By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
I'm lying on my stomach in a stranger's house in Merrick, half asleep, drooling drowsily on a silver plastic exercise mat. All around me women and men look like hunters' bows. Stretching their bodies by lifting their heads and necks, they grasp their own ankles.
How did I get here?
A rank beginner, I am competent only at the position in which one sprawls on her stomach, palms upheavenward. Thank god, yoga teacher Linda Cucurullo doesn't chide beginners for form. There's absolutely no pressure in this group. "Just continue as long as you're comfortable," Cucurullo reminds us softly.
"Kevin, that's the best you've ever done!" she encourages, as a middle-aged man in gym gear makes a perfect bow. "He's let go of those limiting thoughts," cracks the pretty brunette next to him.
The scent of herbal oil wafts through the air. Calming, vaguely liturgical music plays quietly in the background, and a bubbling aquariumempty, but for seashellscreates white noise. Cucurullo tells us that next we're going to experience a meditation created to "empty your minds."
We can either sit up or lie on our backs. One dark-haired lady assumes a classic cross-legged contemplative position, wrapping herself in a coral cashmere shawl. Most of us have on anonymous sweats. Cucurullo dims the lights and tells us, "Imagine yourself becoming another form. Imagine yourself without limitations."
As always, I am thinking too much. I imagine myself a beam of lightthen I think darkness always comes and that is limiting. OK, I'll be the windbut sometimes, I realize, the air is still. Then I'll be energy, endless forever. For some reason I forget about the limited supply of petroleum. Lost in my world, I soon nod off into a pool of droolenvisioning little time warps, black holes and other comforting features of the physical universe.
Classes in Cucurullo's homey little studio are six for $100. Shiatsu massage and spiritual retreats are also available. Doesn't a spiritual retreat sound better than one of those hackneyed bachelorette parties?
LINDA CUCURULLO, yoga therapy and shiatsu practitioner Call for details of classes and private training. Merrick, NY. 516-379-6951