Thursday, 6 January 2011

I Don't Wanna Be Your Downward Dog

 Article and illustrations by Mrs. Tami Thirlwell-Nicol
Mr. Pop demonstrates

Good afternoon Skoolers,

Today I’ve called an emergency assembly. We have yet to cover a
topic which, while rather foreign to the punk lifestyle, still has a place in the realm of beauty and thus, the Skool.That subject is fitness.

Now I realize that our Skool is not about to set foot into ‘jock
nifty’ territory, especially when, historically, we had ironically
met our fitness goals by routinely running from packs of said
nifties. You also wouldn’t find too many of us on the swim team,
the tennis circuit or training in track and field. No, our forms of
exercise in the punk days consisted of scaling chain link fences
to escape the authorities, marching in protest parades, diving
off stages at gigs and, of course, the constant cardio blasts from
pogoing in the mosh pit. The latter was our own version of being
on the high school wrestling team.

Gym class was exponentially brutal as the years went by. I never
considered this period to be fun and games. For me Phys Ed
was really just unwarranted punishment between classes. It was
uncomfortable, superfluous and offered no qualitative benefits. Not
seeing a need to be competitive in the wide world of elementary
school sports I became quite skilled at playing on the sidelines.
I dodged dodge ball entirely; being struck in the head by a thick,
heavy sphere of rubber was in no way appealing. The grass hockey
team meant chronically bruised shins and a lot of running up and
down a field hoping for a lunch bell to ring. And running track
was for hamsters; it winded and bored me simultaneously. I did
not experience the so-called ‘runner’s high’. Believe me, if I had I
would have been setting records.

As for group sports, nothing says ‘ready, set, gotta go’ like waiting
to be picked for a team. Ten excruciating minutes of standing
with one’s peers feeling like the Jello salad at Frank Baker’s
smorgasbord while captains Stacy and Mandy choose their
dream team is no way to spend one’s youth. My head is running
a commentary on their selections: ‘Oh man, you’ve got to be
kidding. Really? Her? Okay, seriously, Margaret? This is bullshit
man, that spaz Maureen? ...her? ...wha? ...her?... fine pick Nancy,
I hope she can throw more than just a hissy fit...huh...her?...yup,
okay Wendy, whatever...hey, finally. Not too shabby, second to
last-- I beat out the scoliosis chick!’

As you can see class, my sports stats are less than stellar. But this
didn’t stop me from finding some form of exercise I could live
with. It would be outside of the standard practices of traditional
ladylike sports. I entered the renegade world of skateboarding. The
most valuable thing about this new activity is that it never felt like
exercise. Finally, I had found something that I enjoyed. But that’s a
discussion for another day.

Now, back to the reason for this emergency assembly: fitness, sure.
Staying in shape is important, yep, however, more importantly:
fitness attire. I have never really had an issue with what one
chooses to wear when working out. It used to be all Sporty Spice
Adidas-style nylon or cotton sweat pants, and if one can keep it to
the parks and gyms that’s all well and good. However, currently
this is simply not the case. Somewhere along the track those
sweatpants were swapped out for the rampant and nondiscretionary
wearing of yoga pants. Yes, yoga pants. How did they happen?
Where did they come from and why do women insist on wearing
them? Everywhere.

I’m no stranger to yoga. My mother, determined to find an activity
for me one summer, signed me up for a beginner’s Hatha yoga
class at the local community centre when I was eleven, (after I was
deemed too klutzy for gymnastics and too chunky for ballet). I was
told to wear very loose clothing-- that’s LOOSE CLOTHING all
you spray-on-spandex-loving Sun Salutationers-- preferably draw
string pants and a comfy tee shirt. I wore pajama bottoms and
my ‘War is not healthy for children and other living things’ tee.

