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Yoga and I: The Dysfunctional Couple of the Decade

I’m happy to announce that yoga and I are back together again after a long break. He’s so much better looking than I, and there’s no explanation as to why he continues to take me back. It must be my nice personality.

My relationship with yoga is like one of those on-again off-again doomed relationships. We both know he’s too good for me, but hot damn if we can’t help ourselves from meeting for a casual drink once every 6 months.  I sit at the bar and cry in my chardonnay about how tired I am all the time and how I can’t seem to keep any kind of focus (“Oh, look! A butterfly! In a bar!”), and if we could get back together, it would help me in so many ways. And he nods sympathetically, even though I’m talking about myself again, and then he reminds me that I was the one who couldn’t commit to the relationship and it was I who wouldn’t take suggestions on how to better myself. To prove his point he says, “Now hold that plank for five” and I start to weep.  “Okay, for two, then,” he says, and now I’m just moaning. And then I get off my barstool and say, “This was a mistake.” And he goes, “I’ll always be here for you, though, if you ever need me.” And I’m all, “But you’re so hard.” And he goes, “That’s what she said.” And then we laugh and I go home and eat three-quarters of a box of Cheez-Its and a half pound of Russian chocolates and never exercise again.

This is how I can justify not sticking with yoga. Were you picturing Idris Elba at the bar with me? If so, you were correct. I’ve figured out that by putting his face and dreamy accent on anything, I can pat myself on the back for not succumbing. You can be fat and unbendy with bad balance and focus that is just the worst, and still get points for being a good person. And those Russian chocolates don’t stay fresh forever.

Idris – I mean – yoga and I had been on a long break when I read an article on the ways that it can help writers. Perfect timing, since I was thinking I needed to get back to yoga and also was trying to get more writing done. So when I stumbled on The Remarkable Ways Yoga Supports a Writer’s Success it was kismet. The article listed seven different ways I could kill two birds with one carefully aimed stone, despite having the upper arm strength and attention span of a toddler.

But by the time I got halfway through the list, I was feeling even worse about myself. I hadn’t lifted a single chakra yet and I already felt defeated. The list had failure written all over it, with my initials next to each of the seven ways.

Take numbers one through three, for instance. “It Eases Sore Muscles,” “It’s One of the Most Effective Solutions for Back Pain” and “It Helps Relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  At first I didn’t get it, and then I realized that real writers spend so much time hunched over their keyboards, they are literally abusing their bodies with outpouring creativity. And that’s a lot of writing. I take it they’re not stopping every twenty words to make another pot of coffee and while in the kitchen getting distracted by the recipe book, which is a mess and needs a total makeover. Right this minute.

Other writers may need yoga what with all the furious non-stop writing they’re doing, but I’m … I’m good. I don’t have sore writing muscles, I don’t have back pain from hunching over a laptop for long stretches of time, and I would no sooner have carpal tunnel from too much writing than from free-climbing an Alp . My problem isn’t that I need yoga to solve my writing problems. My problem is that I don’t write enough to have writing problems.

So I looked to numbers four through seven, the emotional benefits of yoga, to get me into a writing habit that would require me to need the first three benefits.

“It Gives You Energy,” “It Reduces Stress, Anxiety and Depression,” “It Sparks Creativity and May Destroy Writer’s Block,” and “It Teaches You the Value of Practice.” This all sounds terrific, but the yoga classes I’ve attended in the past are either a strenuous walk away – uphill both ways and that is a thing, by the way. It’s a thing – or a trip on the Muni. It takes 45 minutes of yoga to undo the stress, despair and inhaled pot smoke you pick up on an SF Muni bus, leaving nothing to help you with that secondary plot you’re working on.

Even if you used your encounters with the people on the bus as character inspirations, they’re not believable. You’ll find yourself in the YA Dystopian clearance rack before you know it.

By the end of the article, I could relate so little, I began to wonder if I was worthy of the job title writer at all. “I’m now more focused between 5:15 and 6:00 a.m.,” one writer testified. What the eff? I’m not even in the same species of these people, let alone worthy of sharing an agent.

In the end, when I did finally reunite with yoga, it was the easy way out. I became involved with a cheap, illicit yoga on the side. That’s right. I’m doing an online yoga class on the rug in my closet. Don’t tell Idris. But the Internet yoga is letting me take it slow. He doesn’t say a word when I eat Russian chocolates while in child’s pose.

Diane Laney Fitzpatrick

Diane is a writer, blogger, humorist and author of the books "Great-Grandma Is on Twitter and Other Signs the Rapture Is Near" and "Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves." She lives in San Francisco.