On the mat: At peace with being wrong | AspenTimes.com

On the mat: At peace with being wrong

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – There are people who will insist, as they strike a picture-perfect king pigeon pose, that there’s no “wrong” way to do yoga.

Which makes me wish there were a video of my performance at the Yoga Rave on the Wheeler Opera House stage at last weekend’s Aspen Eco Fest. I’m pretty sure this was the definition of wrong.

A pretty convincing piece of evidence is one of the instructors telling me I was doing it wrong. This was not the discreet little nudge of the hips that tells you your pose could be improved. This was the instructor calling me out – by name, over the P.A. – that I was doing it wrong. Technically, we hadn’t even begun yoga yet; we were still standing in a circle, holding hands, and apparently I was standing too far forward. If I can’t stand in a circle, what chance do I have of nailing a Natarajasana?

Yoga turns my brain to mush. Simple concepts like “palms upward” require intense concentration. I forget which is my shin and which is my elbow. I swear to Vishnu, I mispronounced the word “Om” in our warm-ups – forgot the “O” part. I peeked around to see if anyone noticed.

The biggest thing wrong wasn’t my fault. After a talk by local yoga master Rod Stryker, my wife suggested we spend the break before the yoga practice across the street at Su Casa. So can you really say I’m the wrong one for consuming enchiladas, refritos, rice and multiple baskets of chips and salsa? I spent my time at the Wheeler in deep contemplation of things: Which is my right leg? Does it count if I stay in downward-facing dog for an hour? Can you really have a spiritual experience when every bit of your energy is focused on not farting? (Checking out the women in their tight yoga clothes doesn’t count as wrong: A. Isn’t that why any guy does yoga? B. The woman I checked out most was my hot wife.)

In the end, I think I got the essentials of yoga right: My body felt good. I had a heightened sense of well-being. My wife was happy that I went along. I even went to yoga again, happily, a few days later.

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And if the ultimate goal of yoga is not throwing up on anyone, I got that right, too. Just barely.

stewart@aspentimes.com