Marolt: Breathe deepest, the end of yoga as we know it is near
I think the best world records are the ones you don’t see coming. At least that’s my experience.
OK, so I only have one world record. Maybe I’m not the foremost expert. But, for the moment, at least, it’s recorded in the books that I have held the peacock longer than anyone else on the planet.
It’s not what it sounds like. We are not talking about the bird or anything else like that. The peacock is a goofy-looking yoga pose, but that doesn’t tell you much either. Basically it’s performing a plank pose with your feet off the floor. That’s the best I can describe it.
My world record came about in a very peculiar way. Although I had trained, I was not training for it.
We had just completed our first day in Italy touring Venice, hiking just over 10 miles in three hours to find St. Mark’s Square and returning in just over 15 minutes once we knew the correct route back to the hotel.
A 10-hour flight and eight-hour time difference causes some people jet-lag. It causes me disc problems. While the rest of my family tried to use a nap as a coping mechanism, I decided the time would be better spent doing a series of daily core strengthening and stretching exercises that I have developed throughout years of physical therapy to cope with a bad back that goes out more often than a college sophomore with a phony Rhode Island driver’s license. I call it my 15 minutes of pain. It’s actually not very painful at all and only takes about 30 minutes, but calling it that has a ring that motivates me.
At any rate, I’m exercising and my son happens to look up from his hotel bed as I’m doing the peacock and remarks, “Jeez dad, you’re holding that a pretty long time.” He grabs his phone and Googles the world record. “It’s only a minute forty-seven,” he says. “I bet you can beat that.”
In a moment of sleep-deprived brain-numbed confusion I say, “Only one way to find out.” Two-minutes and five seconds later I am a world record holder. In reality it took the judges of such things a couple of weeks to review the iPhone footage and verify the record, but my son and I both knew.
Here’s the thing, though: I know there is a true yogi somewhere who could probably hold the peacock pose atop a 60-foot telephone pole for about eight weeks. That person is now hyperventilating and trying to get in their peaceful zone thinking about this. That’s because true yogis don’t compete with yoga. An equivalent would be something like two monks arguing about who is the most modest. It’s supposed to be all about peace and calm and long, sinuous muscles. You’re not even supposed to grunt or wince when you do yoga. Practitioners with floral patterned tights or embroidered initials on their mats are the outliers of ostentatiousness.
The great irony is that I am the world record holder of an activity that the people who are really good at aren’t supposed to compete at. It’s enough to make somebody lock themselves in a studio and turn the thermostat all the way up to get their oms back in tune. I believe this has the potential to push yoga over the brink and into the rat race.
I mean, if even just one yogi snaps and challenges this record, even if just to prove a point, what’s to prevent a domino effect of yogis to go out and get their share of recognition for each and every yoga pose ever tried?
I’m not the only stone skipping across the calm pond. A couple of months ago somebody garnered international recognition for holding a plank position for over five hours. That’s right, 315 minutes of abdominal searing pain and the onset of permanent disc lockout! I guarantee it’s been hashed over at every yoga studio on the planet. I also promise you that this person uttered more than a grunt somewhere along the way to that record. That record was to raise awareness for disabled vets. I say mine was to show that jet-lagged travelers don’t have to be confined to the pullout sofa their first few afternoons halfway around the globe. While there’s a big difference in motive, both lead to competitive yoga. “YOGA” could become the new “EGO.” It’s not that much of a stretch! Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Roger Marolt admits to grunting and wincing while doing yoga. email@example.com
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