Cutting toenails, yoga-style
Whenever my wife leaves for her weekly yoga session and booze-up I am left pondering the mysteries of this Eastern art (the yoga, not the drinking). It certainly does her good; she always comes back slightly flushed and a little dishevelled, and her yoga teacher seems very pleased as he drops her off in his Porsche, so I know she's putting her back into it.
This evening's session is a little longer than usual so I have had the opportunity to do a little research. Yoga, it turns out, has a long and colourful history. We can scarcely do it justice here. In short, it was invented in the 13th century by a mysterious ancient person from India. Like Father Christmas, he had a long white beard and kindly eyes, but unlike Santa, he was double-jointed, thin, and wore only a very ill-fitting pair of swimming trunks. On his head. During his long and illustrious life, he derived enormous health benefits from bending further than a man has any reasonable right to expect, both forwards and backwards, sometimes even left and right, and shortly before he died he perfected the position snimanataputra upsabootsy ('good heavens I can see your house from here') which today is sadly lost.
Yoga travelled slowly westward to gradually smile upon the ignorant fat unbendy people from Europe. As it travelled it developed and changed, so that many branches of yoga appeared. There are popular derivatives today to suit every taste, such as Pilates (yoga for pilots) and Iyengar (an involuntary exclamation of dismay when you see the back of your knees for the first time). Lesser known types include Waystaponelee (yoga for the upper body) and Pasmeethachipps (yoga for the larger person, involving eating rather than bending). And it's not just an imaginative way to slip a disc; there is a whole set of ideologies which would shame a fully-qualified Jedi. At £4 a week, that's what I call value for money.
Although this is strictly my wife's territory, I have to admit to having dabbled myself. My few lessons opened up new sensations for me; an overwhelming feeling of humility as a whole roomful of women, touching their toes with their elbows, snigger discreetly while I try to touch my toes with, well, anything, actually; the discipline of not breaking wind on the way down; how it feels when you rip an entire toenail off on the carpet. You get the picture.
Despite its origins yoga does seem to be an activity designed with women in mind. I acknowledge that I may be just doing it wrong, but some of the positions can be really quite uncomfortable, leaving one's male accoutrements either crushed or distressingly stretched. On balance I'll probably stick to golf. At least there's a sport that when you lose a ball, it's an annoyance, not a disaster.