A loathsome concession involving other people’s buttocks.
I used to make fun of yoga — as I do all self-satisfied bourgeois vaguely liberal things — until I actually tried it. It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, and remains so. The beginners elementary poses may look easy, from a spectator’s view, for they feel not the burning strain of muscles upon which such poses rely. There are usually three versions of each pose, in which arms and legs and backs are bent more acutely. To have the entire trembling weight of my body on one knee, and to be asked to somehow lift that knee, is impossible; then, to watch my yoga instructor and a few of the more advanced students do exactly that is both humiliating and a miracle to watch. I say this because I really respect yoga, my instructor, and its practitioners, to whom I humbly and gratefully consider myself as belonging, somehow, if only in my head, and through the auspices of simply paying to get in.
There is a “spiritual” component as well, and I’m relieved to say that word in a secular sense. While yoga practice does invoke or even employ Buddhist tendencies, a good instructor will not be didactic or preachy about it, as is so common with most religious or spiritual teaching. In short, it’s chill. We start by focusing our gaze inward, envisioning our breath as a circle. One breathes into the belly, to the back of the spine, and out. Visually negotiating our breath, however conceptual and presumptive, is a technique used to turn off the radio static of our minds. We then, together, invoke the timeless ohm, filling the room with our mutual harmonies. I will get goosebumps sometimes. I am the last person to mention God, but if there is one, she might be smiling those moments. I call God a “she” as a reprieve, a preemptive apology, to brace the reader for what follows.
I’m sorry — sorry that such a spiritual experience must be summoned in a room full of pretty much amazing buttocks. Verily, I say this without any humor or irony, and I cringe. I am usually one of the only 3-or-4 males present in a class consisting of 20-or-so women, and these women, again, have the most amazingly luscious yet taut buttocks in a 30 mile radius of which I, a boring heterosexual sack of emptiness and desire, am the stunned center. It is simply overwhelming. The amazing buttocks-to-dull life ratio is usually 1:10 in generic society, as we bear the latter for brief encounters with the former. Two trips to the post office, you see one great ass. One trip to yoga, you see twenty. The math is insane. The stigma of men doing yoga-for-buttock-vicinity may or may not be true, though I’m embarrassed that this article, inadvertently, will probably support the former.
There is one move in particular called the “Ardha Uttanasana,” prosaically known as the “half-standing forward bend,” in which a woman spreads their legs wide apart while standing (imagine a baseball player about to steal a base) and slowly bends over. At this point, in the same pose myself, my face extends less than ten inches from her sweaty aura. The birth of my only son flashes before me, her humid oven a pastry chef’s party of illegitimate heirs. This is uniquely different from other buttock exposing poses such as the “cat” and “cow” pose (rounded and arched back, respectively), which are performed parallel to one another, therefore offering only a lateral view; or, the “downward dog” and “happy baby,” where one’s buttocks are facing the ceiling. Shame on the ceiling!
Should the reader call this contributor a misogynist or douchebag, he will merely bow in concession. Perhaps a less sad man, or better person, would honor yoga by restraining himself from the exact petty ties of pedestrian vulgarity from which practitioners attempt to escape through this very practice. It seems so hypocritical to bring one’s hands to prayer, to close one’s eyes, and to call ohm whilst images of perfectly tone yet luscious bodies corrupt one’s mind with their imagined carnal orientations configured around the amorous fulcrum of its host. That would be me, in case you were too deep in meditation to notice that.
Occasionally, before class, we will be asked to “say hello to the person next to you.” My confidence drops like a hernia, while my self-consciousness swells as the sunrise she will observe tomorrow, in a better apartment, at a better side of town, next to a better man. An attractive women in her mid-twenties, her ponytail the imagined handle for other things, subtle nipples the dots of exclamation points marking the day’s best surprise, with a faint cordial smile I shall never make wider, will say hello. The toilet may be in the restroom, but the large piece of sh-t seems to be floating on my yoga mat. It has the same name as mine. “Hi, I’m Jimmy,” it says, hiding my gaze in her third eye, that soft neutral patch between her real ones, those being too lovely to bear. Namaste.