Sunday, June 17, 2012

The yoga of bowling; or, what Barack Obama can teach us about bowling and life

I went bowling yesterday with my fiancee and a friend. It has been quite a while since the last time I bowled, and we had a lot of fun. We played about 5 or 6 games. The first two games were okay. I only started getting into form in the last couple of games: I scored a double strike followed by a spare in the second last game: Funny how things only start to get exciting when it's time to go, isn't it? ;-)

On the face of it, bowling seems like the furthest thing from yoga. After all, on a purely physical level, yoga practice involves taking the body through a wide range of asanas and bringing the joints and muscles through a wide range of motion, whereas bowling seems to simply involve doing the same set of actions over and over again: Walk up to the lane, pick up the ball from the ball-feeder (I think that's what it's called), walk down the lane with the ball, take aim, release ball, and hope for the best. Then go back to your seat, watch your friends/opponents bowl (and secretly hope they mess up ;-)). Then rinse and repeat.

But if you have ever bowled more than a couple of games at a time, you will know that to be able to bowl well consistently (or, at the very least, be able to not land one's balls in the gutter all the time) requires a certain consistency in physical technique. This consistency in technique is, in turn, best achieved if one has a clear mind which is not perturbed by things going on around oneself ("Damn! Why is my friend/opponent scoring strikes and spares all the time, while my balls keep going into the gutter?!").  Oh, and in case you don't bowl, and don't know what a gutter ball is, here's a demonstration: Here's then-senator Obama bowling a gutter ball in Pennsylvania back in 2008:

Well, I guess this shows that a great president does not necessarily a great bowler make :-)

The parallels between yoga and bowling become even more pronounced as one goes further into the game. Throughout the course of a bowling session, one may be required to make changes to one's technique and equipment in response to changes in one's physical condition as the session progresses. For example, a heavier ball is harder to lift up and roll, but once released, it also tends to be more stable, and tends to stay the course better than lighter balls, which tend to be more sensitive to changes in one's wrist direction at the moment one releases the ball. With this piece of information in mind, it is usually a good idea to start the game with a heavier ball, and then switch to a lighter ball after a couple of games, when one's hand is a little more tired. In order to know when it is appropriate to switch balls or make adjustments to one's technique, one needs to be mindful of what one's body is feeling at any given moment.

All in all, I think that one is much more likely to enjoy bowling (and even bowl well) if one pays attention to one's physical condition and technique, but at the same time doesn't take oneself too seriously. Remember: It's just a game. And if even Barack Obama can score gutter balls... well, we're in good company :-) Take heart.

Last but not least, it would be very improper of me to talk about bowling without mentioning one of my favorite movies of all time: The Big Lebowski. I highly recommend this movie. This is one movie that might actually change your life :-) Here are a few of my favorite characters from the movie:

[Image taken from here]

 [Image taken from here]


  1. " The Dude minds, man! "

    Probably one of the best movies, ever.