There comes a time in every man’s life when he must confront his conscience. We, as men, walk through our journey of life, and in the corner of our minds we see haunting reflections of what should have been, much as one’s eyes catch glimpses of reflections walking past a shop window, ethereal ghosts a silent testament to wrong paths chosen along the way.
It is now, at a point that is near the half way point of my life, but which is not the half way point of my life, a life that has seen both sorrow and joy, defeat and triumph, and paucity of rum and a plethora thereof, that I can no longer run from the truth of my actions, actions which I told myself were justified, but that were in fact not.
I Photoshopped the above image of myself. I am not the paragon of yogic splendour that you see portrayed.
My body, which is a male body, and a large male body and not a small male body, small bodies weighing much less than large bodies as a general rule, has a shape. It is a shape which is not a typical shape, and it is a shape which does not lend itself to the practice of yoga let alone its perfection, nor does it lend itself to tying one’s shoes, nor any other activity in the realm of human affairs that has, as a fundamental attribute, the requirement to bend.
It is characterized by a large head, of a stature which does not just invite being characterized as large, but rather demands to be decreed as massive in proportion to the rest of me. At the other end are thunderous thighs that can barely hold the glorious bulk of me, beast that I am, aloft at the best of times. There is also, of course, the ponderous belly necessary to hold the great caloric reserves demanded by such a large head and struggling legs. All of which are complimented by stubby little arms that can barely reach one another, let alone any other part of me.
It is thus, having purged my soul of its uncleanliness, in much the same way as the Ancient Mariner rid himself of the albatross hung around his sun scorched neck, that I can now convey to any who stumble across these humble words the next chapter in the yogateria chronicles.
My first exposure to yoga, which nearly cost me my life, left me older, wiser, lighter by at least 50 lbs, and more flexible. Rumour has it that in Ottawa the next day, lithe 20-something’ish female business professionals were all discussing the great yoga scandal of 2014, being both scandalized AND mortified at the great transgression that had transpired. “OMG, he didn’t! He said ‘Butter chicken’ in response to namaste? That’s very bad. That’s terrible. He could be banned.”
The first yoga was candlelight hot yoga. It happened on a Sunday night. Like the fool that I am, I decided to do interval training on an elliptical machine the next day, the next day being the Monday, a day of penance for my great yogateria transgression. Penance for my penance, perhaps, as one who has uttered the blasphemous “butter chicken” cannot be penitent enough.
Thus cleansed, I could go to my second foray in the now semi-sacred yogateria on the Tuesday. I did go, but I did not go alone. Accompanying me was The Nameless One, so named as she may not be named. It again was hot yoga, but not of the candlelight variety, for such variety is to only be found during the sacred calm of the Sunday eve. This was to be of the fully lit variety, with all my fellow penitents in full view.
My suffering was of a similar nature. I need not recount the unnatural contortions to which my poor body, a body which is not small and does not bend of its own free will, was repeatedly subjected to. It goes without saying.
Despite all the suffering of the supplicant spandex-clad sinners who so densely populated the dungeon floor, suffering greater than any soul should have to bear throughout an eternity, it is not the pain and suffering of that evening which even now pervades my every waking thought.
It was when The Nameless One said, upon exiting Dante’s hot yogateria, “Did you see the one with the cute boy shorts?”
I sensed danger. Not the obvious danger of the majestic lion poised to pounce on its doomed prey, nor the less obvious danger of the frozen outstretched crocodile’s jaw about to snap shut on its hapless victim. It was a sinister danger, made even more sinister by the innocence with which it portrayed itself.
It was a trap.
For, as with the name of The Nameless One, the young lady of the conformal spandex boy shorts too had a name. She, clearly being of the line of the progeny of Helen of Troy, yet not being an ordinary descendent of said lineage, but rather a spandex clad descendent, and a scantily clad and flexible one at that, deserved a name. Her name was not a normal name, but a name of grace, of classical grace and not contemporary grace, a name that history will forever record. Her name was The Bottom that Launched a Thousand Ships.
A woman will test her man. She will test her man while seeming to not test her man. It will be a subtle test, such as innocently wondering if he had noticed The Bottom that Launched a Thousand Ships, who happened to be downward dogging directly in front of him in a brilliantly lit and sultry room for the excruciating duration of 60 minutes.
A younger man will not understand that he is being tested, and will stumble into the trap laid for his demise. Not so an older and wiser man. And so, being not young and therefore older and wiser, I did what I must do, for a man must do what he must do.
It was not a little white lie, nor was it even a little lie. Yet is was not an outrageous lie either, as older and therefore wiser men know that such lies are just as likely to spring the cunning trap as is the ignorance of youth. It was thus an in between lie, it being between the little lie and the outrageous lie in terms of the injury caused to that most noble lady, Truth.
Thus, in fear for my life far more than for my soul, I replied, “No, I was too busy focussing on my balance.”
It is thus only by the grace of God and my own quick wit that I survived my second foray into Dante’s hot yogateria. It would not be my last. For in my next decent into Dante’s yogateria, I encountered…
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.