Friday, August 15, 2008

Sickness, Health, and Some Serious Yoga Crap

This has been a rough summer for a lot of people I know—first one friend broke his fibula, running, then another, who plays guitar for a band called Drums Like Machine Guns (the one time I saw them, they did a seven minute set of...well, you pretty much have to catch one of their gigs yourself), was crowd-surfing in a mosh pit until he got dropped—compound fracture, two plates and 14 screws in his left arm. So...I’m riding my bike in the park, thinking about how my mom says "bad things come in threes"—I'm not at all superstitious, but, for some reason, seem to believe in this—and really hoping one of these bumps in the road doesn't make me number three....but...I make it home and see there's an e-mail from another friend who, as it turns out, is laid up with pneumonia. So, much as I sympathize with her and the other walking wounded, I start thinking cool, I'm safe. But then, who do I hear from but my friend who's hiking the Pacific Crest Trail—except, at the moment, he's not hiking anywhere because he’s got a staph infection in his left foot from doing forty-mile days on a major blood blister. I tell this to the guy with the plates in his arm, and he, with the wicked smile of the already-afflicted, responds "they're coming in sixes, now. Two more to go....."

The best way to find out if yoga’s really doing anything for me is to stop for a little while...even just do less—go to class once a week instead of three times, skip the usual don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it morning practice for a couple days, stop trying to be mindful—I find myself thinking “jeezus, did I really usedta feel this crappy all the time?” Then, other times, going the opposite direction, I’ve gotten really buzzed—like John Lennon sang—the deeper you go, the higher you fly, the higher you fly, the deeper you go (though he was singing about hard drugs, not yoga) (seriously—you think “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” is a cute song about a guy and his pet primate? Try googling the phrase “monkey on my back,” then listen to it again). (Then, according to this hippie freak I know—he goes by Jedediah—yeah, that kinda hippie freak—if you meditate from the time you take a hit of acid until you start getting off, it really takes the edge off). (Whatever). Of course, the trouble with any kind of flying on the ground is that you’re bound to crash, eventually. But, I guess, even that’s part of the process...and the experience does leave behind the knowledge that a fresher, more vivid state of mind is possible...and that it’s better and lasts longer if you get there without the psychedelic drugs.

If God dropped acid, would he see people?
Steven Wright

I’m not even close to being an expert on the yoga thing—even though I have a blog with yoga in the title—I just go to classes, read books, think a lot about the stuff, and, even if the Hindu metaphysics don’t really do it for me, it all seems to be moving me toward much better physical and mental health. Basically, I see yoga as about opening, and cynicism as about closing, and wonder if humor might be a bridge between the two...we’ll see.

such an agnostic stance is not based on indifference. It is founded on a passionate recognition that I do not know.
Stephen Batchelor

Thanks to those who’ve left all the wonderful comments—including a person named Gina who said she spent all morning at work reading through past posts. Honestly, nothing could make me happier than to hear that people are reading Yoga for Cynics when they’re supposed to be working. Also, disagreement is more than welcome—half the time, I probably don’t agree with me, either.


berryberr said...

Lovely blog! Will check back often!

Gina said...

glad i could bring a bit of sunshine into your day :)

really loving the blog and can't wait for more. perhaps one day our (somewhat) cynical yogic paths will cross

Anonymous said...

Great thought provoking post. That's a shame about the guitar player from Drums Like Machine Guns. I like their music, actually have them as a friend on my myspace.

And for some reason I always thought that John Lennon was talking about Yoko in that, ha!

Mark said...

