Jim Austin's Vermonter at Large
Jim Austin
Jim Austin
is a freelance writer from Putney, Vermont.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 08.11.05


Hot Yoga Redux

Several months ago I wrote a column entitled "Hot Yoga". In it I lauded the efforts of Ellen, the chief instructor at Hot Yoga of Putney.

How radiant she was, I chirped. How supportive and insightful were her words and deeds. A goddess of joy to be sure. And the yoga was really helping transform my corpulent corpus from a rigid barrel full of cement to a lithe, winged Mercury type.

That may actually be a bit of an overstatement. I have lost 18 pounds in the past few months and I'm still closer to Jupiter that Mercury but I don't have to use the toilet brush to wash my feet anymore.

A major plus is that I can get down behind my golf ball and line up my putts just like the flat bellies do. Before I strengthened my legs I had to force Shorty to read my putts and I've come to suspect that his information is purposefully inaccurate.

In any event there has been a subtle transformation in the aforementioned goddess. Now that I know all the poses and am working to obtain their full expression, I'm no longer treated like Little Lord Fauntleroy at his first piccolo recital. Now, when I whine about knee or back discomfort. I hear Ellen's firm remonstration:

"No stories, don't think, just do."

Ouch, what happened to "lift up, reach up, feel the joy?"

Early on in my travails I would ask that the door be cracked a bit so that my superheated flesh could feel a wisp of air under 105 degrees. This she would do with a Mother Theresa-like smile on her face.

Now her pleasant features twist into a Hannibal Lechter mask as she rasps "Not yet, not yet, you have to work for your air."

Wow, work for your air? That's harsh, even for Yoga boot camp.

No doubt you have worked out the pattern of teaching, as I have. You can't baby your recruits forever. Yoga, like boxing, golf, and bridge is a practice that has a never-ending learning curve.

You can always do better, you can always improve.

"The goal is the journey and the journey the goal."

Thus, a good teacher must push the weary to greater heights. She must challenge both the lithe and the lard-butt alike to achieve more than they ever thought they could.

One very unexpected benefit has been the major change in my chronic asthma condition. I have used steroids, pills, powders, and aerosol sprays to control my asthma since age 24. I used medication every single day of that time.

To date, I haven't used anything in three solid months. Is it the yogick breathing? The heat? Ellen's tender ministrations? I don't know and I don't really care. I can now breathe without chemicals. Mr. Pfizer will be enraged.

This experience has been a real eye-opener for me. I viewed yoga as a navel-gazing, somewhat effeminate pursuit that was practiced by stunned housewives and men with gender issues.

It must be an intensely boring waste of time, I surmised, appealing only to cult prone, self-absorbed simpletons. The only benefit I could see was that there weren't very many Republicans involved.

Yoga is none of those things (except the Republican part). Yoga will change your life for the better. It will improve your health, make your putting more accurate, and give you special insight into stock purchases.

Stay tuned for my next report in about a year. By then I will have come a step closer to Nirvana. Not the Curt Cobain one, the other one.

Ready to try? Check out Ellen's web site for schedules and more info: