When it comes to unique news stories here in America, perhaps no single locale has the sort of perplexing plethora of events as the Sunshine State.
Florida has long been home to some of the strangest headlines our nation has ever seen, from “bath salt” zonked zombies literally eating people’s faces, to alligators ending up in just about any bizarre predicament you can imagine.
This week’s nigh-unfathomable tale involves an outdoor yoga class interrupted by an epic iguana battle 25 feet above the ground.
For 14 years, yoga instructor Anamargret Sanchez has taught a free community class at Legion Park in Miami’s Upper Eastside neighborhood. It started with 20 people and grew over time, to the point where attendance can easily top 100 and regulars have braved hurricane watches and COVID-19 lockdowns to meet under the oak trees on Saturday mornings. Sanchez livestreams the sessions so those who can’t make it in person can participate on Instagram.
The first Saturday of 2023 drew an especially large crowd — the weather was lovely, and only seven days into the new year, resolutions still glinted with potential.
“It was a really beautiful day,” Sanchez remembers. “I kept saying, ‘Don’t forget to look up at the beautiful trees and the beautiful sky.'”
The class proceeded as usual for 47 minutes: breathing exercises, upward and downward dog, warrior, triangle, and seated stretching poses. As always, Sanchez concluded by instructing yogis to roll onto their backs, lift their hips, and begin to look inward.
It was then that a series of noises — tree branches rustling, a loud thud, a cacophony of gasps — ensued.
“Guys, I think we are going to close the class,” Sanchez can be heard saying on the Instagram Live video recording. “I’m going to take care of someone who just got an iguana dropped on his face.”
As two of these rather large, invasive creatures duked it out in the tree above the class, one of the iguanas was shoved from his perch, striking the yoga student in the face.
That someone would be Michael, who agreed to speak with New Times on the quite understandable condition that we not publish his last name. (“I don’t want to be known as the guy whose face was used as an iguana landing pad,” he says.)
As Michael tells it, one moment he’s relaxed on his back with his shade hat covering his face preparing for the final resting pose (savasana, sometimes referred to as “corpse pose”), and the next he’s in excruciating pain, bleeding, and unable to open his eyes.
“I didn’t see it coming. It felt like a sandbag hit me in the face,” Michael says. “The first thing that went through my head was it must have been a coconut. But there were no coconut trees. And then I thought maybe the guy next to me slugged me — but, I mean, we’re in a yoga class and it’s so calm and peaceful. Why would the guy hit me?”
Michael was checked out by local paramedics who happened to be visiting a farmer’s market in the park, and later declined transport to the hospital.
Iguanas are a nuisance animal in Florida, having arrived in the 1960’s only to reproduce rapidly and decimate parts of the state. Homeowners in the Sunshine State are encouraged to exterminate any iguanas that they find on their property, and some locales even offer bounties on the invasive pests.