Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Wine Theory

Today we revisit my list of why the yoga world (hence forth referred to as YW) is far superior to the real world (RW). For those of you just dropping in, a quick re-cap: The Real World is warped. I have decided the Yoga World is much more pleasant and I intend to stay here. There, that should be all you need to know to continue.

Reason #2: The Wine Theory

At my current age, 32, the RW considers me past my prime. From this day forth I can expect a slow but steady morphing from the fine red wine of my youth to vinegar. With my best years behind me, I had better hope that either I did all the man-chasing I needed already, or that I am seriously loaded so I can afford to take off a few inches of neck waddle every few years.

While I am not bothered by my age, I do get a wee perturbed at the notion that I have to spend increasing amounts of wealth on creams to prevent wrinkles which I earned. I have what the cosmetic industry disrespectfully refers to as, "crow's feet" at the corners of my eyes at the ripe age of 32. It's because I smile so darned much. My hands are skinny with melon-sized knuckles installed in the fingers. Large veins lace the backs of those same hands giving the impression I have somehow robbed an old woman's corpse of its mitts. These are my hands. Years of dipping those hands into turpentine to clean paint brushes contributed to those granny hands of mine. While I agree that I would prefer my eyes or hands to be covered in taught flesh, I feel pretty confident that the current state of my flesh is not an indicator of my impending doom.

I do not appreciate the world telling me that people my age should look like 20-somethings.* My twenties were like a second hormone-infused manic puberty. I wouldn't want to go through that again, nor do I want to look like the reckless near-adult I was. Yeah, the pictures looked great, but I know what porridge was behind those flawlessly-painted cats' eyes.

RW: I can only await further decline. My only struggle left is to maintain dignity as I transform into a toothless pile of pock-marked flesh.

In the YW every day is a new improvement. No matter what your age, regular attendance insures steadily increasing strength, flexibility and precision of mind. I have multiple yogis I aspire to who are many years my senior. As I have stated previously, my eventual goal is tiger scorpion. I think it is the most beautiful pose I have ever seen and I want it with a zealousness that could choke small mammals. I know I will get there, it will just take time. A long time. I tell my friend, only half joking, that it may take until I am 90. I look forward to being the only one in the old-folks home that can stand on their head, supported by their forearms.

 YW: I will always be improving. Wine never past its prime, we can develop character, depth and grace for our whole lives...and the ability to touch our heads to our butts, (which is way-impressive in the retirement community).
* Yes, I realize I am only two years into my thirties. Keep in mind we are talking here about what the world has decided a 20-something looks like, which is what I looked like from 21-25.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

You May Say I'm a Dreamer

Many of us yogis live in our own little world. Things are nice here. There are many nice people and the few bad people, in theory, slowly morph into good people. Hard work is rewarded with a long, healthy life. In this lifetime too; not some yet-to-be-seen afterlife crap. This may seem like a flighty worldview. I don't care. It's nice in my world and I am not coming out to join you in your broken one. Let me give you a few examples of why realism can take a hike. When you are ready, feel free to join me in my happy yoga bubble.

Today I will share reason #1: Less Mature Attitudes Toward Attire

In the real world finding yourself at a gathering in the same outfit as another woman is considered embarrassing. Unless you have brought a spare outfit in the car, this can make for an entire evening of uncomfortable encounters. These can range from, "Haha. You (or, 'she') certainly have (or 'has') good taste." (repeated about 50 times) to the behind your back exchange, "That b*tch is wearing my dress!" "It's okay, Kitty, she looks like a 10-cent whore. You wear it with such panache!" 

As a child it was my duty to repeatedly make the argument that school uniforms would stunt creativity and individualism, a foundation of our shared American heritage.* Now I long for the freedom of every man, woman and child, be he laborer or executive, donning the same unflattering but comfy slacks and polo. I would proudly proclaim, "Why, yes, I DID wear this yesterday!" I will admit though, it's not to avoid the above scenario, I simply think it would give me an extra 15 minutes in bed every morning. 

R.W. (Real World)

In my yoga world, the repeating of an outfit is welcomed. It is celebrated with the same enthusiasm that just about everything is in the yoga world. I revert to my twittering 12 year old self, screaming, "OHMYGOD! We're TWINS!" despite dissimilar backgrounds, hair or eye color or being born on opposite sides of the globe.

Y.W. (Yoga World)

More, possibly more pertinent, examples of why my yoga world rocks harder than the real world will follow in subsequent posts.

*Not that non-Americans don't value independence. This was the argument of a grade-school student who knew darned well that anytime you say something is an "American value" it becomes harder for the teacher to disagree. This same tactic is used by some adults. It is because of these adults that the phrase "American values" now makes my skin crawl.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Practical Yoga (A Continuing Segment)

Today, I would like to announce a new chapter in our continuing segment, "Practical Yoga." This handy guide is here to explain the benefits that yoga can provide to your everyday life. In an effort to appeal to the segment of our population preferring a logical approach, this no-nonsense guide will not be touching on the more 'foofy' aspects of yoga; instead focusing on hard, practical fact. We will not discuss calmness, increased energy or karma. We will eschew words like, "prana." Here, we will outline stale facts  indisputable proof of yoga's daily benefits. Let's begin:

Practical Yoga #2:
In this installment of Practical Yoga we will review one of the many merits to eagle pose. Also known as garudasana. 

