Yoga – The Art of Self-Torture

Yoga.  It sounds like a friendly word.  Sounds a little like yogurt.  Smooth and creamy.  Maybe a little like a low mobility shriveled old alien spouting words of wisdom in Star Wars.  Or Maybe it reminds you a little of Yogi Bear:  that lovable cartoon animal that really just wanted picnic baskets.  He didn’t want to ravage people, he was just hungry for a sandwich.  So what harm could come from doing yoga?  Plenty.  It’s a horrible practice that should have been outlawed by the Geneva Convention.  The non-threatening name only exacerbates the horror and trauma it causes.  I shall now attempt to explain how this system of abuse works.

It begins by a suggestion from your wife that yoga will be beneficial to you and that it’s something you can do together.  While I don’t blame my wife for the suffering endured, she is responsible for tending to my injuries afterwards.  Anyway, what husband wouldn’t agree with that suggestion – so off to yoga I go.  Keep in mind this suggestion has been made for a couple years before I  finally relented. This is a great way to spend a Saturday morning if you aren’t a fan of sleeping or taking it easy on the weekend.  I am not sure what every yoga studio looks like but the ones I have seen can be best described as follows.  A big open space and as you walk in you feel comforted by its openness.  It’s similar to one of those big empty warehouses the mob might ask you a few questions in with just a chair sitting at the center.  Except there are no chairs.  Off to the side the room is stocked with many implements of your future torture.  Unlike in typical torture situations where the torturer has to at least expend some effort to get the equipment, you have to get it yourself.  There is the razor thin mat, which gives you little protection from the floor, but prevents your feet and hands from sliding on the floor into a comfortable position which might save you from the pain you will have to experience. There are straps which you use to bind yourself with, there are blocks and pillows that you use to prop yourself up with (more will be explained later about how these will be used to weaken you psychologically).

The class is largely full of women.  If you are a single man interested in women, you might think this is the place for you, but you’d be mistaken.  The only way you can impress a woman here is through your ability to take pain.  Some women might be impressed by that, but probably only the kind that want a man they can inflict pain on.  Others might feel sorry for you and take pity.  I submit that nothing helpful in that room, that can be used for the basis of building a meaningful romantic relationship.  My suggestion is that you hone other skills and impress women elsewhere.  And as I’ll soon explain, it’s unclear how many people here aren’t part of the grift that is yoga.

Your instructor is the true deceiver here and you will look at her and really think everything will be alright.  She is friendly and welcoming.  She doesn’t look overly imposing although a careful glance will see strong muscles safely tucked into her yoga pants.  Of course, she need not be too formidable in appearance as the method of torture comes from what she tells you to do to yourself, not what she does to you directly.  This is the brilliance of it all.

As the session begins the trap is sprung.  Why?  Because this is the beginning of the psychological manipulation to follow.  You start by sitting and breathing.  Her voice is calming as she tries to relax you so you become more pliable later.  Often there is some music in the background played at the exact right volume to make you more compliant and ensure complete submission to her orders.  So there I am sitting and breathing.  Pretty easy stuff.  I’m getting relaxed.  I look around the room…I feel a sense of unity as we are all sitting and breathing and I am on par with the rest of the class at this activity so I’m feeling good about myself.  But this peaceful feeling doesn’t last.  It’s not long before you have to start doing poses.  This by the way is also the beginning of many Hindi words that I’m pretty sure mean rather insidious things, but sound spiritual.

Related image
Yoga participants in worship of the instructor

I got to do a cow.  That was easy.  I pretended like I had a really heavy udder.  Then there was the cat.  That was also not bad, except cats are ready to pounce and flee at a moment’s notice.  This was only making me more stationary.  Then there was the cobra.  All I know is that if a mongoose found me it would be over quick.  Then I am doing something called “a child”, which is not like my child at all who is energetic and obstinate.  In this position you are more like a worshipper praising the teacher for the pleasure of being tortured.  Then I’m told to take the strap and put it around my foot to hold my leg straight up in the air.  I quickly notice how my leg doesn’t go straight up in the air.  It is roughly at a 20 degree angle above the floor in order to remain straight.  Everybody else in the room is like a fucking submarine and I begin to feel shame.  I begin to wonder, is yoga really just part of the feminist agenda so we know what it feels like to constantly feel shame over our own bodies in a patriarchal system?  As a feminist I quickly agree that yoga is for the betterment of society and continue.  My hamstring already feels angry as the teacher calmly has me moving my leg to the left and right.  Her language becomes a maze of confusion.  “Turn to the right, but open your shoulders.  Pin your hips to the floor as if you are breathing through your thigh.”  I quickly notice that my thigh is completely without the requisite respiratory system and begin to worry.  That worry is quickly forgotten as I am told to lose the strap and do a cobra again.  Now it’s downward facing dog.  You will, in this moment, realize that no dog would ever pose like this.  My arms quiver under the weight of my body.  “No”, she says, “the weight is supposed to mostly on your legs.”  I quickly try to work out how this is humanly possible because hard as I try I can only make my hamstrings scream.  I collapse on to my knees and look around as everyone looks like statues and my complete incompetence becomes glaring.  I’m sweating as I glance up at the clock.  Only 15 minutes have passed.  Also why does my sweat smell worse in this environment?

