I figured this was probably a Y staff person, as occasionally a staffer does enter during class - much to the annoyance of our yoga teacher - seeking a piece of equipment or some item from the room's closet.
However as I bent over and slid my arms and upper body down my leg into a side angle stretch, I caught sight of a pair of hiking boots. A few inhale-exhales later I saw our teacher's feet standing next to the boots and I heard our teacher asking the boots what he needed and the boots replying that he just wanted to see what the class was like. Our teacher returned to his mat and the boots stayed.
When I returned to an upright position I saw standing at the front of the room a white man who looked to be in his mid-fifties with short grey hair, a round flushed-looking face, small eyes behind wire-rimmed glasses and a grey mustache above a slack, slightly opened mouth.
He was on the husky side and above his boots he wore loose work jeans and a heavy, over-sized plaid flannel shirt.
I was now distracted, totally out of the zone, focused only on this off-looking person. Every time he came within my line of vision as we moved through our vinyasa sequence I tried to check out his details, recokning that he probably wasn't hiding an AR-15 under his big, boxy clothes - however what did I know about the size of automatic rifles, maybe they weren't all that big? - but he could definitely have a good-sized handgun or something of the sawed-off variety tucked into his belt or under his shirt. His stance was a little off, I thought, as was, I thought, his rapt, slack-jawed facial expression. I continually eyed the man, but did I flee the class?
Well, no. Neither did anyone else.
I kept thinking that this was bizarre, unreal, that with four horrific mass murders in this country in the past month, three of them with guns, two of them within the past week, all of them in the most random, arbitrary, unexpectedly normal of public places, here we were all of us in this class continuing on with our bending and stretching and moving as if it were perfectly business-as-usual to have a guy who totally fit the profile standing in front of us.
Why weren't all ditching the asanas and getting the heck out of there? Why wasn't I, for goodness sake? I was in the second row from the front and directly in front of the guy, but there was a hole in the row in front of me, so I was the closest person within firing range. I glanced at the people at the far back end of the room; they'd have a chance, maybe some of them could rush out the back door of the room, but for me there'd be nowhere to run to, I'd be the first one down.
But did I leave? No. Why, I kept asking myself, why don't you just quietly leave? Why don't we all just quietly leave?
I began doing what we're never supposed to do in yoga class: I began watching my classmates, looking at their faces to see if any of them looked scared or concerned. Everyone seemed to be frowning, but were they frowns of distress or just frowns of concentration and physical exertion?
Anyway, none of us in the yoga class did anything. And neither did the guy. At then end of class he was still standing at the front of the room while everyone rolled up their mats and put their shoes back on.
Okay, I'm doing this, I thought. I approached the guy, smiled and asked him what he thought of our class.
He smiled back a little lopsidedly and told me in speech that was just a little off that he did yoga over at the senior center and had heard about our class so he wanted to check it out, but that our class was probably a little too advanced for him. He then proceeded to tell me about an accident that he had ten years ago when he fell from a tree while cutting a branch. The fall broke his back and arm and the head injury he sustained left him in a coma for a month and a half. Years of therapy have helped him recover and yoga has been especially good for him. But he probably wouldn't do our class. I wished him well then watched as he walked out of the classroom with a slight limp.