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News & Features » February 2015 » “Yoga Bitch” by Kathleen McElligott

“Yoga Bitch” by Kathleen McElligott

Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuanacocainespeed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.)

This week, Kathleen McElligott learns a lesson in For-Profit Enlightenment.

KathleenMcElligott2Yoga Bitch
by Kathleen McElligott

I’ve maxed out my credit cards. I got fired. I only leave the house for organic food—and yoga.

It all started with a Groupon for yoga classes: ten sessions for thirty-nine dollars, a deal. I’ve been practicing yoga for years, taking classes at the community center and honing my skills at home with DVDs.  Every morning and night, I do yoga.

My first You Go Yoga class began with dahn-jon tapping—repeatedly thumping the lower abdomen with closed fists accompanied by rhythmic drumming.

“Breathe in through your nose and out through your dahn-jon,” Master Joon cooed.

What? Is that possible?

Joon is a diminutive Korean woman in her forties. She is stronger than she looks, I discovered.

“Feel the warmth radiating from your dahn-jon.”

No warmth, but I did need to use the restroom.

I soldiered on. Next we began tapping all over—chest, shoulders, arms, lower back, legs. I felt loose and relaxed. Lazy Lion Pose had us lying on our backs, legs bent at ninety degrees, palms facing up as we expanded our bellies on inhalation and contracted them on exhalation. My legs trembled uncontrollably. Master Joon said this was normal. New pathways were forming in my meridians. We remained in Lazy Lion for what seemed like an excruciating hour. Finally, we relaxed and prepared for meditation. Master Joon switched the soundtrack to a babbling brook as we lay sprawled on the floor.

“Imagine water flowing over your body,” Joon encouraged.

I felt refreshed and cleansed, grateful for my yoga find. We weren’t done. We sat in Half Lotus and placed our palms together.

“Feel the energy between your palms . . . your palms . . . your palms,” she intoned. “Nod if you feel the energy.”

I didn’t but I wanted to, so I nodded.

“Allow the silver particles of healing to rain down upon your body.”

Like pixie dust? Afterward, a woman said that her joints were no longer stiff, and a Gen Xer said her headache was gone. Keep an open mind, I thought.

I waited for a chance to demonstrate my yoga chops with a perfectly executed Downward Dog, but the opportunity never arose. This was not traditional yoga. At the end of my Groupon sessions Master Joon evaluated my progress. She asked to assess my body condition, then pressed so hard on my breastbone and ribs that I winced in pain. I needed serious opening in the chest area, she said. I’d made progress, but it was merely superficial. My dahn-jon wasn’t warming sufficiently, and thoughts cluttered my head during meditation. Another three months was indicated—at the higher non-Groupon rate.

I’m not a quitter, but as I made progress Master Joon kept raising the bar. My lack of warmth in my second chakra was a major obstacle to attaining higher consciousness. I practiced at home, waiting for my gut to catch fire. No luck. I couldn’t ignite my inner blast furnace at will, but I desperately wanted Joon’s approval.

After extending my membership to a year, Joon said the next step was Shining Sun, the Lollapalooza of enlightenment workshops. Here I would discover my authentic self and my reason for existence. All I wanted was to excel at yoga. That wasn’t enough, according to Joon.

I declined, but Joon wouldn’t take no for an answer. At Shining Sun we were instructed to forgive our clueless parents who were not enlightened. I, however, was well on my way.

Master Joon always greeted me with hugs and smiles, but after class she chided my progress. I would never attain enlightenment at this rate. What I needed was another two-day workshop.

Afterward, Master Joon said that I had the opportunity to meet with the workshop presenter, Purple Plum. She is a high-level master who was touring the US with time between flights. I shelled out one thousand for a one-hour session with Purple Plum. Through her interpreter she said I could become a healer via twelve Skype sessions. The cost: ten thousand dollars! You Go Yoga was messing with my head. All rational thought was gone.

I knew it was a scam, but I couldn’t stop. I’d sneak out of class early so Joon couldn’t corner me. She’d send texts about my “resistance.” I stopped answering my phone. My left brain screamed, Stop! My right brain said, No.

I’m being evicted from my apartment. The notice is in a stack of unpaid bills. I wonder if Joon wants a roommate—me, her yoga bitch. She owes me that much.


KATHLEEN McELLIGOTT accidentally stumbled across the line between traditional yoga and For-Profit Enlightenment when she signed up for You Go Yoga. While she wasn’t bankrupted or evicted, she came scarily close to being sucked into an alternate universe never to be seen again. In a previous life she was a nurse administrator with a master’s in health administration. Her debut novel Mommy Machine (Heliotrope Press, 2008) was recognized by USA Best Books 2009 in the Women’s Lit category; the sequel is in the wings looking for a good home. Her story “The Playdate” was featured in Terrible Twosdays in August. Her work has also appeared in The Star and Real Simple’s web edition as well as many anthologies, including Outrider Press’s The Mountain (2014), Music in the Air (2013), Deep Waters (2012), and A Bird in the Hand (2011). She is currently training for a cross-country bicycle trip from San Diego, California, to St. Augustine, Florida. Follow her exploits at www.kmcelligott.wordpress.com.


Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Thursdaze flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your submission should never have been published elsewhere.
—Your story should feature a drug, any drug, and your character’s experience with it. We’ll consider everything from caffeine to opium, and look forward to stories ranging from casual use to addiction to recovery. Stylistically, we’ll respond most favorable to stories that capture the mood and rhythm of your drug of choice.
—Include your drug of choice next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com, and include THURSDAZE in the subject line. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.


About the Drug Chronicles Series: Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series, Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. The anthologies in the series feature original short stories from acclaimed authors, each of whom focuses on their fictional experience with the title drug. Current releases in the series include The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.), The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.), The Heroin Chronicles (Eric Bogosian, Jerry StahlLydia Lunch, etc.), and The Marijuana Chronicles (Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Linda Yablonsky, etc.).

Posted: Feb 19, 2015

Category: Original Fiction, Thursdaze | Tags: , , , , , , ,