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Me, yoga and a few boo-boos

February 07, 2002

Me, yoga and a few boo-boos



All right, so I didn't have the best of attitudes when I went in for my first-ever yoga class last week.

Right out of the chute, I have problems with all those Y words: Yoga, Yogurt, Yodel, Yankees, Yogi Bear, Yellow Pages, Yuma City.

Yoplait Yogurt.

Yuck.

But since I am more inflexible than Ralph Nader, I figured yoga might be the answer. Most people can touch their toes. On a good day, I can touch my knees. My idea of the lotus position is sitting in a beanbag chair with a bowl of lard-fried potato chips balanced on my stomach.

I sort of reckoned that yoga would be a lot of lying around on a mat gently bending tendon, cartilage and whatever else makes up the stretchy parts of the joint innards.

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Right.

On entering the hall, I immediately was intimidated because I couldn't help but notice the female-male ratio was 10 to one, me being the one.

One woman does not intimidate me. Two women, even three women, do not intimidate me. But when the odds reach double digits, that's the time I start looking for the fire exits, if you know what I'm saying. I don't know why - it's sort of a spiritual thing that I can't really put my finger on. Like their 10 auras were ganging up and giving my one aura a good thumping.

Guys might think that being alone in a room full of chicks would be a good thing, but I can assure you it is not. These women were PURPOSEFUL, and there's nothing more dangerous than a purposeful woman.

So that was bad enough. Then, the music started. I don't know quite how to describe it, other than to say it's kind of like if the peoples of the Zulu nation had gotten together with the crew of a UFO to burn a CD. It's supposed to relax you, but it made me fear that at any moment a cheetah might burst through the plate glass window.

I will say, though, that the instructor was wonderful. She made me feel at home, didn't pressure us into doing anything we weren't comfortable with doing and pretended not to notice the half-dozen times I lost my balance and went crashing into the wall.

My impression was that yoga would be easy. It is not. To the beginner, anyway, it is hard.

In a way, it didn't seem fair. I've lifted modest amounts of weights for years and like to think I have built up a little muscle in all the normal spots. Yoga ignores the normal spots and stampedes straight off to muscles in places where you didn't even know you have places.

You have to get in weird positions, then hold that position in defiance of all the rules of gravity and balance. The women were good at it, but frankly, I might as well have tried to get a unicycle to stand up by itself in the middle of an ice rink.

All the positions have names. You get in this position called "Dharma facing Dog" or "Dharma facing Greg" or some such, then stand on your left foot with your right leg straight out behind you and your arms out, palms facing up to catch something (I didn't quite catch what it is you are supposed to be catching) until you look almost exactly like the hood ornament on a '35 Pontiac, while the instructor offers up helpful advice like "try to breathe."

I'd hold the position for a second or two, before wobbling frantically then pitching to one side or another onto the mat. I walked out a beaten man. I imagine I'll give it another shot presently, because it really does feel as if you're doing something good for yourself.

But for the time being, I'm going back to the grunts, the screams of agony, the stench and the heavy, putrid air of the free weight room.

To a guy, it just seems more civilized.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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