Yes, the Professor of the Blues does Yoga.
Seven years ago, I started playing basketball in a corporate league in New York City. I played the entire game my first time out. The next morning I could barely move, and I experienced the worst pain I’ve ever endured.
I thought that it was just aches and pains, about what you could expect for a man in his late 40s who had taken up basketball after a 20 year hiatus. But the pain endured and would not stop. When I could no longer bear the pain, I visited the doctor.
“You’ve got arthritis,” he said. “You’ve got a spike right in the middle of your back that I can actually feel.”
The doctor prescribed Vioxx. Myrna, who was a sage in all things, suggested that Yoga might be the answer. So, we began to attend Yoga classes at The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers. Relief from the pain was immediate.
I take aspirin every day, but that really only alleviates the pain. Yoga makes the pain disappear. I practice regularly, a 30 minute set first thing every morning, and a 60 minute set once or twice a week. I’ve taught my routine to the Karaoke Queen, and we practice together as often as possible.
My lifestyle aggravates my arthritis in every way imaginable. I commute 40 minutes by car twice a day. I sit in a locked up position at a desk to do my multimedia work. And, when I play guitar, I sling a heavy instrument over my shoulder and maintain position for hours. I’m not going to give up any of these things, so Yoga is a survival issue.
The boys at the YMCA in Hackensack give me endless grief over my Yoga routine. The Queen and I do a 30 minute set before I jump on the exercise bike, or head for the basketball court. But, I don’t dare to engage in any form of serious exercise without first doing a Yoga warm-up. I don’t want to experience pain for weeks.
I’m not sure how Yoga was defined as a sissified form of exercise. (That’s what the boys rib me about.) Practiced rigorously, Yoga is one hell of a work out. Yoga uses one’s body as a counterweight, so it combines aspects of calisthenics, weight lifting and cardio. Yoga, if practiced daily, also works as a appetite suppressant.
So, there you have it. I can’t live a pain free existence without Yoga. If I practice my Yoga religiously, I don’t even know I have arthritis.
And, yes, Yoga does offer spiritual benefits as well. It clears the mind and spirit. Here’s the way I think of it. Yoga softens the body and mind. A flexible mind and body is better prepared to adapt to the struggle that is life.