy. I watch as he contorts his body into inhuman shapes. I have been practicing yoga for just over eight months and am amazed by what my own body has learned to do. I wonder if mine too will be able to shape shift like that once I have the experience he has.

The previous night, I had been out celebrating my friend Erin’s birthday when I saw a guy who reminded me of Dave Moffatt. I hadn’t really thought about the Moffatts in a long time and I wondered what Dave looked like now. I Googled it, and as I began typing his name, “Dave Moffatt Yoga” came up.

My heart skipped a beat. That couldn’t be the Dave Moffatt could it? I knew he lived in Toronto. A friend had spotted him twice in her neighbourhood, once at the post office and another time while walking down the street. As the page loaded, my doubts quickly disintegrated: the keyboardist of a band I was once admittedly obsessed with was indeed now teaching yoga classes in my city. As fluke would have it, he had tweeted about a class taking place the very next day. “Are you teaching?” I giddily tweeted at him. He responded shortly after with a yes, you should come. Erin and I agreed to part ways and reconvene for class in the morning.

It takes all of my energy to not burst into laughter at how surreal everything feels the next day. I cannot make eye contact with Erin for it would surely push me over the edge and at times I can barely even look at Dave himself. But I get into the class, as you always do with yoga, and for a while I forget it is Dave teaching. I become lost in the flow, no longer even in the room but in another realm entirely. Just like with music. It only comes back to me when he adjusts me, repositioning my body just slightly. As he walks away I can’t help but mouth to Erin, “He touched me.”

The feeling is enough to make me aware once again of the strange nature of the situation. As the session winds down and we rise from savasana, he begins to chant melodically. Singing and chanting are not part of my usual yoga practice, but it feels almost right in that moment. Of course he has to sing.

When class ends I have to talk to him. Something inside of me needs him to acknowledge that this is real.

“Hi Dave,” I say as I stagger up to him. “Thanks for the great class.”

“Sheena, right?” He responds, surprising me. “I recognize you from Twitter. It’s nice to meet you!”

“Nice to meet you too,” I say, as if I hadn’t before. No teenybopper can go through her teenybopper career without the compulsory experience of at least one crazed autograph signing.

I smile. Nothing about this makes sense and yet somehow everything does. The coincidence forces me to truly reflect on where my life is now and on how much has changed since I last saw the Moffatts perform on stage. I am not the same girl I once was.

Yoga is powerful like that. It grounds you and makes you come to terms with things in the most meaningful way. The practice comes with an awareness and acceptance of your self and the things around you in a manner that is both internal and infinite. Something feels different as I walk away from class. I am aware of each snowflake, in awe of how beautiful everything looks in its dusting of white, and conscious of just how calm the world can be on a sleepy Sunday morning. Everything is in its place, and I feel exactly where I need to be.

***

Sheena Lyonnais is the founder of Blonde. Image from Tribe Fitness.

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January: Sequins and Shavasana

celia

In popular culture, January is regarded as a new beginning. As 2013 has been by far the most stressful year of my life, and that I have a recurring tendency to burn the candle at both ends, my resolutions for 2014 were to allow myself to welcome the unknown, to have a better balance, and to go where my heart leads me (cheesy but true).

At the end of last year, I was completely knackered, feeling the effects of a full-body burn-out. I finally took a much-needed hiatus, but towards late December, I started acting on my creative ideas again. I was much more relaxed, happier, and felt way less alienated than in the last semester. Surrounding myself with love definitely helped me to get back in touch with myself. But of course, as I could have predicted, my renewed energy made me twitchy about working again.

Just then, my best friend asked me if I wanted to work the door on New Year’s Eve at her job, a venue where she is the ticketing manager. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity. I sensed that working on New Year’s was a sign of success and of good things to come. Initially, I was disappointed to miss out on the yearly family dinner party on my father’s side because I rarely spend time with my extended family. Moreover, I was craving the delicious sugar pies and other Québécois holiday delicacies like tourtière (meat pies) cooked by my aunties. Unfortunately, instead of catching up with cousins, I had diner by myself, looking down on my broccoli with disappointment.

Fortunately, it was a short-lived sadness, as I left the house with my party outfit in my bag (and long johns on my legs). I arrived on the corner of St. Laurent and Ste. Catherine amidst a crowd of hobos, prostitutes and dodgy middle-aged men smoking cigarettes swiftly in order to get back to their beloved peep shows and strip clubs.

