Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Cameron Column: Yoga Puts Me in a Bad Position

SICK!! Do you hear me? This is too funny! Mr. Cameron is a great comedian. I always laugh at his antics, but this one made me pee a little.....


Yoga Puts Me in a Bad Position

Copyright 2006 W. Bruce Cameron

Experts tell you that to stay in top physical condition, you should keep your strength and cardiovascular workouts in even proportion with your stretching exercises. For years I have done this, keeping all three at the same level, which is to say, zero. But when a newly opened yoga studio sent me a letter telling me I could come in for a free lesson, I was eager to go because it stated the program would be tailored very specifically for my personal needs, which I took to mean there would be a wine-and-cheese party afterward.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word for "smarter than the average bear." It is based on the belief that if you lie twisted up on the floor, one arm behind your neck and the other sticking out between your legs, ankles on opposing shoulders, your knees grinding into your backbone, you will find yourself in a state of mental and physical serenity that only a chiropractor can fix.

When I arrived at the yoga studio I was disappointed to see that I wouldn't be able to take a lesson after all, because a new Mexican cafe had opened up across the street and was giving out complimentary samples. One has to have priorities in life, and my priority is free food. While I was in the restaurant, however, I ran into two yoga students who enthusiastically sold me on the number-one benefit of yoga: Each lesson ends with a nap! It's called "kielbasa," I think they said--the instructor turns off the lights, gives everyone a blanket, and lets you lie there like a kindergartener at rest time.

I told the woman at the yoga center that I wanted the lesson that ended with the nap that sounded like sausage. Within a few minutes I was led into a large gym and guided to a flat mat on the floor.

The instructor was a painfully slender and fit woman whose arms and legs glowed with fake muscle tone. "Before we begin," she announced, "are there any special needs or requests?"

"I'm not sure if it is a need or a request, but I'd like a pillow," I told her.

She laughed--apparently this wouldn't be "full service" yoga kielbasa. "Let's begin," she said, and within minutes was talking us through a series of complex exercises like this: "Take the outer part of your inner right thigh and push it toward the center of your lower left knee, opening your hips" I fell to the floor as if I'd been tossed from a moving bus. "Now reach for the ceiling," she coaxed softly. "Try to feel your rib cage shatter, as your ligaments snap and your muscles shred. That's right. Feel your organs fail and your brain stem swell."

This might not be exactly what she said in her quiet, evil chant, but it is how I interpreted it. Then she had us bend at the waist, feet and hands flat on the floor, at which time it occurred to me that I'd eaten a bean burrito for lunch--and that I was just moments away from having it occur to other people as well.

The sensation was similar to what happens when you swallow an air hose and then become a professional contortionist. Nearly sobbing with effort, I concentrated on not becoming a human Hindenburg while the instructor continued her sadistic drills without any hint of the promised Polish sausage.

"Up down," she commanded. "Ache hurt. Pain die." (Again, this might not be exactly what she said.)

Finally she had us twist ourselves into a position for which the word "impossible" was invented, and I experienced what I suppose might be termed "explosive decompression." It sounded like a tuba player being sat on by an elephant. Everyone looked at me in alarm. "It's okay, I feel a lot better now," I assured them. The people closest to me were so relieved they had tears in their eyes.

By nap time nearly all the students had left, which I thought was rather odd. After all that work, why wouldn't they stick around for kielbasa? It was the best part!


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