John Gee

John Gee

My wife wants me to take yoga classes, but I don’t want to. Admittedly, yoga has been around for thousands of years and it has been perfected and validated as an excellent pathway to mental and physical health. But I have a resistance to physical exercise that is probably due to being involved with too many youthful sports run by coaches with too many personality disorders. Now I am happy to call sitting in a hot tub and then walking to a coffee shop an exercise routine, and will let the rest of the world sweat its way to nirvana. The problem with all this reluctance is that there are so many yoga teachers in St. Pete that it is hard to ignore them, and now that yoga classes have crept up into our building, my wife has ramped up her husband-improvement campaign.

Do a Google Map search on yoga studios in our area and you will see that Pinellas County has more red dots than a middle schooler with measles, and they are offered in every type of venue. Yoga is offered in museums, bars, gyms, condo buildings, hospitals, marinas, golf courses, schools, parks, swimming pools, hotels, beaches, churches, synagogs, and, yes, even in yoga studios. Along with this tsunami of classes, there is an additional need to determine what type of yoga you want. There is Anusara, Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Lyengar, Javamukti, Krypalu, and Kundalini. Added to this you have kid yoga, adult yoga, pet yoga, power yoga, hot yoga, pre/postnatal yoga, and for all I know, post-nasal-drip yoga. For a person who can’t even handle all the choices of peanut butter to buy, this is way too much decision making for me.

Once upon a time the thought of yoga rarely entered American’s minds and if it did, the default visions were bongo beating beatniks, swamis, or odd hippie Californians. Gradually the Jane Fonda fitness for eternal youth ethos took over, but the reality of blisters, blown knees, strained muscles, and watching Aaahnold devolve into whatever he is these days forced us to rethink what we were doing to our aging bodies. Soon, this Calvinistic no-pain/no-gain philosophy was turned on its head, and yoga gave fitness-seeking Americans a gain-with-no-pain mantra that has evolved into a nationwide mania. And why shouldn’t it? Running, pumping, sweating and straining is okay it you are a twenty-something looking for a six-pack to help attract a mate. But there comes a time in life when all you can expect from exercise is the ability just to bend over and tie your shoes, and this is where yoga comes in.

My lack of yoga initiative may be caused by general laziness, or the fact that it seems more of a female thing. Women are just more flexible than men, and yoga does require some gruesome looking contortions that appear a bit over the top. Also the “new agey” aspect is disconcerting to some guys like me who prefer to keep any spiritual musings firmly inside. But this is just nit-picking. Yoga doesn’t require students to do anything that can injure or damage themselves, and there is nothing wrong with finding ways to relax, breath slowly, relieve some stress, and experience just a little personal peace. I hope my wife doesn’t read this because it sounds like I just talked myself into a yoga class. Oh well, Namaste.

by John Gee