The classes were strange and quite the opposite of calming. I never
seemed to please the patchouli-infused yoga instructor and she
made a point of letting me know it. I think her name was
Moonbeam or Sunshine. As I twisted myself into some skewed
position and waited for Moonshine’s appraisal I listened to her
encouraging the other members in the class: “That’s lovely, Sheila,
yes just extend that arm a little more.” When Sunbeam arrived at
my self-styled sculpture there was no gentle critique. She just
started to yank my limbs around like I was Gumby. Ow! “There,
now hold that till I come back,” she barked. (She hates kids, was
my first thought). When Starshine returned ten minutes later she
asked, “Why aren’t you doing the Half Cow?” “ It hurts," I
replied. “But you're just lying there, what pose is this?” she
demanded. “The Plank,” I said.

Now nearly forty years since my introduction to all things pretzel-
like, someone, most likely not a yogi master, has instituted
some sort of yoga by-law: the wearing of stretchy, link sausage-
inducing pants with matching yoga bra tops. But just because the
fabric ‘breathes’ doesn’t make it all right. Apparently this clobber
should be decorated with arbitrarily placed dashes of bright pink or
purple or blue. This is so you can safely match with your yoga mat.
Here we have the necessary outfit to propel us on our road (heavily
trampled) to enlightenment. And if you really want to reach an
enviable level of Nirvana you’ll make sure it has that trademark
logo on the gear, letting everyone know it is of the highest spiritual
quality (that money can buy).

This, for me, is not on. What started out as a means to physical
wellbeing and a way to achieve a sense of peace and tranquility has
morphed into a fancy version of “does my ass look good in these
pants?” And what’s up with the cropped yet flared pant leg? Is the
flare really necessary? Do one’s calves really expand that much
when doing the Warrior pose? I can’t take it. I really can’t. And
what is it about Sundays? You can’t really tell me that every
woman spends the whole Sunday doing yoga and that stretchy
yoga pants are the only ‘must have/go to’ piece to be worn that
day. Oh and please, add insult to injury by sporting a big old pair
of chunky trainers to go with. Hey now you’re set for a stylish
Sunday vegan brunch and a walk along the Seawall with 3,000 of
your contemporaries. Just don’t forget your baseball cap with
protruding ponytail. It’s like a flash mob down there. It’s as if
everyone tweeted the night before, agreed to put on yoga pants and
head to the seawall. Any minute the Black-Eyed Peas are going to
show up. They’ll perform a version of “I’ve Got a Feelin’ with
sitars and tiny cymbals. The LuLu Lemon girls will synchronize all
their Kundalini moves. They’ll be whipping out their color-
coordinated yoga mats, tossing around their foam bricks (for the
less flexible-- pffft-- losers), and pulling on their long Vinyasa
bright pink leg warmers ‘cause it gets chilly in those hot yoga
rooms. Besides, they look so cute. Remember the cuter the outfit
the closer to Vishnu! And don’t forget to rehydrate using your
standard issue “Om” stainless steel water bottle. It has to be
an “Om”. Om or go home, I say. Afterwards, everyone will pop
into their favorite all-natural health food restaurant for a $30 dollar
bowl of steaming hot organic lentils and fair trade kale and quinoa

So, if you’ve missed the break out yoga flash mob on the sea wall,
don’t lose any meditation time over it. Just head to your nearest
Bikram franchise and join in on some steaming hot fun. It’s sort
of like Sweatin’ to the Oldies, 2010 style. Get there early because,
really, everyone will be fighting for the front row in anticipation of
the Downward Dog.


  1. being struck in the head by a thick,
    heavy sphere of rubber was in no way appealing.

    Yah, but when someone else gets hit in the head with something, it's hysterically funny.

    I have also tried the Bikram's. So. Awful. I tapped out after 40 minutes. I'm a big baby.

  2. the cuter the outfit
    the closer to Vishnu!
    Very Funny, RDRR!

  3. Another brilliant outing T.T.N. I couldn't agree with you more. Years ago I realized that not only is life too short for chess, it's definitely too short for yoga. This from someone who was pretty good at chess, and got a few licks down in yoga too. But really, ya gotta move on.

    Nice jobbie on the illustrations too.