I’ve always been a stress-case. I stress about almost everything. I even stress about things I can’t control. I have no explanation why I’m like this other than it’s the way I’m built. Some have said that I need to get in touch with my inner-voice. What the fuck is an inner-voice anyway? I thought only schizophrenics and the satanically possessed have inner-voices. But, apparently, some blessed people, who must have a different nervous system than mine, have an inner-voice that they occasionally chat with from time to time, making them feel relaxed and healthy. I guess I don’t have an inner voice – maybe I need an inner-vention?
Some people that know me have say that I would benefit from meditation. Is it a coincidence that only one letter separates meditation from medication? (I find that vodka and prescription Xanax relieves stress reasonably well.) I’ve tried to meditate, but it was a disaster. It would be easier for me to negotiate peace in the Mideast. Meditation is like trying not to think of the elephant with polka dots. I just can’t do it. Sorry, Maharishi.
Yoga has often been suggested to me as a spiritual and athletic antidote to the stresses of the modern world. The first time I ever tried yoga was on Kenny Vs. Spenny, and it was hot yoga. Hot yoga, or Bikram Yoga is essentially yoga in a sauna. Now yoga in an air conditioned room is a bitch…in a sauna, it’s punishment. It’s hard to describe Bikram Yoga to the uninitiated. Imagine being in a 40 degrees Celsius (105 Fahrenheit) room, while a New Age-sounding instructor takes you through postures that you would only do in real life if you were in Cirque De Soleil. On top of that, the class runs an interminable hour and a half, after which you feel about as close to death as anything you can do on this planet that’s supposed to be good for you. My girlfriend, after much nagging, convinced me to buy 20 Bikram classes. I’m a disciplined person and was determined to work at yoga until I got the desired results; some sort of spiritual awakening and an overdue introduction to my inner-voice.
The first time I went I was surprised at one of the studio rules: Once class has started, you are not allowed to leave the studio. Period. The instructor said we may, if we’re having trouble, sit or lie down, but you absolutely can’t leave. I flashed on Jim Jones and wondered if we weren’t allowed out, whether the paramedics would be allowed in. I’m fairly certain the no-leaving rule compromised my civil rights, but it was supposed to be good for me.
The first five minutes of the class were decent. The next eight-five minutes, not so much. Forget GITMO, Bikram Yoga is serious torture. I think I’d rather be water-boarded. About a half hour into the class the thought occurred to me that a canister of Zyclon B could have been lobbed in and I might not have complained. You know those yogis that set themselves on fire…after a few minutes of Bikram Yoga, I kind of got those guys. During a particularly sadistic posture that would have made Dick Cheney smirk, my inner-voice finally introduced itself to me. Now I like to think myself a fairly nice guy. I screw up a lot, but I at least try to do the right thing most of the time. That’s why I was so surprised when my inner-voice tuned out to be such an asshole.
Here are some excerpts from a one-way conversation between my inner-voice and my Bikram Yoga instructor.
Yoga Instructor: Bring awareness to resistance.
Inner-voice: I’m painfully aware that my body is resisting the pretzel you’re trying to bend me into.
Yoga Instructor: What we do with resistance is a great area for learning.
Inner-voice: I’d prefer math right now… and I fucking hate math.
Yoga Instructor: How we deal with the resistance in our hamstrings, chest and breath can help us better understand how we deal with resistance in the world off of our mats.
Inner-voice: Are you saying that I’m going to be happy about the plugged toilet I have to deal with when I get home?
Yoga Instructor: Close your eyes and bring awareness to your breath.
Inner-voice: I’m aware that I’m breathing. I’m also aware of how much I hate that I’m paying for this. .
Yoga Instructor: Bring your hands together at your heart and bow your head. This honors the inherent wisdom that sits at the heart.
Inner-voice: Does hoping that the dude in front of me doesn’t fart in my face count as inherent wisdom?
Yoga Instructor: In yogic philosophy the aspect of ourselves, is referred to as the Otma, the highest self.
Inner-voice: I Otma call my attorney. .
Yoga Instructor: Listen to the highest self’s intention for your time on the mat today.
Inner-voice: Okay. I’m listening. My highest intention is telling me to strangle the instructor and never come back.
Yoga Instructor: It’s kind of a cool thing to learn how to take care of yourself in this practice of yoga.
Inner-voice: Kind of cool? It’s fucking 105 degrees in here, asshole.
Believe me, I mean no disrespect to the yoga people. I think they’re probably very nice and recycle. I honestly wish Bikram Yoga worked for me…I probably need it more than most. But I have thought of continuing the practice of Yoga, moving to Vegas and have my inner-voice become the new Don Rickles. Namaste, you hockey puck.