I'm A Burly Man Who Just Tried Yoga For The First Time, And Holy Sh*t
For a workout technique based on finding your inner Zen, yoga absolutely f*cking destroyed me physically and a little mentally.
Over the past two-ish months I've committed myself to getting into better shape, partly because I recently watched that scene from “The Sopranos” where Gigi Cestone dies on the toilet and started to dread that fate.
Mostly, though, my drive came from just wanting to feel better about myself. I've broken a light sweat while putting on my socks in the morning eight-too-many times to not at least attempt to get myself into better shape.
So I started going to the gym, slowly at first and now around four-five times a week. If daddy wants dat FOYN AF boday 4 da ladayz, he BETTER be puttin' in straight up WERK at the muscle factory.
As you can tell, my lingo for the craft is on point.
Anyway, the small issue of this change is I have little variation in my workout. It's always 30 minutes of cardio followed by weight training. I've definitely dropped some pounds doing this, but I've been told I could be dropping more if I varied it up.
So I decided to take up yoga. Not that I knew anything about yoga or if it even fit my needs, it kinda just sounded like something that made sense. This is how I make most of my decisions, by the way, and is the only reason I own a Hulu Plus password.
It just sounded like something that made sense to own.
Anyway, thanks to Anna K. Gannon I was able to try my hand at yoga with five other burly man-friends of mine.
To say I was cocky was an understatement.
I mean, how bad could it be? "Yoga pants" has the word yoga in it, and they are the universal sign you've given up. Nobody has ever said “Time to complete this large and ambitious project I've been putting off!” and then put on yoga pants.
Boy, was I effing wrong.
I even made this cute lil' joke Vine on my way there:
I actually took a series of cute Vines leading up to yoga now that I think about it.
Spirits were wayyyyy too high and we were feeling wayyyy too manly for a group of people about to do something that would murder our muscles.
Let's get started.
We started by sitting and focusing on ourselves for about five minutes to find our centers. And as much as I did spend three of those minutes thinking about a pug in a hat I saw on Instagram that morning, I did get two quality minutes of centerin' time before we stopped.
We slowly moved organically into regular, legit yoga poses and, I'm going to be very honest, I was totally fine for like 15 minutes. After 15 minutes of moving through downward dogs and warrior poses and planks, I was feeling great. I actually felt a little too great. I was wondering why everyone swore by this seemingly easy workout. I was CRUSHING this and it was my first time.
I felt like Tiger Woods picking up a golf club for the first time or Guy Fieri rhyming the words "taste of the South" with "explosion in your mouth." Everything just fit. I was the yoga mat and the yoga mat was me.
Then at the 15-minute mark my body felt like Hiroshima, my muscles decided to say "f*ck you" to the concept of yoga and I nearly cried.
It hurt. It hurt badly. Yoga hurts sooo f*cking badly, guys. It hurt more than 98 percent of the things I've ever done in my life. I've been in car accidents and once had a 7-pound leg weight hit me square in my "Totino's Pizza Rolls."
Those both hurt less than yoga.
From what I experienced, yoga gets you by always having your muscles engaged. The movements aren't super difficult but having to stay with them for a literal hour straight is murder and the exact opposite of what I expected.
I assumed yoga was just a clinic on stretching and making your body move in weird ways, but it actually is more about strength training and endurance than anything else.
You aren't doing reps of weights, you're just letting your body work against itself, and that's somehow worse. Your body destroys itself and you're a helpless bystander watching this fight between your body and your body take place.
If chair pose was a torture method they used at Guantanamo, I would be up in arms about cruel and unusual punishment.
Anna, who is fantastic by the way and kind of looks like Dakota Johnson before she dyed her hair black, is a health enigma onto herself.
She told us before the class she had a baby like six weeks ago and was already back to leading classes. How insane is that?
I couldn't do three-quarters of the things she was doing and I've never grown a child in my womb. I don't even have a womb, but I bet if I did Anna's would still be more flexible.
At a certain point, I'm pretty sure Anna was just f*cking with us. She was telling us to do push-up planks low to the ground and then shove ourselves up and then repeat, which is just a f*cking pushup as far as I'm concerned. A pushup by any other name is still a pushup, ANNA. If I call getting shot in the arm with a crossbow "going to a free candy store with your best friend," it's still a crossbow at the end of the day, ANNA.
Keep in mind, this happened toward the end of this body marathon, which is beyond unfair.
YOU try doing 20-ish pushups after 45 minutes of having your body zapped of all energy. It was like a Dementor attacked me and then made me do burpees.
That wasn't even the worst thing we had to do. I'm still not 100 percent sure if the two worst things we did are even physically possible.
One was called crow pose. Why is it called that? Because I'm convinced the only way to have your weight light enough to defy gravity for this pose is to have your bones be hollow like a bird's.
The other has no name and makes no sense. You basically lie down sideways and attempt to have your head and toes meet.
Anna was able to do this pose effortlessly. I was watching her do it and I still have no idea how she had that much balance or strength. What was she even balancing on? The tip of her hip bone?
This is what the second one looked like when we tried it.
Eventually, Anna took mercy on us and we ended the hard part. She made us lie down flat, rub aromatic oils on our heads and get hella zen.
I did feel some spiritual one-with-myself-ness in this moment. My body had pushed itself for an hour and 15 minutes harder than it had ever pushed itself and lying down to do nothing was a moment of self-reflection and stillness I could never achieve without everything that came before it. It was relaxing and the thing that makes yoga worth it from my perspective.
How did the rest of my crew feel, though?
Ben, who is a fitness GOD as it is, revealed to us he went to the gym before this for reasons I will never understand.
Scott was feeling the pain pretty bad.
Mehdi is a wizard with word descriptions.
Tzvi liked it.
I was dead after I left the studio. My legs just didn't work and my bag, which had a t-shirt, jeans, cell phone charger and my wallet in it, somehow felt like it weighed as much as a teenage beluga whale.
Remember that scene in "Unbroken" where the main guy had to hold a wood panel above his head in the mud at the POW camp or the Japanese soldier would shoot him? I took a shower at Planet Fitness before heading back into work and the act of washing my hair felt identical to that.
I got back to the office and did some of my own yoga.
Here is my official verdict on yoga:
It's pretty awesome and the most intense workout I've ever gotten. I was DEAD afterward and double dead two days later, which was a good thing as it meant I did it right but a bad thing as it meant my butt felt like a slab of meat that Rocky Balboa just worked out on.
I'm honestly probably going to do it again at some point and can see it being thrown into my work-out schedule if the cost is cheap and I can find classes filled with people who are just as clueless as I am. I have no interest in doing any of those specialty hot yoga classes or ones that take place to the soundtrack of "Hamilton" or whatever.
I just want your standard yoga. The kind Gordon Gekko or Don Draper would do if they were into yoga.
POST NOTE: A few days later I took part in a pie eating contest, so I assume whatever good was done at yoga was immediately wiped out.