January 10, 2010


A while back a friend who knows I practice yoga bought me a gag book entitled “Downward-Facing Frog” illustrated and written by Joan C. Gratz. It’s one of those novelty books that poke good natured fun at the practice with wisdom like:

       “Do not allow your skunk to do the Wind-Release Pose in Yoga Class.”


       “Your vulture will pretend to love yoga, but he is only interested in the Corpse Pose.”

Such foolishness lies at the heart of a discipline which strives not only to balance our lives but help us experience joy. And frankly, I’ve never met a yoga teacher who wore a frown.   

The Dali Lama, I’m told has a sense of humor. I’ve seen pictures of him sitting in Lotus pose, the jewel in the crown of yoga postures. I wonder how the attitudes of our Congressional men and women would alter if we took away their expensive leather chairs and exchanged them for yoga cushions. ..or whoopi cushions, whichever is most appropriate.

What Congressional men and women would learn is that the practice isn’t meant to be competitive. The person who strikes a perfect Lotus pose is no better than the one whose hips are so stiff his knees touch his ears when he sits cross-legged.  Learning to be non-judgmental about the poses leads to the hope the same tolerance will flow into other aspects of our thinking.

Recently, I read an article by a woman who described her experience with yoga at a spa in Tuscany (“Vogue,” Jan. 2011.pg. 127). The yoga master taught her how to breath properly, through the nose, not through the mouth. She honed the technique and felt better for it.

Unfortunately, her article concludes with a judgment: “When I see runners go down the street, I look at them pityingly.  Mouth-breathers.”

She probably needs to take another yoga class, many more, and should drop “Proud Warrior” pose.