Monday, January 26, 2009

On Yoga

One subject on this blog whose treatment is out-of-line with its importance in my life is yoga. I do it every morning for about 20-30 minutes. And, I've only being doing it for a year or so.

Let me just say that it is AWESOME. Forget the chanting, the *feel your thoughts float away like a butterfly* nonsense. Yoga is minimally about stretching and strengthening one's body. It'll improve your posture, respiration, and yes, even your *chi*.

What's great about yoga, beyond the results, is that you can do it without breaking a sweat; you can do it after eating a hearty breakfast; and that you can do it anywhere on this overheated Earth. It's cheap to boot!

I first started doing free on-demand yoga classes from Comcast on my color TV. Then I borrowed a book. Most recently I've been cruising the web and YouTube for new poses and stretches. That chick whose video I posted the other night (for her *qualities important to the superficial male*) I've actually found to be quite a good resource.

Here's the crux of yoga. Can you bend over, keeping your legs straight and touch your toes? Probably not - especially if you're a dude. Yoga people can not only do this, they can bend over so far that they can place their palms flat on the ground.

I mistakenly thought that I couldn't touch my toes because "I'm not flexible" and "Because of my bad back". But I discovered that my inability was actually due to *tight hamstrings*. I am happy to report that I can now not only touch my toes but almost get my palms completely flat on the ground. Note that I am still brimming with masculinity and I still have the very bad back!

None of this is philosophy or *detoxification*....It's pure anatomy. Hamstrings are, well, strings and you have about a bazillion of them (alright, maybe not that many). They get tight from our sedentary, automotive lifestyles and wreak havoc on our backs. Tightness in our bodies is a locally contagious affliction. What kills me to this day is that out of all of my doctors, not a one of them ever told me to stretch my hamstrings (or lose my gut) to mitigate my bad back. Remember I suffer from TOS (and had its invasive surgery) because of a freakish car accident almost 11 years ago now.

Not only did the doctors all push useless, expensive pills on me, and not only did they fail to recommend yoga, THEY STRONGLY ADVISED THAT I NOT DO STRENUOUS STRETCHING.

So they told me NOT TO DO the one thing that has helped the most!

The next thing you know, our powers-at-be will be prescribing for our debt-ravaged society....EVEN MORE DEBT!

Okay, I digress.

Yoga is one of these things that has the potential to really transform you physically. It awakens muscles you, even if a one-time star athlete, never knew you had. Heck, later in his career NBA icon Larry Bird used to *stretch* for a solid hour each day.

You naysayers need to realize that flexibility and strength are in no way disjoint goals.

I could add plenty more here on yoga but my time is short. Though I am going to add one final thought.

My wife - sagacious broad that she is - had unsuccessfully tried for years to get me to do yoga. I rejected the idea reflexively. I was turned off by the *people* who were into it, the airheaded philosophy of it, and probably the group/class aspect. I like to do things, make that just about everything, by myself. Essentially, I refused a life-enhancing practice because of the people, whom I believed, have co-opted it.

What I've truly learned over the past couple of years is to not reject ANYTHING based upon its practitioners.

Yeah, almost four years ago I set out to Marginalize Morons and in the process I accidentally got a whole lot more tolerant of them. Seriously.

So, again. Be careful what you ignorantly deprecate. How many meathead 'old coots' do you know that laughed at golf, retired, and then lamented the fact that they didn't take up the game decades prior?

My next post in this vein, will explain to y'all why I have started passionately studying ballet.


Anonymous said...

i second this. I don't do it anymore but when I was really flexible I could get my palms on the ground. I can still touch my toes with ease.

For a few years I could barely walk from Plantar Fasciitis. Doctors gave me orthotics, pills, and wanted to operate. For 2 years I worked on it before I took control and started stretching and strengthening. While I will never run a marathon or hike another mountain i am now more or less pain free most of the time. My podiatrist never once told me to stretch. They just want you to keep coming back over and over again. The surgeries for PF are highly ineffective and the recovery is long and painful, plus I had it in both feet. Please note-PF is mostly had by obese people. I am not, I just have poorly designed feet.

Slow out.

CaptiousNut said...


I thought for a moment you were going to second *ballet*!

As for the doctors, let's not forget that they are mostly ignorant 'old coots'. Most that I've seen are obese themselves and have no clue what yoga is or what it can do.

Yoga apparently needs a lobbyist or two.

Taylor Conant said...


I have become a huge doctor skeptic recently. They're in a protected, monopoly industry and the truth is that most of them KNOW IT!

I have been giving yoga some serious consideration lately. I see value in it if I can get past the spiritual mumbo-jumbo (though I do like the idea of deep-breathing excersises and "meditative" peace a little bit... I feel like I could use a break from my own thoughts, even if I'm not going to buy in so far as to feel I am "one with the world.") I got out of my work-out routine recently but before I did I had been trying to spend time stretching each morning before lifting and I was getting close to reaching my toes. Now, I am embarrased to say, I can barely get my hands halfway down my shins. I am REALLY tight.

So, I've been looking at yoga. You mentioned a book, which is it and why do you recommend it? If a person is mindful of the recession and trying to do things as cheaply as possible, is it as simple as watching a few youtube vids and memorizing the movements and then doing them yourself?

Gotta start hitting the gym again, the the proximity to New Year's is entirely coincidental, I assure you!

Glad to hear yogurt is giving you some relief

CaptiousNut said...

The book I linked to in the post - Rodney Yee's book. I didn't choose that book - it was laying in my mother's basement. Any book will suffice. Libraries have them. Also you could just read a bunch of stuff online. The reading is necessary at the beginning. I would say it's like *talking about the golf swing* before hitting balls for a beginner.

Down to your shins? That's bad, particularly for a 'young coot' like yourself. The good news is it's totally and easily rectifiable.