Typical yoga “plant” used to grift people into thinking that yoga can be accomplished by anybody, but only enhances your shame.

As I alluded to earlier the extreme shame you experience is what makes you go along with the instructor.  Every move you try to follow her on reminds you that you aren’t worthy.  All the while she will say things like, “Lift your arm up straight so that it brushes your ear.  Now drop your shoulder.”  What?  How do I drop my shoulder while lifting up my arm? And on and on it goes, “Open your shoulders, stretch your spine, drop your tailbone, turn your pinkies inward to work your triceps, reach out with your ring finger to feel it in your armpit, bend down to the left while lowering your right hip.”  Basically the rule of thumb is that whatever direction they want you to move, you are supposed to, somehow, at the same time also move in the other direction.  And I begin to realize that yoga is simply the art of tearing your own body apart as slowly and painfully as possible.

I am on the ground, left leg over right and told “turn to the left, but not to move my neck, and to keep my buttocks on the ground, and to reach behind me, turn my hand, open my shoulders, but now look back in the other direction, without using my neck, only my shoulders, also open up the sides of your body, push your ribs against your tailbone.”  Somehow no time has passed since my last excruciating look at the clock. As I look around, illegally, using my neck, I am reminded once again that I am surrounded by flexible supple women who look like dancers and begin to realize that they are all part of the plan to torture you. The teacher beforehand selected them to make you look as pathetic as possible.  And as you look over at the teacher, you can’t even feel aggression, which would be the normal way to get out of this situation, but shame weakens you. You are ready to tell her where the bomb is located, what the encryption code is, turn over your family to the authorities, but your tormentor doesn’t want any information and only wants you to experience pain. A 5’1″ sadist who somehow manages to say “namaste” with a smile on her face from the well of darkness that must be her soul.  You want to run out of the room, but this would only add to the humiliation.  Peppered throughout her tormenting instruction is “Don’t do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.”  Even though, minus the sitting and breathing, everything she’s asked you to do since makes you uncomfortable.  If my comfort was her concern she would ask me to leave.

The final mockery comes with the warrior poses.  As a man my instinct is to think that this is finally something I can sink my teeth in, but again she exposes the patriarchy for what it is.  I look around and I see women who could very well be Amazonian soldiers ready to strike me with a deadly blow.  I on the other hand feel like a Chihuahua who has less than confidently stood in front of Doberman Pincher, only to realize that not only do I have a sprained ankle, but I’ve also got spinach between my teeth when I try to growl.  I listen to Yanni playing now.  I hate Yanni.  That bastard plays a note for 30 seconds while sipping a coffee, making millions and leads a pleasurable life, while his new age feeble “compositions” are now a soundtrack for my pain.

The best part of it all is that this was called “gentle yoga”.  Imagine lying on the ground while a crane slowly in small increments lowers a 1 ton weight on to you.  At first you are like it’s just touching me, now it’s a bit of a massage, and then “Oh my bones are being crushed and I will soon be flat as a pancake”.  This is really the only way I can make sense of the use of the word “gentle”.  Gentle and continuous pressure will still ruin your day.

Man being tortured by gentle turns on the rack. AKA early yogic practices.

After a length of time which can only be measured on the geologic time scale, the barefoot punisher allows you to relax and asks for you to reflect on what you did today.  Afraid to relive the trauma I decide to think of the bagels I have at home and which flavor cream cheese I want.  I do some more very competent breathing. She wishes us all happiness, and that we cause no harm, remorseless for the harm she caused me.  I get up and put my torture implements away obediently, wipe down my mat, smelling the residue of my fear.  As I leave, hips wobbling, the teacher smiles at me and I say “See you next week!”

35 thoughts on “Yoga – The Art of Self-Torture

  1. Hilarious, Swarn! Loved it, and quite accurate. I’ve done yoga on and off for a few short spells. Despite the pain I found it does get easier, and there was often a sense of well-being at the end. Your body kind of feels like a sweaty dish towel, but then there is this cool breeze blowing through your newfound emptiness. A non-local sense of relaxation. No? Just bagels? Not that bagels with cream cheese and samadhi don’t go hand-in-hand… 🙂


    Liked by 3 people

    1. Lol…. I’m going to stick with it a while because I do think it will get better… But a rough start to be sure! Thanks for reading and your kind words! I’m about half way through the story you aren’t and will have a thorough review for you when I’m done. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Awesome. I hope it’s a little easier on you than the yoga.

        And I wanted to ask you about Houston. It’s been heart-wrenching to watch at times, and hard not to beat the global warming drum. Or maybe that’s entirely appropriate, but what is your take on this type of thing. Is this something you study in your field? With your greater knowledge of this arena, does it seem like an escalation or part of a normal storm cycle?