I am sure many of you have shirked in your attempts to contort yourself into the perfect eagle pose; preferring to save your energy for the impressive standing bow. Well, NO MORE! Just as before I revealed the bona fide benefits of awkward pose ( I will now do the same for the oft ignored eagle. 

The scenario: 
You are jogging along a wooded path when you happen by a grizzly bear. This mamma bear takes issue with you and tries to attack. 

Fig #1: Irrationally Angry Bear

You mount the nearest tree and wrap yourself around it in eagle. Don't worry about your hands lining up today  you are being chased by a bear.

Fig #1: Eagle in Tree

As much as the bear pulls at the little tree, knocks it with her body, and tries to get at you she can not shake you from your tree!

Fig #3: Maybe Choose a Bigger Tree

So there you have it folks. Your reason for doing eagle. Bear attacks. Sound unlikely? Possibly. Impossible NO! A North Carolina resident, Ruth McNair braved this mamma bear armed only with eagle. And it worked!* So here is your proven effective patented** step-by-step Ruth McNair Bear Survival guide. You're welcome. 

* The article has been archived but you can access it from here:

** Not really.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Message Received

This is for real. Everything happened exactly as it is reported except for the last panel. I only thought those words in my head. What I actually said was, "Here, in the toilet." After opening a stall and pointing to the commode, of course. I hope that was enough instruction.

Really, I think the universe could have been more subtle about telling me I have it easy. Sending an elderly African woman seems awfully complex. In fact:

Dear Universe,

I get it. My life is incomprehensibly easy. Sometimes, could you please just let me grumble in peace anyway?  I promise not to take advantage and become a sniveling wimp.



Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mommy is in Savasana

My first introduction to yoga was very young. My mother was an avid follower of Lilias Folan, a woman who made a bunch of VHS tapes for you to follow along at home.* This allowed my poor mother to practice yoga despite the many demands of an over-achieving house wife of the 1980's. I am fairly certain her yoga practice saved my life. I have two siblings, one older and one younger. The eldest has been 30 since she could walk. While I adorned myself with a flowered bonnet, a costume gold and blue cheerleader skirt and bright yellow sparkly pac-man shirt (mother would pin notes into my back inscribed, "Kathryn dressed herself this morning" to avoid inquiries from Child Protective Services) my sister insisted on three-piece suits. Mother would shuffle the eldest to cello, Hebrew and violin classes while I taught the youngest the benefits of not using recipes when making baked goods. Maybe I will write about the vinegar cake at some point.** While eldest was learning the capitals of all the countries of South America, I was being shocked at how red my mother could get at such a little thing as creating a hole in the hallway carpet to hide money in. I have no doubts that, had my mother not owned those VHS cassettes, my life would have been a short one. 

Had I understood the delicate balance between downward facing dog and my fingers all remaining attached to my palms I might have been more respectful. As it was, I was a curious kid who thought joining mother was great fun. I would throw myself under her downward dog, much in the way my cat does to me now, laughing hysterically. I would encourage my brother to do the same. We would have great fun playing the "I'm not touching you" game with her while she was in savasana. At some point my mother decided to explain that when she put on her leotard and plugged in that little video with the nice lady doing funny poses, my brother and I were to leave her alone. 

I am not sure how my mother explained this, but knowing how rambunctious I was, I am fairly certain a wide variety of threats were necessary. I imagine water-boarding must have been involved. Possibly the water-boarding of my My Little Ponies as well. Having made the necessary impression, my mother continued her practice with one alteration. Rather than children in the room with her, we sat on the dividing line between the living room and hallway.  I like to think now that I improved her focus because I can think of nothing more distracting than my brother and I loudly whispering, "SHHH! It's mommy's time now. We have to be REALLLLY quiet!"

We sat and watched while mom ran through the routine, our beady little eyes fixed on her. Plank, downward dog, plank, cat pose... the routine followed its course ending in final savasana. My brother and I watched intently for at least 10 seconds before I decided something must be wrong. I loudly hissed a whisper to my brother, "How would we know if she was hurt?"

My brother conceded that we had no way of knowing. I offered, in the same not hushed at all tone, that she could have hit her head for all we knew. We had been watching the whole time but that did not deter me. "Do you see any blood?!" I hissed at my brother. He did not. I decided we should check, just in case. We crept into the forbidden room. My brother put his face about an inch from her nose, examining her for movement. I took the important job of checking for seepage from a possible head wound. I pressed one cheek to the floor to get an eye level view of the back of her head, I hissed, "I don't see any, but....."

Suddenly my mother's eyes popped open, with red crackles around the rims, "MOMMY IS IN SAVASANA!!!"

Oh joy! Mom is alive!...Oh dookie... run!

"Mommy, we just wanted to make sure you were okay, it was for you!" my voice trailed behind me as I barreled down the hall.

I would suggest looking into Lilias Yoga and You, it must have been some good stuff to prevent my demise.


**The logic was sound; the bottle was very large and so it stood to reason that copious amounts would be used in a wide variety of things, including cake.