Most of you know that I abhor working out with the burning passion of a thousand white hot suns. Sure, I enjoy the byproducts of exercise: health, better sleep, not looking like a narwhal in a tank top, but by and large I am a lazy bastard and my preferred method of exercise is jogging my memory to remind myself how much I fucking hate to exercise then lying on the couch watching “19 Kids And Counting”. Admittedly, I am a better mom when I exercise. I don’t know if it’s the endorphins or just the time away from them but an hour on the treadmill makes my short people significantly less annoying somehow. Sadly, despite my hearty protestations and raging sense of denial, my knees are 41 years old and they can only take so much pounding.*
*That’s what she said.
My friend Kelly is really into yoga, as is her hippy-dippy husband, Todd. Kell swears that yoga is a panacea for all ailments, both physical and psychological, but then again she also subscribes to the whole gingko-biloba-feng-shui-free-range mentality that all things organic and alternative are good and all things processed and FDA-approved are bad. To me, this kind of thinking is more simplistic than the plot line of an ABC Family series, but to each their own. I guess I can see why yoga would be appealing to many: you gain flexibility, meditate on your breathing, and possibly learn how to go down on yourself. That may actually be the reason why it’s so calming. God knows if most men could lick their own balls there would be a lot less violence in this world.
So I went to a Bikram yoga session with Kelly and all I can say is Ho. Ly. Shit. Never again, folks. First of all, I was crammed in that room for over an hour, nose to nuts with the unwashed masses, breathing in their unmentionables whilst squatting with arms entwined like an orangutan with osteoporosis. The last time I was in that position was 41 years ago in the womb. And the smell? The room stank of a hearty amalgam of asparagus, patchouli, and tacos. And as there was no actual food present in said room I could only surmise that it was the heady stank mélange of 35 people in a 160 degree room. Granted, I did feel pretty tall and Stretch Armstrong-y after class but as the only thing I loathe more than exercise is social interaction, I decided I could practice yoga in the privacy of my own home.
STEP 1: CLEAR YOUR MIND
Sit quietly on your mat and stare into space. Close your eyes partially and find a spot on the carpet or wall to gaze upon. Continue to stare at the spot. Think about the spot. How did it get there? Will it come off? Who made the spot? Oh, shit, there’s another one. How did that spot get on the. . .oh yeah, that’s where I tripped last week and spilled my coffee. Mmmm, I could use a cup of coffee right now. Ooh! And one of those cake pops from Starbucks! I wonder if. . .what? Oh, yeah. Clear my mind. . .stare at the spot. . .shit, I need to clean that off.
STEP 2: VISUALIZE YOUR MANTRA
Find a phrase to listen to in your head to better gain enlightenment
Try to choose something Buddhist-y and repetitive like Om Mani Padme Hum (“All Hail the Jewel In the Lotus”), or Brong Brong (“I Am Imitating a Doorbell). You may wonder if monotonous droning can be at all effective or fulfilling, but it seems to have worked quite well for Tom Brokaw and Nancy Grace over the years. Those are two enlightened mofos.
STEP 3: BE MINDFUL OF YOUR ACTIONS
As you raise your arms think “I am lifting, I am raising”. When you walk, think to yourself “I am lifting my foot. I am placing it down, I am shifting. I am moving”. This practice is also quite effective in other areas of life. For example, riding the bus. “I am shoving. I am scowling. I am giving the stink eye to the douchewand hogging two seats”. Or shopping. “I am spending. I am ignoring my financial obligations. I am putting my needs first.” Just remember to take joy in each step. Remember, the path is the goal and the journey is the destination. . .especially on the bus.
STEP 4: CLEAR YOUR MIND PART 2 – ASK THE UNANSWERABLE
Throughout history yogis have spent hours clearing their minds by pondering such questions as “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”*
*A kind of whooshy, smacky sound, but you have to do it really fast.
or “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”*
*Technically, no. All sound is sensory receptors in your ears that perceive vibrations in the air around them that your brain perceives as sound. Therefore, sound only exists if there is an organism present to take that stimulus and turn it into a thought process that perceives sound. Otherwise, the tree just makes empty vibrations. What? Shut up, I am not a geek.
For me, I tend to focus on the truly unanswerable questions such as “How did ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ get renewed for another season?” or “What’s the deal with Kevin Costner?” That shit can really blow your mind, yo.
STEP 5: CONCENTRATE ON YOUR BREATHING
Begin with a simple contemplation, the Sutra of Breath. On each inhalation think “I am breathing in. I am taking in oxygen. I am calming my breath”. If you start to feel tightening in your chest and a roaring in your ears, exhale. This is known as the Sutra for Not Passing Out. Then begin to count your breath. Tell yourself “I am numbering my breathes. I am mindful of the number.” If you’ve been breathing for a while and the number doesn’t get higher or you lose count that’s OK. This is known as the Sutra of I Was Told There Would Be No Math. Finally, do not forget to freshen your breath. Be ever mindful of oral hygiene and the liberal application of Tic Tacs. This is known as the Sutra of Having Garlic Chicken for Lunch.
STEP 6: ACHIEVE THE LOTUS POSITION
Recite to yourself “I am flexible. I am a bending willow. I am strong.” Then cross your legs, positioning your feet atop your thighs. This is known as the Lotus Position or padmasna, which is Sanskrit for “Holy shit, I have just dislocated my femur”. Once feet are in place, pull your toes in as far as possible while saying Namu Bai Datsu which is Sanskrit for “I am not flexible. I am not a fucking willow. I am in need of urgent medical care.” Do not panic. You may never walk again, but you are now in perfect harmony with the universe. Huzzah!
I get the basic concept of yoga. It teaches one to unify the mind and body, while separating the self from attachments such as dignity and self-respect when seen doing a Downward Dog with your junk hanging out. But for me, the thought of that much time inside of my head is terrifying. I’m a twisted, hot mess up there, y’all. One hour of silent contemplation for me is like watching a six-hour David Lynch/Quentin Tarantino film fest and no one comes out alive. So in the meantime I’ll keep puttering along on my treadmill, ignoring my aching joints, and seeking my own Path of Enlightenment through my Holy Trinity of Starbucks, Target, and Nathan Fillion. Namaste, party people.
PS: For those of you who didn't know, yesterday was Nathan Fillion's birthday. I hope you all celebrated accordingly.