I need to get back into yoga. I remember exactly that crappy feeling when I missed a day. Now I've gone over a year without it, so guess how I'm doing? Crappy is normal and I have only a vague memory of the other thing. Why'd I stop? Change in where I was working made getting to the people I like doing it with more difficult. Excuses. Maybe I'll run out of them as the summer winds down.

amit said...

hi, i am person practicing yoga regularly. so i think sinus is first disease emit by it own from the body, if yoga is done for more than a week regularly and if you want to know more about yoga then mail me at

scatterhaiku said...

really interesting line there, yoga as opening, cynicism as closing, and humor as a bridge... made me ponder a bit. :)

i'm sold on the idea of cynicism as closing. :) as for yoga, unfortunately, i haven't yet given that a go... what i've tried are breathing exercises and meditation as taught to us by a priest back in my high school and looking back, i do have to say that the experience was about opening up, to the sounds and stimuli from the world around, which are usually not even noticed.

as for humor as a bridge, i think i'm pretty sold on that as well. :) and it really is a bridge in many ways. it takes on special significance because in my culture, humor is prevalent, even where it might seem inappropriate, as a way to deal, to take a more honest look at one's self, or to make a point to someone with less chance of offending.

so again, nice line there. :) will be sure to swing by again one of these days. :)

Matt said...

Thanks Jay, lol. As soon as I read this, I did a post on the little known origin of that particular Beatles song.

Anonymous said...

Superstition, eh? Well you know, there might just be something in that. But only because we have the power to influence things with our thoughts (sometimes). So if we're obsessing over something then its possible it will happen, damn it.

So I think the trick is to be aware but not attached to the outcome if that's possible!

The whole point of yoga is exploration from my perspective. So yeah, trying to see what happens when you don't do it is a valid option for a while... but ultimately you need to choose if you're staying, going or neither. It makes a difference.

Re: the Steven Wright quote... you know in traditional yogic philosophy they say when Shiva closes his eyes to dream the world comes into being.

Which is a short saying with alot of dynamite to unpack!

I agree with your statement about yoga = opening, cynicism = closing. My goal in life is to always try to open, not close. But its not always that simple! :D

Barbara Weibel said...

I loved what you said about stopping Yoga for a few days to REALLY find out if it is doing any good. I love my Yoga, but the whole point of the physical practice is to get to the meditation part. So, I only manage Yoga a couple of times a week, but I am trying to meditate every day. Then, something comes along the other day that distracts me and I don't meditate that morning. Of course, my whole day turns into a mess because I haven't set the tone with my meditation. Why is it that we resist doing what we KNOW is good for us?

Love your blog, added you to my feed reader and will come back often.
Barbara Weibel

pshaik said...

Yes, practicing yoga asana is good for health. Nice blog.

polona said...

interesting and well written blog... but then, i've always liked a somewhat cynical approach to life

PowderLover said...

I think there may be something about this year in general. I've had a lot of friends going through hard times. In the beginning of the year, I was thinking my year was great, but then I cracked a rib. Oh, well. Bodies heal when we listen and are gentle with them.


Wonderland Baby said...

You know, I tried Bikram yoga for the first time last week and while I was in class I had thoughts along the lines of "cruel and unusual punishment". However, I will say that I immediately changed my mind the next day when my body, felt so much better. I can't explain it and hopefully with some research will be able to some day, but definitely a mind and body altering experience. Kudos on the blog, I'll be back =)

Bill said...

My eyes believe in the lotus position, but the rest of my body remains agnostic.

Very nice blog.

buddha_girl said...

Aha! Now I know from whence you came! A certain someone is one of my true sisters in this world. I'm glad to meet you through her! may actually be the venue through which I adventure into a yoga class again. The last time I took one I was three months pregnant and couldn't find a way to position myself so that I didn't feel like I was prone on top of a VERY hard grapefruit.

I know I need to be mindful.
And calm.
And centered.

Getting there is the problem these days.

yellowdog granny said...

i did a lot of things on acid, but never did i think to meditate...maybe i was to cynical.?
im thinking about starting up my yoga again..i wish i could remember why i quit..oh i remember...lazy..
thanks for stopping by and saying howdy...
i think i like it here.

Yogamum said...

Awesome post!

I keep testing to see if yoga really does anything for me, by laying off practice for a while. Then everyone tells me I'm being really cranky and annoying, so my conclusion is YES.

Love your blog, BTW! I will be reading!

Anonymous said...

You know what sucks more than fracturing your fibula? Being the spouse of Man With Fractured Fibula on moving day. Next time I expect to see my woes more adequately addressed.