        I’m nervous for the review, but do hope you enjoy… 🙂


        Liked by 3 people

        1. Definitely less painful than yoga. It was what I started reading before yoga, so it was the last good memory I had. 🙂

          It’s difficult to make out any one extreme weather event as being a marker of a changing climate. One of the things that is expected to get worse with an overall warming of the planet is more frequent and more extreme precipitation events. This is because warmer air holds more moisture. We have certainly seen more flooding events and more high intensity rain events over the last 4 or 5 years, so in totality I think this is more of an indication of global warming. What makes it also makes it hard for people to understand is that many of these events would have happened anyway, but would not be as severe. Similarly with drought also.

          Flooding is particular difficult to always even pin on weather, because modifications that we make to land surfaces, building artificial dams and levees…often exacerbate flooding conditions when they do happen, even if the flooding happens rarely. Katrina is a good example of this.

          In terms of hurricane intensity this is the 14th strongest hurricane in recorded history, so not breaking records there. And hurricanes increasing in intensity isn’t one of the things strongly predicted by climate change models so that’s not surprising.
          But intensity is mostly related to central pressure and windspeed. That’s typically not the part that causes the most damage. It’s usually the rainfall after landfall. That is the case here.

          With the Gulf of Mexico temperatures being anomalously warm, and the fact that we have an amount of rain unseen in this region falling, there is a strong indication that global warming as enhanced this event significantly.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Not to draw attention away from your fabulously funny post, but since the subject has been brought up, I just read this from Collin Myers out of Austin regarding Harvey:

            As a meteorologist,
            I have never seen this kind of wording from the Weather Service before. Ever.

            “…all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced.”

            Right now the water is 17 feet high on the Sam Houston Tollway in Houston. At 1:00 pm CDT, the model guidance showed Harvey moving back into the Gulf, and then a 2nd landfall between Houston & Port Arthur. 😦

            Liked by 2 people

          2. As a resident of Texas (8 generations) and many family members in the Houston, SE Texas areas, out also through Santa Fe, Alvin, Clear Lake, League City, etc, and my son in Conroe, TX… I can absolutely confirm everything Swarn has stated here. I’ve noticed since AT LEAST 2014 that we have had back to back to back to back MILD (near non-existent) winters, but consistently wetter and wetter (including more flash flooding) seasonal rains/storms! These last 3-4 years the weather has been significantly unseasonable and unpredictable — lots of records broken and reset. :/

            Liked by 1 person

  2. That confirms my suspicions about yoga. Yanni is the ultimate tip-off. No one that cares about your wellbeing would ever force you to listen to Yanni. I suggest you blog about each of your visits. It can serve as a dead man’s switch. That way if you miss a blog post, we’ll know to send someone to collect the body.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha…Yanni IS a pretty good indicator that this isn’t an activity anybody should be doing! I am not sure if I can write a post every time. Reliving the memories here was hard enough. I’m worried I’ll eventually withdraw, unable to even acknowledge my suffering so that I can get through the day and be functional. lol

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As an official manly man with a degree in manly man medicine I recommend plenty of beer and MMA/football on the tv. Stat!

    I can appreciate a guy sharing experiences with the wife, no healthy relationship would survive otherwise, but in all honesty thank you for the heads up Swarn. If the wife takes up yoga I know now how badly I need to be somewhere else!

    Great story 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. To be fair I did also choose to go of my own volition for several reasons. One is that many people said it would be great for improving posture and back strength. That was something I really needed. There are probably other ways to do this as well, but there is a better reason for supporting my wife right now than just because she wanted me to go with her. She really likes it, and it is very good for her health right now, so if I go, I know she will go more often as well. But yes, if your wife takes up yoga…proceed with caution! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Fun. I do like gentle yoga, but we both simply do our own version of it at home every single day, often several times a day if we are working our bodies hard. It’s easy to be faithful to stretching if you’re used to physical activity anyhow. And it’s crucial in preventing injuries. We just do our own thing individually, each to her/his own.

    The thing I do NOT like about yoga classes is the rigid and/or competitive way Americans approach it. If the idea is to teach one to settle more firmly in the body, well then, realize we are each unique and have unique relationships TO those bodies. This is difficult to do when there is a class agenda. What Chris and I did for awhile was to take a private class together.

    Anyhow, Swarn – I am sure you will find your own way with ‘the system.’ And supporting your partner is commendable 😉 Cheers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha…I agree. I am sure I would do better with a teacher one on one that was looking to give me a routine that suited my body. I do want to push myself too, but yes in a class format it’s sort of hard not to do a one size fits all. This was actually my 3rd session, the regular teacher wasn’t there and the regular teacher is a doctor by training and seemed more aware of the differences among people and made more of an effort to help me. I mean maybe they were just trying to good cop bad cop me to make me more compliant. It could be all part of the scam. lol

      Liked by 3 people

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