March 25, 2011
It's a (downward facing) dog's life
This is Wu practicing heat yoga beside the fireplace.
This winter, the Spousal Unit started taking yoga classes and loved it. I was curious but it was her gig so I waited to be invited. I thought it might be a good balance to the other kinds of things I do, like karate, running, weights, jumping rope and smiting a heavy bag with hands and feet.
Karate and yoga are (very) distant cousins, if some of the legends are right. There's a chance that some of its influence came with Buddhism to China and parts farther east.
I expected it to be a nice, relaxing thing that might help with old injuries, of which there are many. There was some of that to be sure. I did not quite expect it to kick my hind quarters, but that's exactly what it's doing, especially in the power and heat yoga classes. I had no idea that plank asanas or positions were even harder to do than knuckle push ups.
Anyhow, on a recent visit to a public library, I came across a fun and diverting book about the early days of yoga in America, where it was often seen as a suspicious and possibly lewd activity that undermined public morals.
The book was The Great Oom: The Improbable Birth of Yoga in America by Robert Love. The "Oom" in question was P.A. Bernard, a Midwestern kid who ran into an apparently authentic yoga master in turn of the century Nebraska of all places. After various run ins with the law and the forces of decency, he established himself on a spread near Nyack, New York and attracted many prominent Americans in the first half of the century. Bernard was part yogi, part huckster, part ladies man and 3/4 showman.
It's a fun read if you feel so inclined. And I think I'm hooked as far as the yoga thing goes.
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