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Macho vs Nerd: Men in Yoga

During yesterday's yoga class Al had us pair up a few times with others for assists on poses. One time I worked with Joni and a new girl, assisting each other doing backbends. One person did the Urdhva Dhanurasana, or upward facing bow, while the two assistants provided traction between the shoulders and hips, and helped the heart come forward by pressing between the shoulderblades. It felt really good and we all enjoyed it.


For the next pair exercise it was groups of two, and one person was supposed to anchor the other person's hips down while they backbended to the wall, work the heart toward the wall, and walk the hands down to upward bow if desired. My partner was the guy on my other side, who is brand new to this class. His name is Jerry, and he looked to be mid 50's. He has a competitive style in class, OM'ed longer than anyone else and was always checking me and the others around him to be sure that he was doing it better than us. He exuded testosterone. He was holding my hips such that I could not move, and could not get to the wall. It was frustrating. I kept explaining to him that he needed to let me move. But he held me strongly at the waist and prevented me from doing what I needed to do. I tried and tried to work with him, but in the end had to "call a stop to this exercise". I was on the verge of hurting myself, and really didn't want to. I did the exercise happily without a spotter. I don't need help doing that one; I practice it at home.

There was one more pair exercise which was one of my favorites, when someone pushes your hips back while you are in downward facing dog. It feels great, releasing the lower back and stretching the achilles tendons. I told the guy, "I think we can do this one". At least I wasn't worried about him causing me injury. He wanted me to go first. But he didn't know what to do, He held my waist tentatively instead of anchoring firmly on the hipbones. He pushed in every direction except lengthwise down my spine as Al had instructed. I said "let me show you" and did it on him first. He was tight and I don't think he felt the opening that this assist can bring. He did better on me the second time, but was still unable to comprehend what he was supposed to do. And I had thought the instructions and demo were quite clear.

All I could think was that this man would be a totally lousy lover, unable to hear, unable to do what was asked, and unable to understand simple concepts. Poor guy. My guess is that he's addled by hormones.

After class I went out to breakfast with Bob and Dan again. I told Bob I owed him a breakfast, even though Dan had bought it last time. I was eager to chat with him some more. I was disappointed when Dan came along. I almost bowed out. But I was civil to Dan, and he turned out to be better conversation anyway.

It was an interesting breakfast. Dan's workplace, The Guidance Center, did some research on a particular antipsychotic drug. Dan started telling me all the specifics of it. He was particularly proud of the large sample size (an n of 4200 or something like that from three different treatment facilities). They wanted to find out how well this antipsychotic works, and collected a great range of data on everything they could find out about these patients. Dan is a statistician and is completely consumed by the project of crunching all those numbers. Obsessed. He found that the drug reduces the patient's hospitals days by 10. The drug costs $500/week. Comparing those two, he found that the drug costs about the same as the hospital time. I joked "it's a wash" but he didn't think it was funny.

But just as interesting as Dan's discoveries was Bob's behavior. Bob finds Dan to be a total bore. Perhaps he doesn't understand the science speak. I repeatedly attempted to bring him into the conversation but he would sit there with his head turned, watching the waitresses, arms crossed, foot tapping. He wiggled so much he reminded me of a poodle. He was like a little boy told that he couldn't smash anything, when he had been getting away with it. My assessment: he needs to be the center of attention. Perhaps he finds me boring, too, since I'm into the science talk. And I don't salivate over him. Bob is in his 40's, very handsome and buff. He has an earring in one year, a tan, and is a lead guitar player. He presents himself as Mr. Cool. Dan is old, ugly, skinny, scarred, stiff and has no hope of being "competitive" in yoga class. I think Bob hates it that I find Dan's nerdiness more interesting than his machoness. So I took a deep breath, put down my fork and watched him behave like a thwarted baby. I hadn't seen this side of Bob before. Egad. Bob's an infant, and Dan's an emotional retard. I'd rather go out for breakfast with women.

After breakfast I went to the bathroom in the back of the restaurant, and completely avoided any possible sneak attack "hug" from Dan.

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