Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Praise God and Pass the D20

I am excited this week to have a Thursday night free for the first time in over a month, which means that I get to go play Dungeons & Dragons and eat too much pizza as had once been my traditional weekly event.  It is getting hard, though, to keep my head wrapped around the boom shacka lacka of yoga and the BOOM! HEADSHOT! of a D&D game.  For guideance I turn to the font of confusing wisdom, the Bhagava Gita.  Below is how I interpret the central message of the Gita.  Since in my head everything looks like a comic book, the part of Arjuna will be played by the Green Arrow, and the part of Krishna will be played by Doctor Manhattan (the five people in the world who know both comics and Hindu myth will get why that’s funny).

Krishna, my charioteer who is also God in disguise, I am verily confused!
You have told me that to live a good life I must always carry God in my heart, to think of doing good deeds, to practice ahimsa (the rejection of violence), and to keep my mind to the good task ahead and not to crave reward.
Yet you also urge me to shoot arrows into the brainpans of my cousins over yonder?
What can I say?  If following God’s will was so simple there wouldn’t be so many book about it.  Let’s ride!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Yoga In Your Underwear Part 1- Men Don’t Deal Well With Mixed Messages

Think clean thoughts, dude.

A friend who is taking her first yoga class tonight asked me what she should wear.  “You are going to move around a lot,” I told her, “so I’d suggest either something very loose or something very tight, depending on what makes you comfortable.”  What I did not tell her is that she should come in her underwear.

I imagine that most people who would read this blog have seen Briohny Smith's "Yoga By Equinox" video, which features a woman in her underwear doing yoga.  If you haven’t seen it, take a look below.

When this first made its rounds on the internet I got involved in a long discussion on Facebook about the sexualizing of yoga.  Many female friends were thrilled to see this video of a strong woman with a strong practice finding such popularity.  Then I asked the question “why is she in her underwear?”  There was a lot of booing and hissing from the masses at this comment, and some suggestions that I was being a reactionary jerkface.  Well, maybe, but I think I was expressing the paradox that a lot of yoga dudes have.  We are awfully fond of strong women who have amazing practices.  We are often fond women in their underwear.  We also exert a lot of effort keeping those two notions separate in our heads. 

I sometimes wonder if this is the reason that so many yoga classes have so few men.  I’ve talked to many guys who have said they tried out a couple of yoga classes but spent all their time with an eyeful of spandex instead of listening to directions on postures.  They don’t come back to yoga, and stick to golf and beer instead.  We hate being that creepy guy that you talk about after class. 

Having said all that, women should dress however they want in class in whatever makes them comfortable.  Guys deal with their inner dorkiness all day long; yoga is just a different spin on a perpetual problem.  Eventually we deal with our crap and stick to what’s on our mat, instead of checking out who’s around us.  At least that’s the rumor.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Yoga In California

Last week while on a business trip to California I took the opportunity to go to a local yoga class every night after work.  On my last night I went to one center’s “Happy Hour Yoga”, a $5 all-levels class.  Perfect way to end a long business trip, I thought.  I chatted with the instructor, a very bouncy and over caffeinated woman who was subbing for the regular instructor, and told her that I was visiting from the East Coast.  “Right on, man, come on in!”

An hour later I came up out of savasana with a look of shock on my face.  The instructor came up to me and asked, “So how was that?  Is that how they do yoga back East?”

“Not even close,” I said.

“What do we do different?  Or...” she said with a conspiratorial wink, "...what do we do better?”

“Well, first off, when you start a class by saying ‘take whatever comfortable position you want’ no one would then come around and adjust your comfortable seated position.  In fact, no one would ever walk up behind you while your eyes are closed then grab your head and shove it down.  No one back East would talk incessant blather throughout the class.  No one shouts ‘Be in the NOW!  Be in the NOW!’ over and over again.  We like to give people a little bit of space to let you find your posture without having to listen to the instructor wax philosophical with quotes from the motivational rack at the supermarket.  No one back East would be able to keep a straight face if an instructor said ‘be the stretch’ in an oozing, quasi-organic tone.  And back East we like to let savasana be the time where you find peace and contentment, pull your mind and soul together, and exist in a happy, quiet place.  No one would ever spend all of savasana banging gongs, slamming drums, and making the cacophonous racket that you just did for the last ten minutes.  You know people with PTSD are finding their way to yoga, right?  Do you think the clashing cymbals are going to help them?”

At least that’s what I would have said if I hadn’t spent the flight out reading about ahimsa.  Instead I smiled, put my jeans back on, and walked until I found a Thai restaurant.  That was some good pad thai.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

So Much Kung Fu My Body Rejects Poison

Recently I read several books with characters that are so in touch with their bodies, are so Zen, have Kung Fu so bad ass that their bodies reject poison.  The first was the title character in an Immortal Iron First comic book, then later that same day in an audiobook of a Remo Williams, the Destroyer book (Chinese Puzzle, book #3 in the series, which per the authors is much better than their crappy first two novels and the real start of the series).

The notion of bodies rejecting poison concerned me, because I take poison every day.  One of the heart medications that my bionic cardiac system needs to work effectively is based on a rat poison.  Given that I need poison to live, will I ever be pure enough inside that my body would reject poison?

Yes, it will, as I learned last week. 

On a business trip I stopped at a rest area looking for a drink and a snack.  Walking by a McDonald’s I saw that they now offer Fish McBites, which are just what they sound like.  I still eat fish occasionally, so I went to a McDonald’s counter for the first time in eight months and said “one snack size McBites and a small french fry, please.”

Half an hour later down the road I learned that my body does indeed reject poison.  Luckily I was close to my destination and was able to charge through the front door and dash to the bathroom in the nick of time.  No more Fish McBites for me.

My Kung Fu is huge.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013