“Vader was the wild card. No one knew what he would do.” Across The Margin uncovers a long-hidden and profoundly important artifact: The final blog entry from the yoga instructor on the second Death Star, Desiree…
by: Desiree: Yoga Instructor, Death Star (aka Tim Miller)
Date: A Long Time Ago
It’s hard to believe we’ve been practicing for two years as of today. It feels like only yesterday when we got our start, right around the time The Emperor arrived to personally oversee construction. That was a rough day for everyone, seeing as his first act of business was electrocuting the Chief Weapons Engineer…
At that time, everyone was feeling the strain of conquering the galaxy. Stormtroopers were increasingly stiff from all the standing and marching, TIE fighter pilots had poor circulation from sitting too much, and scout troopers had sore wrists and lower back pain from all those hours on speeder bikes. When the inevitable construction delays occurred, stress amongst commanders went through the unfinished roof.
The Emperor was reluctant to dedicate resources away from his weapons systems. But amazingly, he finally conceded to Jon, the Royal Guard in charge of the Imperial Wellness program, to include a yoga studio in the Martial Arts Hall. He even permitted music. Classes were small at first, but word quickly spread. Some say it was the incentivized discount on health premiums, but I knew otherwise. We were providing something that had been sorely lacking: mindfulness to all those vanquishing the galaxy in service to our Emperor.
We started with one room, which we called The Asteroid Oasis. Pretty soon mats from all sectors of the Empire covered the floor. We even had a few bounty hunters passing through. We added a second room for hot yoga, called the Dagobah Den, and finally a third room, The Bespin Cloud.
Vader was the wild card. No one knew what he would do.
At first, he scoffed at the art of yoga and meditation. About six weeks after the studio opened, he walked in during a Slow Flow After Light Speed class and openly scoffed at what he called our “Jedi Snake Charming Class.” Admiral Piett was in a chair position and he knocked him right over. Then he lifted all the blocks, rolled up all our mats, and said yoga would never be a replacement for the power of the Dark Side. He turned and stormed out. We didn’t see him again the entire first year. But occasionally, we felt him. He would knock over yogis in the middle of practice, send blocks across the room, or momentarily cut off the air supply of an instructor.
No one knows how or when the change happened. Some said losing his hand caused some wrist complications and yoga positions such as downward dog are the perfect strength building remedy. Others suspected it was the toll of aging as a cyborg. Whatever it was, Vader came marching into the Asteroid Oasis one morning for a Vinyasa class. He was capeless, wearing yoga attire and even sandals. (His yellow toenails caused quite a stir.) Glen was the instructor. The first twenty minutes were tense, but Vader moved through the positions. Then Glen made a fatal error. He offered hands-on assistance to a pigeon pose and Vader used the Force to choke him to death. We all miss Glen very much.
Denise drew the short straw and took over Glen’s class. We were all surprised when Vader showed up at the Cloud Room for Jon’s Bootcamp. Everything was going fine, according to the stormtroopers that were in class that day, until the classic Sy Snootles song “Daddy Don’t Preach” came on. Something about the song really irked Vader. Using the Force, he ripped the stereo out of the wall and smashed Jon’s skull. They used his crimson yoga towel to soak up the pool of blood.
After that, all of us instructors were on edge. We all knew Vader could barge in on any class and we might die right on our mats. We made a pledge then and there to commit to our practice, to bring balance and well-being to the Imperial Empire.
For a while Vader was nowhere to be found. The rumor was that he had decided to follow the cousin of that rebel scum Admiral Ackbar—some amphibious guru that practices daya (compassion for all creatures)— and did a deep dive of meditation on both his abandonment issues and the uncertainty of his identity.
Whatever it was, it worked. When he came back to the Death Star, he was a new Lord Vader. He showed up religiously to Matt’s Wednesday night Hot Yoga class. Most Death Star yogis claim that it was Matt’s laid back style while others say it was his playlists that prominently featured Max Rebo’s solo album The Dark Side of Endor’s Moon. Vader seemed as healthy and evil as ever. Some claimed they could hear the ujjaya coming through his breathing apparatus. One vice admiral reported that his torturing of rebel spies and incompetent commanders took a kinder, gentler turn.
For awhile it was like clockwork. Every Wednesday, Vader, Ackbar’s cousin, and this random group of Bothans, showed up to class together. Apparently it was a mutinous faction that had denounced the Bothan culture based on the pursuit of gaining power and influence. No one said anything because their arrival coincided with an Imperial survey showing a surge in tranquility. Productivity, conquered territories, and oppression soared.
But the Bothans were a strange bunch. One of them always pestered me in the hallway after my Restore Evil, Restore You class. He wanted to know if, as a weapons engineer, did I have access to the Death Star’s digital blueprints? Which of course I do. He said Vader wanted to build his own studio. Finally he said if I didn’t give it to him, I would have to answer directly to Lord Vader. So I gave him a copy just so he would leave me alone. I doubt if anything will come of it.
Then there was a disturbance in the Force. Something about Vader’s son and daughter, or maybe both. Trust me, I know. It’s hard being a parent in the Empire. Suddenly Vader couldn’t hold even the basic warrior poses. A TIE fighter pilot, lucky to survive, witnessed the whole thing from his baby cobra position. Right as “Any Galaxy You Like” came on, Vader collapsed executing a chaturanga. He ripped off his sweat resistant muscle tee and breathable sutra pants and stormed out of the studio. In desperation, Matt instructed the class to go to child’s pose, but it was too late. Vader returned with his cape and Matt must have known it was over immediately. We all miss Matt very much.
Almost everyone in the class died, including Ackbar’s cousin and most of the Bothans. Vader’s sandals are still where he left them.
So as I sit here on this Tuesday morning, sipping kombucha tea, preparing for my Sculpt and Destroy class, I’m mindful of where we’ve been. It is with profound gratitude that I take this time to reflect on the peace we’ve created in the heart of the galaxy’s deadliest weapon. And now I turn the page, open to the possibilities of what lies ahead. Just yesterday, an AT-ST Scout Walker driver from Endor suggested that a rebel base about to be taken over would be ideal for a yoga retreat. We dwell in the possible. Namaste.