Saturday, January 15, 2011

Voodoo Yoga Note

My friend Cindy tells me she's learned a new yoga technique that reduces her blood pressure to a level almost vanishingly low.  That's nice to hear but I wonder--where does all that blood pressure go?  Could it be that we have a technique not merely for reducing one's own blood pressure but for increasing the blood pressure of somebody else?

The city of Louisville is built on a great slab of Bedford limestone--bear with me, there's a sequitur here.  If you want to put down a septic tank, you take a stick of dynamite and blow a hole in the limestone. Sure enough, all the bad stuff will disappear.  The trouble is, it will pop some place else and nobody can say in advance just where.  All we know is that somebody in town is going to wake up one morning to an unpleasant surprise.  I wonder if it works the same way with Cindy's blood pressure.

Or should I be thinking along the lines of "I don't get ulcers, I give 'em"?


Anonymous said...

In our household, we have the theory of the anxiety transfer....there is a fixed amount of ambient anxiety, and if one person isn't stressing over something, it's 'cause they've just managed to offload it on someone else in the house. Maybe this is similar....

Dave Lull said...

Well, an inquirying mind wants to know: What's the yoga techinique your friend has learned?

Buce said...

The word that sticks in my mind is "Bikram." It's cool, she says, but it's hot.

Now that I think of it, Will Self wrote a whole book on the Quantity Theory of Insanity: once one guy goes nuts, somebody else somewhere goes sane.

Dave Lull said...

Michael Blowhard of is a fan of Bikram yoga and has provided enough details about it to persuade me it's not for me. For example:

Bikram yoga. I seldom do Bikram any longer except when I'm on vacation, but only because scheduling is tough. In an ideal world, I'd do a Bikram session once or twice every week. Many people flee after their first try; it can seem like a very weird thing to subject yourself to. But people who love Bikram really love it. Bikram tones and stretches you very effectively; regulars develop beautifully sleek bodies. It can also hit you on amazingly deep (as in psychological and emotional) levels. I got more out of six months of regular Bikram yoga classes than I did out of years of psychotherapy. Bikram wrings you out, and it flushes you out. In my case, it seemed to melt and dissolve many (ahem) "issues" that were bugging me, and it allowed me to become more forgiving, to see life a little more clearly, and to let a lot of garbage go. But Bikram works for me. The Wife, who isn't a fan, says that she doesn't even consider Bikram to be yoga at all, but instead a bizarro form of calisthenics that for some unfathomable reason is performed in a sauna.

During my year as a regular, I became a heat junkie -- this despite the fact that I'm a northern-European mongrel who generally prefers cool weather. Though I initially found the heat in the Bikram studios overwhelming, within three or four months I got to craving it. I wanted heat, more heat, ever more heat, and I could feel very disappointed (if forgiving!) when the room's temperature wasn't cranked up to the max. It's wise to be careful, though. Bikram instructors tend to be barkers and exhorters; the heat lets your muscles and tendons relax more than usual -- and if you get carried away and try too hard, you can easily hurt yourself. (Though I never have.) Taking a Bikram class, it's very important to stay in touch with yourself, and to work at your own pace.

Small tip: If you ever do try Bikram yoga, please make an agreement with yourself that you'll attend at least a dozen classes before deciding for or against. The first few classes feel overwhelmingly strange to most people; with the heat and the sweat, it can be hard enough just to stay in the studio for 90 minutes, let alone to perform all the postures. Until you've taken at least a dozen classes, it's impossible to make a balanced decision about whether or not you're enjoying yourself. FWIW, I'd advise anyone older than 70 to forget about Bikram yoga. I don't think I've ever seen anyone that old in a Bikram class, and I assume there are good reasons why.

See also:

Dave Lull said...
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