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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Seven 7hings: About Yoga

Faithful Followers of this blog (thanks, Mom), may recall my post from February 2012 in which I promised to chronicle the adventures of a fat man (yours truly) in a little surya namaskar.

For the uninitiated, surya namaskar is a sequence of asanas or body positions involved in the practice of yoga.  Of course, I thought it was something one wears when practicing yoga which would have made my Chris Farley/David Spade reference actually funny, but no sense crying over spilled curry chutney.

It has taken some time and a confluence of circumstances to get me into the ashram or, as I call it, “the place where a small woman makes me do things that hurt,” but I’ve finally taken the plunge.  For those considering taking up the practice, I’m here to report back what to expect once you decide the recliner just isn’t meditative enough.

So without further ado (which in and of itself is superfluous and, in fact, further ado), I present Seven 7hings: About Yoga.
1.  don’t bend Yoga: I am no yoga expert and have experience with probably about 15 or so poses. However, between my limited experience, interviews with yoga experts, and internet research, I have determined that none of the poses are designed to accommodate my belly.  The only possible exception is “Savasana,” also known as “corpse pose.”  I think it got its name because it’s done at the end of the session after all other poses in the flow, by which point I’m bordering on actually being a corpse.  But at least my gut doesn’t get in the way.

Not the author

2.  There is a Pain Bonus:  That small woman who stands up in front of the class (I call her ”Demona”) cascading gentle words of encouragement and instruction is not -- I repeat, IS NOT -- my friend.  She is some sort of foreign agent sent to this country to inflict pain on me.  I have no proof of this, but I’m personally convinced that Demona gets a bonus if she ruptures one of my organs.  Spleen, $50.  A kidney, $75.  And if she gets me to crush my own liver, she gets $250.  She just wants to hurt me.  And she'll want to hurt you, too.  Allegedly.

3.  "Hot” is relative:  The current big thing among yogis (yogii?  yogae?) is hot yoga.  One strain of this infection coursing through the veins of our great, once-yoga-free Nation insists on 105 degree temperatures in the room.  Other “hot” yoga cranks the heat to a relatively mild 98 degrees.  But even in a reasonably climate-controlled environment of, say, 75 degrees, I lose approximately 3 pounds of sweat-weight just unrolling my mat. mat is pink.  What of it?

4.  It's All Mental:  Horses(p)it.  My mind is weaker than my gelatinous body.  In fact, my mind is even weaker.  At least my body wants to move.  As soon as the thought of going to a yoga class pops into my head, my mind begins coming up with reasons not to go as well viable alternatives.  “Butt clenchers while watching ‘Big Bang Theory’ is essentially the same as Yoga but without having to pay for it!”  If I ever give you a piece of my mind, I urge you to dispose of it immediately in a bio-hazard disposal site and disinfect your hands.  My mind is not your friend, either.

5.  Know the Language:  Like any activity, yoga has its own vernacular.  One of the tricky terms for me was “namaste” which I always assumed was some form of Spiritual acknowledgement.  However, at the end of the class, I’m pretty sure when Demona says, “Namaste” she means “please don’t puke on my floor.

6.  The Spirit is Willing:  As hokey as it sounds, that indefinable element deep inside me, my Spirit, is what pushes me through each class.  The stuff people say about yoga being a Spiritual exercise as much as anything is true, particularly for a (fat, old) beginner like me.  The focus on the breath connects me to Universal Spirit, which both enables me to complete the exercises and to feel at peace when I complete the class and am within just a few inches from death.

7.  No Regrets:  As I’ve mentioned, Mrs. Smoke is a certified yoga teacher in addition to being a pretty advanced practicing yogi (or yogini).  As such, she’s encouraged me to try yoga for several years now.  Despite my -- and my body’s -- protestations, I have no regrets whatsoever about having taken up this new form of masochism.  

One of the more widely known yoga positions is the "downward dog."  I have it on good authority (read: I made it up) that this pose is not actually taken from or inspired by a dog.  In fact, the Notorious Z.O.E. will demonstrate what the actual downward dog looks like: