My wife made a suggestion the other night. “Josh, we should take a yoga class together sometime.” These are the words I’ve dreaded hearing ever since she started taking classes herself several months ago.
My response was simple and rather noncommittal. “Uh, yeah, sure. Sometime sounds great.”
To me, yoga is a combination of ancient torture techniques and music that is best suited for the lobby of an acupuncturist’s office. Besides, yoga involves the two things in life that every man strives to avoid doing: stretching and walking around barefoot.
Most of us men have a basic set of manners and rules that we follow. The older generations in our lineage taught us these very basic things, and we pass them down to the younger versions of ourselves. When pressed, most of us can set a dinner table, although we don’t readily admit this. Most of us don’t mind vacuuming. We generally won’t offer to do it, but if we are asked, we comply. The taller men don’t even mind reaching for things on the top shelves for their shorter wives, although we’re puzzled as to why wives would put something they constantly need so far out of reach. But we never stretch, and we never walk around barefoot.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I think there’s a place for yoga in society. And let me be the first to admit that I could benefit from stretching before beginning any sort of physical activity. I wake up every morning surfboard stiff, and I return to bed every evening the same way. At some point during the day, I gain enough mobility to put on my socks without shrieking in pain. In fact, just yesterday, I was able to pick up the paper without hearing anything pop in my back, hamstrings, or knees. Otherwise, though, I’m a pretty rough sight to behold.
My wife really enjoys yoga, and I’m happy for her. But I cower in fear at having to go to a yoga studio. No human being who isn’t married to me should be forced to watch me attempt a downward dog. I also have a genetic predisposition to plumber’s crack. So, you see, it isn’t my best interest I have in mind.
I may have skirted the issue with my noncommittal response the first time my wife asked me to do this, but I found myself stuck when she asked a second time. Finally, I told her I would be willing to do a brief session in our home, just the two of us. My conditions were simple. The blinds had to be drawn, my children couldn’t live stream the event, and my cat had to plead the fifth if any of her fellow cats asked her to confirm the rumor. I know cats talk to each other. Once these conditions were set in place, it was time to begin.
The video my wife selected said it was introductory, but the woman on the front cover of the video looked as if she were imitating the letter U. I look like a lowercase i most of the time, maybe an uppercase T if I put my arms out to the side. Sometimes, my poor posture makes me look like the letter C. I will never be the letter U. I accept that.
The lights were dimmed, my uncovered feet stood hesitatingly on the mat, and my cat watched from the top step, with judgment in her eyes. My stomach in knots, I began imitating the instructor’s breathing.
During these first few minutes, I didn’t remember much. My face was beet red, and my left hamstring was begging me to stop. I tried to imagine that we were playing drunk Twister instead of doing sober yoga. It was a harrowing start.
The music was actually quite soothing. I did have a thought that maybe listening to Metallica would give me the flow of adrenaline needed to achieve the cobra pose, which happens to be my favorite pose because it has a very macho name.
We navigated the various yoga positions, my wife fully engaged in the act while I sobbed quietly to myself. I glanced at the clock. Six minutes had passed. Fourteen more to go in this crash course into anger stretching.
Time passed slowly—really slowly.
Finally, it was over. I lay there on my back for a few minutes, contemplating the rest of my life.
“Wasn’t that great?” asked my wife. I wasn’t sure. On the one hand, I was sweating, tired, and hot. On the other, I didn’t dislocate anything. Nothing popped. I didn’t die.
Would I do it again? Hard to say. Probably. But I’d wear socks.