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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Open My Third Eye

(Originally published 6/18/10)

Despite hearing nothing but good things about it, I have always avoided yoga because I assumed it was a purely feminine activity. “Yoga is not emasculating at all,” one female friend told me, before adding, “Oprah highly recommends it!” Despite this endorsement I was still skeptical of the whole thing. I mean, any exercise that is supplemented by scented candles couldn’t be very manly. But noticing that bending over to tie my shoe was slowly becoming an arduous task, I decided to give this trendy exercise routine a try.

I grew very concerned when I showed up to the yoga studio and discovered that everyone in today’s class received a complimentary coupon for Nuva Ring birth control. It also didn’t help that I was the only male in the entire class, at least until a guy named Timothy arrived and said “Good A.M gals!” before unrolling his hot pink yoga mat. Still, I think the women in my class were impressed with my courage. It takes some balls to throw on spandex and contort your body into shapes I would never want my parents to see me in.

The routine started off super easy. We just sat there with our eyes closed in a crossed-legged pose, which is about the most natural position in the world for a guy raised by Nintendo. But then it started to get weird. I was instructed to open my Third Eye, which seemed like an action that would require an advanced understanding of Hindu philosophy, or at least a copious amount of drugs. We then progressed into some supposed “beginner” postures, including the Warrior II, the Plough, the Downward Facing Dog, and several other positions that probably were better suited for a pornographic movie than an exercise room.

I was a little disappointed that I, a former college athlete, had serious difficulty holding poses that the 6-months pregnant woman in my class did with ease. There were some postures that I was able to pull off, specifically the ones that involved drinking from my water bottle, but overall it was a struggle that involved a lot of grunting, a lot of humbling. Like sometimes I would get physically stuck in a posture that almost required the Jaws of Life to release me. Noticing my struggles, our instructor offered a friendly suggestion to the group, “If you’re having trouble with any of these positions, feel free to skip them and go into the ‘Delicate Baby Fetal’ position.” That made me feel better about myself.

When I finally did pull off The Standing Tree pose, our instructor kindly shouted, “Way to go, Eric!”, in a tone of voice like I was some toddler who just pooped in the big-boy toilet for the first time. It was only a minor triumph, but enough to get me through the following three days, in which I was too sore to bend down to tie my shoe.

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