A while ago, I voiced a vague interest in yoga. So, in a last-gasp effort to make a real family connection before I move away, my mom bought me two DVDs – Yoga for Dummies and Yoga for Inflexible People (yow!) – and a yoga mat. She asks me sometimes if I want to do yoga with her, but I always say no. She thinks this means I’m not doing yoga. But I am. I’m doing yoga. I'm a yoga hustler.
All the beginner’s poses that are supposed to be difficult are, thanks to my preternaturally spider-like balance, quite easy. I can stand on my tongue and juggle beanbags whilst bike-pedaling, no problem. But all the poses that are supposed to make geriatrics triumphally yell “bingo” are hard for me, since my hamstrings are like a pair of composite bowstrings. Seriously, if I jumped off a chair, I’d bounce into the unknown and burn up on reentry. It’s not that I can’t touch my toes. It’s that I HATE to touch my toes. Every now and then there’s an on-screen reminder that, if I can’t do the pose the way the instructor does it, I can do a watered-down Old Person version of it. But fuck that. I’m young, and I’m an unrecognized world-class natural athlete in the Jim Thorpe tradition.
So I sit there, yanking at my toes until my legs start belly dancing with amber waves of pain. Sure, I could do the “for dummies” version, but I’m trying to impress the instructor. I have a big crush on the lady who does the routine. Her name is Sara Ivanhoe, and she’s a Yoga Professional who’s been “Practicing Yoga for more than 10 Years” [sic], according to the box. She’s got that yoga-lady poptimism, full of cant and great job!isms. “This is what I like to call the dessert pose, because it feels so good,” she says, reading off a cue-card, her eyebrows cocked into a come-hither-but-don't-really scimitar. Due to my fondness for dumb girls with great schticks, this kind of stuff totally works for me.
She’s also really good looking, which helps.
It might be violating one of the unspoken rules of yoga to point out via sight-gag that the cat pose totally gives you that prison shower feeling. I’m not sure. All I know is that it feels voyeuristic to watch, because this thing is basically shot like soft-core POV porn, complete with sultry fourth wall-razing eye contact and light petting-style heavy breathing. Plus, it’s fully imbued with the classic Elaine Bennis “I look AMAZING in this leotard” flavor. But she’s talking directly to you, and she thinks that you’re a 65 year old woman, so you start feeling a bit like Mrs. Doubtfire. She’s always telling me, for example, that if I need to balance on a chair, it's perfectly fine. No one is going to laugh at me, and don't get frustrated if I can only swivel my spine three degrees to the left. The important thing, she says, is that yoga is not a competition. It's not me, the post-menopausal purple haired pear-shaped prune juice drinker, against the twenty-something yoga goddess. That's the important thing. It's not a femininity contest.
Sure, it’s creepy, but it's creepy in the great tradition of fucking creepy home fitness tapes – 8 MINUTE ABS, 36 INCH BUSTS, AERIAL PELVIC THRUSTS. Ultimately I think it will be a good thing for me. It’s like how those prematurely pervy kids get started in ballet in 3rd grade because only gaunt girls with money get balletic, only to be mocked by their peers and dance partners alike for a decade. That is, until they go pro as dancers, realize they don’t have the chops to hack it, move off Broadway, start shoplifting, get into corkless wine, and eventually die with newspaper stuffed down their pants to keep out the cold. This small step has actually laid out my whole life plan. When they realize I’m a fraud and kick me out of grad school, I’ll become a traveling yoga grifter, teaching elderly women techniques that actually exacerbate osteoporosis. And I'll do it all from the flatbed of a pickup truck. I'll take their money and speed away, unitard-clad legs pushing the gas to the max. I’m going to be a post-modern snake oil salesman. The world’s first yoga hustler.