“Surely if God had meant us to do yoga, he would have put our heads behind our knees.” – Rod Stewart
Believe it or not (and I am guessing at least 5 of my 7 readers are going with “not”) I am really trying to make more time to write. There are a lot of things in works that I would reeeeeeally love to talk about here, things that I am super-dee-dooper excited about, but they are still in works, and I have decided that I am going to keep my mouth shut about them until such time when I have something to SHOW you what I’ve been doing when not making scribbles what make words on the internets. Stay tuned, your patience will be rewarded with mediocrity like none you’ve ever witnessed.
If you’ve been keeping along, then you know that I’m embroiled in a war against myself to get healthier using means that I have not used in prior drives. Namely toning down the using anger and self-loathing to power my exercise in favor of self-love. Probably not the best idea to use the term “at war with myself” when self-love is the goal, but that segues nicely to my next point; anyone with half a brain understands that positive reinforcement is better than negative reinforcement. The problem is when negative reinforcement is the establishment and self-love is the radical, the conversion is not quite so simple as “hey dummy, go with the better thing.” Real change, real hardwiring your brain to new ways of thinking is hard. As someone who has legitimately made some serious changes over the years, I feel absolutely comfortable saying it’s a real bitch. People say they will change all the time, and more often than not, they try for a little bit, then slide back into their rut. Me included. While I have successfully enacted some significant changes, there are far more failure stories of mine than success ones. Actually doing it requires a near blind devotion to your cause, which will probably see a frequent stream of backslides that you have to forgive yourself for and just keep trying to do better. It is beyond easy to slip back into your comfort zone, even when your comfort zone is fucking atrocious. Which is more or less where I am now.
One of the steps I am taking towards this greater goal is getting involved in things that promote this sort of wellness beyond hitting the gym like it owes me money. When I got involved with the GateKeepers (something that is sadly on a questionably permanent hiatus) one of the guys (and quickly echoed by several others) recommended that I practice yoga frequently, as the various stretches and poses would help keep me limber enough to where the rigors of roller derby would take less of a toll. He even made a specific recommendation as to a program (specifically put together with men in mind) that works great for him. This guy is older than me by more than a decade, and still killing it out on the track, so I was wise to hear him out. Someone else had messaged me on FB (not connected in any way to the GateKeepers) recommending that same program, saying that it kicked his ass, but if you stuck with it, you would be very pleased with the results.
Now this doesn’t mean that I did it, just that I looked into it. The price tag was a little high for something I was not yet convinced of in spite of numerous endorsements from people in significantly better shape than me, so that’s about where that ended. The universe sometimes gives me really obvious hints that I promptly ignore.
Fast forward a ways, and I come across one of these inspirational videos of this guy who lost THREE HUNDRED POUNDS in FIFTEEN MONTHS doing yoga. Obviously there is a lot more to it than that, and just as obviously, this was an exceptional example and should not be judged as “typical results.” During this video, in one of the vfx cuts that isn’t showing the guy’s transformative process, I saw just a tiny glimpse of the name of the program that had been recommended to me by all those guys. Upon further research of said program, a lot of the success stories involved reeeeeally impressive numbers. Maybe not as good as that guy, but definitely enough to be exciting.
I was a bit more intrigued now, and went looking online for it again, this time with a much more open mind to the idea of trying it out. I’ll admit, part of it was that I felt challenged by that video. Not inspired, and it’s an important distinction. Here’s a guy who looks older than me (but he might not be) who knocked this shit out of the park. If he can do it, I can do it. And moreover, that guy has terrible hair. Kinda like if Larry Fine had a bad…, er, worse hair day. Me and my totally sweet hair would not be outdone by this guy. I wish I could say that this was a joke, but these are actual thoughts that went into my decision.
The price tag still made me grimace a bit (even though I have multiple games I have paid more for) (I know, shut up) but blah blah blah investing in myself or somesuch fantasy dragon bullshit. Click click click, and it’s on its way.
Practicing yoga (or as I call it, “yoging,” because my time is too important to waste on those extra three syllables) in America is a little odd. Looking around at other things online, there’s a lot on bigger women who do yoga, but not as much with men, and it’s understood that if you’re a dude who does yoga, you likely have a six-pack, a wistful gaze, lots of tribal tattoos, and probably also dreads. I have none of those things. Well, almost. My eyes can produce a fair amount of wist if I really need them to.
The interesting thing is lots of the sites promoting yoga for men tend to deride the apparent femininity of yoga, as if it were a bad thing. For example: this post on the laughably titled “Testosterone Nation” And here, “big bastards” means “big manly muscle bound bastards.”
For a practice that was developed by and dominated by men for hundreds of years, I am fascinated at the current perception of yoga as something that only rich thin white women do that is somehow emasculating. Also, experts (read: anyone with more knowledge on the subject than mine) suggest that this man’s yoga poses are NOT WELL EXECUTED.
When the kit arrives, I am pretty excited. I am admittedly a little put off by the dudebro marketing of it, but forgive our collective cultural silliness in order to make some magic happen. I read through all of the materials and pop the first DVD into the laptop, where it will show me 13 basics. Man, for something that looks like a whole lot of standing around, yoging is hard. At the end of that first session, I was plenty sweaty and equally happy that I had done it and happy that it was over. The next day, I was feeling it all over. Looking at the calendar that came with it, it was going to ramp up pretty fast. If Larry was able to keep up, then I could see how this would melt someone down like a candle you light at both ends. I have been adding more yoging into the schedule. I am not currently on pace to beat Larry, but time doesn’t matter as much as results. Part of this, one could argue one of the bigger points of this post (that I have ignored since talking about it in the beginning, hooray for consistency!) is that in addition to the eventual ability to breathe fire, teleport short distances for tactical purposes and kick someone in the face from across the room, yoging has a number of mental/spiritual benefits as well. Things that are supposed to result in greater peace of mind, improved clarity, etc., which it cannot be argued are things I desperately need if I am actually going to make this change work.
…but at this point, I have not yet discovered them. My biggest moment of clarity so far was while in the corpse pose (a nice cool down at the end of yoging where you pretty much just lie there are try to consciously relax everything in your body) thinking that it is weird that the phrase “take a shit” does not mean the same thing as the phrase “give a shit” even though that’s pretty much what you are doing. Mind blown right? I’m assuming that later down the line there will be more profound bursts of enlightenment.
This post is dedicated to my dear friend Sara, who is responsible for a truly appalling amount of the ideas (and often quotes) that end up here.