Yes, folks, I have begun the practice of the ancient and honored art of Yoga. Why? Because of my unique affinity for Eastern culture and philosophy and my aspiration to one day through meditation and physical discipline attain the vaunted state of being at one with the universe.
Nah, not really.
I'm taking up yoga because I have a spine that’s shaped something like the jungle pathway on a board game named Help Explorer Sam Find his Way to the Magic Talisman of Bloth. And in my continuing efforts to ameliorate my condition of scoliosis, which is causing me to shrink to the size where staring into your belly button is fast becoming my most intimate form of interpersonal communication, I found myself wending my way to Yoga Pagoda, the nearby yoga emporium.
Yoga Pagoda possesses an ethereal atmosphere and smells of incense that reminded me at once of the 60's, which unfortunately also reminded me that the only 60's for me anymore are the ones that feature Medicare in the middle of them. I had come to Yoga Pagoda to partake of a session termed "Gentle Yoga," the class that had been recommended for me as a beginner.
"Tell me," I had asked over the phone, "how does Gentle Yoga compare to the more advanced Yoga classes?"
"To use a computer related analogy," said the woman on the phone,"if you consider a more advanced class to be like Windows 10 ..."
"Gentle Yoga," I interjected, "is like Windows 8?"
"No, Gentle Yoga is something like a well chewed upon lead pencil."
Yep, that sounded about right.
I was instructed to "take a mat, a blanket, and two blocks," and go to the room in the back, which made me feel somewhat comfortable because with a mat, blocks, and a blanket in hand I figured milk and cookies couldn’t be far behind. In the back room there were about twenty people busily unfurling mats and getting ready for the class, mostly young to middle-aged women and a sprinkling of men, among whom I was probably the oldest person there.
That's right. The oldest there.
This was not a particularly encouraging realization, especially for the prospect of becoming one with the universe. Or, for that matter, even getting on a first name basis with the universe.
The leader of the group, an attractive young woman in absolutely terrific shape, began leading us though the assumption of various body positions called poses. Some are simple like the Table Pose, in which you get on hands and knees and your back forms a table top and then a waiter comes along and sets the table and welcomes two guests who order Chablis and Veal Picante. This last part didn't actually happen but I assume it does in the more advanced classes.
Some poses are much more difficult. On one, we were directed to "wrap your left foot around your right arm and place your left foot over your head, moving your belly button in a counterclockwise direction under your torso with arms outstretched and palms facing towards Mecca, and don't forget to breathe."
This pose is called "The Fuck Over Perry."
The conclusion of the session involved a sort of relaxed meditative state in which all of us join in saying "Ommm." I think this is supposed to produce inner peace, which is not something I possess in large quantities. If Ommm is going to work on me, we'll need a string of "M"s so lengthy you won’t find enough of them anywhere short of an explosion at an M and M's Factory.
But so far I think I like yoga.
It's a gentler form of exercise than the kind you experience when you join a gym named something like Macho Fitness and before long find yourself desperately looking for excuses to avoid going such as hoping to be hit by a truck. Even without milk and cookies and even if I am sometimes the oldest there, attending Gentle Yoga is not causing me to scout out any garbage trucks, at least not yet.
Perhaps yoga will prevent my back from ultimately morphing into a Philadelphia soft pretzel and keep me tall enough so I can go on any ride I choose at Disneyworld. Time will tell. And should I also ultimately attain a state of oneness with the universe, well, that'll be pretty good too.