Inside the gigantic venue, I looked for someone to redirect me to my new job. After I found my new colleague, Constance, I changed into a black cape dress topped by a multicolor sequin jacket, as well as my most decadent shoes: silver sequin Jeffrey Campbell heels. In short, it was the perfect New Year’s Eve door girl outfit. I was proud to act as an obligatory first stop for people’s New Year’s celebrations (at least those who did not possess paper tickets yet). I was totally rocking it as an hostess with the mostest. Working on New Year’s made me feel in control since I was an integral part of the party ritual.

The club was packed with a plethora of vibrant and colourful people.  There were friends and acquaintances stopping by, screaming my name in the midst of the crowd, or coming down to chat with me when the lobby was nearly empty. There was an array of beautiful girls, handsome men, and very fabulous gay guys, some of which knew Constance and came down at midnight to kiss us on the mouth and to offer us a sip of their rum and cokes… in champagne glasses.

We were checking people’s I-ds or receipts in order to hand them their tickets as fast as we could. We would have been oblivious of the year passing, if not from a wild uproar from upstairs. As people vanished into the party, a busboy brought us green-bottled beers and gave us a hug. We all cheered: ‘’bonne année!’’.

Our shift was finally over at 3h15 AM, after which we went upstairs to have a drink with fellow coworkers. We were on the top floor, surrounded by Christmas lights that gave the whole scene a magical appeal, along with a post-apocalyptic vibe courtesy of plastic glasses clustered on the floor, bin bags aplenty, and overall post-party mess.

We left the venue a little after 4, looking for a taxi but indubitably, it is legendarily difficult to hail one at New Year’s. Matters were even more complex since we were at the core of downtown Montreal after the bars closed, and so there were hordes of loud drunks walking around, all looking for a cab. I decided to go around the bus terminal, in order to find a cab quicker on a quieter street. I saw one from afar and walked in the street, brushing against the cars. To our relief, the taxi stopped.

‘’You girls are lucky. I just dropped my last customers like, a minute ago!’’. Our driver, a bilingual Montreal native, seriously thought he was the best for the job. ‘’I’m the best cab driver in Montreal! Well, I know it’s not very humble for me to claim that…’’, he said, before erupting in giggles.

‘‘I reckon that 2014 is going to be a good year’’

‘‘Yeah, I think so too’’.

I smiled as I exited the taxi. I was happy about the transition and grateful for my night, as well as for my life. A new year is a celebration because although we don’t change much at midnight (the cab doesn’t transform into a pumpkin after all), it is a unique moment that feels as though the world is expanding. It is a fantastic occasion to get together with loved ones and /or strangers and to bond over the shared excitement of a new beginning. On New Year’s Eve, people all around the globe are living magical rituals, and that shakes the world a little bit.

The next morning, on New Year’s Day, I woke up feeling hungry and craving some company. As my great friend Gregory, from NYC, was leaving at 5 that afternoon, we had promised each other that we would have brunch. After waiting and wishing for an answer to come my way through my Facebook inbox, Greg finally woke up and told me to come to his friends’ place. He was totally hangover, and so were they. His first typed words were things like : ”ughhhh”.

I managed to find a store that was open, and bought eggs, olives and grapes. I had a feast with Gregory, his two friends and their two-year-old daughter. I felt very at home even though it was the second time that I’ve seen them, and the brunch made the lack of sleep (almost) enjoyable.

I departed with Greg in order to drop him at his bus. After we hugged goodbye, I walked for a couple of kilometres in subarctic weather. When I finally made it home, I had a hot chocolate and called my mom. It was comfort after the cold, and the promise of a new day, of a clean slate.

And the slate has been pretty clean indeed. I lost weight, not dramatically, but everyone has observed the fact as soon as I took my big winter sweater off. As January started, I told myself that I had to go to a yoga studio again, repeatedly, and so I started volunteering at one in exchange for free classes.

I have been showing up at the studio every day for over three weeks now, and I do feel more serene. Practicing yoga helps me tremendously. I take time to stop and breathe, I grasp the present moment better than I used to, and my creativity is always on. Every day now, I make my way to the yoga studio, change into a sports top and shorts, and unroll my mat to start my practice. It has become my ritual, a New Year’s resolution I will definitely stick with, along with wearing more sequins (but that, I do every year).

Lili Monette is a born-and-raised Montrealer and an artist by DNA and by choice. She holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Theatre and Development from Concordia University and can be found around the world entertaining people and gathering stories.

Illustration: Célia Marquis. You can check out her wonderful work here: http://celiamarquis.ca/ and here  http://celiamarquis.tumblr.com/