When I first began yoga teacher training, I admit to being rather judgmental about a few of my classmates.  One woman in particular seemed out of yogic character: tough, outspoken, brash.  She admitted proudly and defiantly to smoking, drinking and gorging on steak.  But then, almost as a sidebar, she added that she meditated every day for an hour.

I attended her yoga class on the beach today, both in a show of support and an effort to leave the house because I was obsessively checking emails, hoping for one from my lost love, even though I had told him not to email (yeah, I know, I never said I was sane).

Her class blew me away: confident, witty, sure, spiritual.  And then, in the final savasana, as she anointed us with lavender oil, I again began to cry uncontrollably (yeah, I know, see above, blah, blah).  She came over to me and silently rubbed my shoulders and neck, patted my tears.

After the class ended, she and another classmate persuaded me to hang out on the beach until our afternoon training session began.  Our intention was to study the poses we were presenting, but it instead turned into the funniest, most candid, absolutely ribald time of my life.  I was laughing so hard, fresh tears – the good kind – rolled down my face.

I told them a little about my crappy week: the scary health news, the breakup.  “Oh, honey,” she said, “I’ve been single for four years.  Let me tell you what to do.  Go to this website [I forgot the name], order The Piranha.  Best. Vibrator. Ever.  Mine’s named Bob and he’s been with me three years.  Never fails me.”

She continued on merrily, explaining Bob’s various features and accessories in excruciating detail, the kind that makes her a dynamic yoga teacher, interlaced with salty and lascivious asides.  Our conversation morphed into all things sex, from size and shape to positions to…well, you get the idea.  And it degenerated from there.

It was light, it was fun, it was down and dirty.  We laughed, we bonded.  And I desperately needed to laugh like that, belly-aching hard, full throttle, to the point of hiccupping.

Before we left the beach, she asked me to demonstrate my posture.  “Oh, no, honey,” she exclaimed as I talked and moved through the pose meekly.  “Do it like this, like you mean it.”

I guess between being sick and being sad, my resistance was down.  So for once I didn’t give a shit when my turn came to teach.  For the first time since I began teacher training, I stood up front and went all out, albeit throatily (my voice is basically gone due to excessive coughing).   I infused my presentation with a double-espresso shot of my new friend’s confidence.

I nailed the discussion and the demonstration.

The class actually applauded when I finished.  I think they were shocked that the mouse finally roared.

Even the teacher offered very little criticism, saying he liked my presentation.  Then he had me demonstrate the advanced version of the pose, which generated even more buzz.  When I finally rose from the posture and looked up, I was startled to find the class surrounding me, many snapping pictures that will probably appear on Facebook over the next few days.

For me, it was a personal victory: a major conquering of fear, a serious boost in confidence.

My new friend flashed a huge, toothy grin and gave me a thumbs-up.  As we left for the day, she hugged me tight, kissed my cheek.  “Call me anytime, we’ll go pick up men,” she laughed as she gathered her belongings.  “I’m outta here fast.  I’m jonesing for a smoke.”

And then she was gone.  But her sunshine and spirit remained with me.

It turned out to be a good day…and I owe it all to someone I once misjudged badly.