Friday, January 25, 2013

How Ashtanga turns you into a boring homebody; Or, don't go to Hooters if you want to read Hemingway

Practice this morning was great. Since the beginning of this week, I have been gradually re-incorporating second series back into my practice after doing primary only for the last month in order to adjust myself energetically to my new habitat. This morning, I did full primary and second up to Bhekasana. In Bhekasana, I went really deep, and got a really nice therapeutic stretch in my left quads. Which was especially nice, because honestly, I was a little nervous about reincorporating Bhekasana, because I had injured my left knee before in this pose. Goes to show that the same asana can be either healing or damaging, depending on whether you approach it with sufficient respect.

Practice this morning was also great in part because I did not end up going anywhere last night. I had wanted to go somewhere where I could sit down, have a glass of wine or a beer, and read without being seen as weird. But it's actually not so easy to find such a place. I mean, who goes to a bar or restaurant to read? Things may be different on the other side of the Altantic, but I can't remember the last time I saw somebody in this country go to a bar or restaurant just to have a drink and read (well, actually, I can remember such a time. See below for more details.) And, as far as I know, none of the coffeeshops in this college town where I'm now at serve alcohol...

Oh no, one more Ashtanga criminal confession here: I drink alcohol! Help... Actually, here's something else that might provide more ammunition to aspiring Ashtanga-bashers out there: Apparently, after you have practiced Ashtanga for a while, you lose the ability to celebrate your birthday like "normal" people do. You just kind of sit at home, drink wine or beer, read, and/or write inane blog posts like this one which people may or may not bother to read. In other words, Ashtanga turns you into a boring homebody with no life!

But, truth be told, I'm more inclined to think that this may be more a problem with our culture than with Ashtanga. I mean, what does it say about a culture that sees going somewhere to have a beer and read as "weird"? Or is this just me and my projections? I don't know...

But I like to think that I'm actually speaking from personal experience here. Here's a story that may be worth telling. Back in the fall of '99, when I was still a, ahem, strapping young man, I attended the University of Texas at Austin for one semester as an exchange student. That was the first time I lived in this country by myself; before that, I had only been to these United States once, with my parents on a vacation when I was thirteen...

Anyway, here's the story:  On a certain fateful fall day in Austin, I wandered into this nice little restaurant with the word "Hooters" emblazoned in bright orange over the door. I had absolutely no idea what Hooters was about at that time, so imagine my, well, pleasant surprise when I saw the uniform of the servers; you must also remember that I was at that time a hot-blooded young man who had no idea what Brahmacharya was... (btw, if you do not live in North America, and have no idea what Hooters is about, this might give you some idea.) Perhaps it was the picture of the owl in the Hooters emblem, but I was under this naive impression that this was an establishment that would be friendly to people who like to read while eating or drinking. So I ordered a bunch of wings, sat back, whipped out a book (I even remember that it was Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms"), and started reading away. A few minutes later, a shrill voice above my head chirped, "No sleeping in here!" In case you're wondering, no, it's not the owl: It was one of the pleasantly-uniformed servers, ostensibly reminding me in her dixie accent (is this politically correct?) what the purpose of the establishment was (or, in this case, was not). I was such a dork, I actually said, "No, I'm not sleeping; I'm reading (what, you can't see?)!" I can't remember what happened after that; I have this picture in my head of her slinking away with a little pout on her face, but this may be a totally reconstructed memory/fantasy with no connection whatsoever with any true remembrance of things past...

I don't know what the point of this story is (Don't go to Hooters if you want to read Hemingway?). Anyway, this is becoming an all-over-the-place, neither-here-nor-there post. So I probably should quit now, while the going is still (relatively) good. More later.     


  1. Nobel, I think Hemingway would have been proud! Happy Birthday!

    1. Thanks! I hope you are right about Hemingway... actually, knowing the kind of guy Hemingway is, I don't think he would be caught dead reading Hemingway in Hooters...

  2. Hi Nobel,

    FYI, I also enjoy going out for a beer and reading a book.
    I can do this, because I don't have a head full of Ashtanga Police ;)

    Also, Happy Belated Birthday!

    1. Thanks, Susan. Yes, life without a head full of Ashtanga Police is better. Otherwise, it would be like living in an Ashtanga version of 1984 :-)