Yoga the Maleficent
In modifying yoga, the word “maleficent” is a contraction of “male” and “deficient”. Yoga was not designed for men any more than QWERTY keyboards were designed for horses to type with their front hooves. Fortunately, today you have the rear half of the horse typing at this keyboard in his underwear. No, I do not have a keyboard in my underwear! Just a penchant for run-on sentences and dangling . . . oh never mind! Men who succeed in yoga fall into two camps: (1) those thin sinewy vegans who women love to chum around with and (2) puffy fat guys whose wives/girlfriends/nutritionists have a small caliber pistol pointed at them.
Did you know that yoga pants have their own websites? Well not the pants actually, butt the incredibly fit models stretching and filling the pants (not a typo). Seemingly the imagination is important to desirous strangers and the yoga pants kind of require some imagination over blank nudity. Well, maybe not. It does make a potent incentive to take up yoga though. However, after attempting yoga, a certain aversion sets in. I liken it to how a cow, with hooves firmly planted in the earth and a tender moist nose requires just one ten thousandth of a second to learn that nine kinds of hell live inside an electric fence. No matter how succulent the grass is over yonder, that tiny strand between self and the ob’jet de desire erases all appeal. What is true for sparky silver wires holds for sparkly silver yoga pants. Tain’t worth it. Yoga is my electric fence.
I know this because I have done yoga. Once. It started when my brother Ed claimed a good yoga practitioner could put his/her ankle behind their head. We all tried then limped around the rest of the Christmas holiday wondering what the hell we thought we were doing? But his claim wasn’t lost on me so I decided to actually take a real yoga lesson. I figured scratching your ear with your toes could express puzzlement at a business meeting like little else. So I tuned in the Youtubes to follow along with a real instructor. The willowy leader with spaghetti joints slid into steady poses that would do an anaconda proud, I moved in the same direction about 10 cm. While she was distinctly rubber band-ish, I held to the more Teutonic school of Lego-man yoga. That is OK, yoga is all about continuous improvement but nobody told me about what happens to you AFTER a half hour of attempting to bend but not break bones, stretch but not snap tendons. I have been in on many a meat butchering session where joints were turned out, snapped cleanly, tendons severed and muscles stripped from bone and facia. Even while doing the lesson I was wondering why I was practicing self-butchery. There must be a chapter in Hannibal Lecter’s book about this practice. I succeeded in reaching my bed and folding myself into my best Lego imitation of the fetal position. Even my finger joints hurt. This is not for me.
I understand that starting yoga after 50 is not easy for all women either however. The Admiral of our household, decided she did not want to become the Rear Admiral, so she now gets up every morning and dutifully rolls on her spandex, pulls her hair back, flips out a special mat with a flourish then joins me for a very civil cup of coffee. Oooohhh the road to hell . . . Sometimes she actually proceeds to do yoga after that coffee and sometimes I am the devil sitting on her other shoulder and I intervene with a pastry or breakfast tacos and yoga loses another soul for the day. Actually, the Admiral should be titled the “Non-Admirable” because while striking her various balanced positions, stretches and spiritual poses so impolitely appropriated from India, she locks herself in her office. All I hear is a droning voice-over from some CD ROM dominatrix of flex. Although I see nothing, I do hear groans, big sighs and an occasional thump that make my toes curl and drives me to calm my nerves with another pecan muffin.
Sounds are part of yoga I am told and with my limited experience I learned that yoga comes with hurled imprecations, exhortations borrowed from a curling skip, accompanied by escaping gas, gasps and occasional sobs. “All natural, everyone is beautiful in their own way, nobody will laugh or make fun of you here in this safe space. Care for some organic, parrot-friendly toasted Kashi nuts?” If I were not gagging on these Kashi particles I would be killing myself laughing, but it is a sincere environment devoid of humor. Yoga instructors lean in toward the “no pain, no gain” theory and it seems to be more along the lines of “We convince, you wince” and “We breathe, you seethe” or maybe “You seek, you shriek”.
I believe there are natural differences in yoga abilities between men and women’s bodies based on inherent flexibility. Though they throw their female partners in the air and swing them around, no one ever sees male cheerleaders, gymnasts, or ice skaters actually do the splits — ever think about that? Would YOU push your junk down on a scuffed up frozen ice rink? Women dance with more cat-like fluidity and precision (MJ excluded of course) and our body weight is more centralized, hence less bending leverage. Finally, we could never pass something larger than a cantaloupe out of any body cavity and survive. Which reminds me of the time I posted a “DO NOT FLUSH!” sign on our toilet while I ran to get Nelson Ball to show him my turtle-on-a-log masterpiece. But I digress to the very infantile potty humor that I would love to introduce into the yoga studio, but noooooo!
Yes, I know there are indeed male yogaists out there. They are the kind of men adept at using polished chopsticks to lift a single oiled edamame bean to their partner’s mouth over her silk blouse with no napkin safety net; note, I can do that too if one of the chopsticks is pointed and the other has a flattened cupped end, sort of a chop-spork. Such demigods know how to properly arrange a place setting with 11 cutlery and glassware pieces in a way that doesn’t make Emily Post leap out of her grave waving a silver soup ladle. Having earned supreme feminine trust, such men are allowed to wash fine garments unsupervised. Yes, they walk among us but they are rare, renaissance and revered but it is unclear if they are humans or gods. The insecure man of common average normalcy might feel diminished by such daemons, yet, we also owe these superhumans the credit for women not entirely dismissing all males as socially impaired. Those ubermensch also have lots of female friends who never quietly call them “Cretin”,“Goat” or “Hillbilly” and sometimes, our valiant examples actually introduce the rest of us to a potential mate or HFL (Handler For Life). Of course those yoga dudes have blackmail power on women, having seen them in sweaty positions formerly only observed by by ER nurses and gynecologists.
The arguments about yoga being very good for the mind and body are irrefutable. Yoga men across India live long enough for their beard length to exceed their height and on-line women yoga instructors buy homes in Malibu and drive Lamborghini convertibles. I don’t know if fast cars make one live longer but I would gladly trade a few years and a perfectly good tooth for a Lambo.
There is a saying “It is easy to lie with statistics but it is easier to lie without them”. The effects of yoga might be masking deeper underlying health benefits that come from the things we are NOT doing as we contort to reach the zenith position of molten pretzel (queue the 7th Grade wrestler pretzel move joke!) while remembering to BREATHE through your mouth as its own multi-tasking challenge. Mouth-breathing comes naturally to some. Thus, voila! Health improves because it is physically impossible to eat curly fries or Doritos in the downward dog pose while furiously breathing. If this time/distraction theory holds, juggling would accomplish the same health improvements as yoga without all the pain, presuming you don’t juggle bowling balls.
I plan to again take up yoga now that I have hit 65, then when I hit 75, I will do another hour-long session. It doesn’t take me long to learn what I don’t enjoy but unfortunately, my memory is not what it used to be.