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Jan 22, 2021

New Yoga Positions and Mantras for Those “Adjusting” to 2021

Because getting me to exercise is always a stretch

By Ed Goldman

A crossword puzzle clue, “Upward facing dog,” perplexed me for the duration of two cups of very black coffee one recent morning. Since I use a pretty big cup, you can imagine how perplexed I was. (And how jittery.)

When the answer turned out to be “yoga pose,” my level of perplexedness only rose (as did my jitteriness). When I get the right answer to a crossword puzzle only because the letters around it keep sliding into place, it eats at my self-confidence. In an admittedly exalted comparison, it would be like accidentally knocking the contents of one of those cups into a vat of chemicals and having my very black coffee turn out to be the one ingredient that had been missing in the COVID vaccine. This development also would have resulted in the FDA needing to acknowledge insomnia as one of the medicine’s occasional side effects, needless to add.  

Edgy Cartoon

Yoga poseur

Some actual yoga positions, besides “upward facing dog”—its formal name is “Urdhva Mukha Svanasana,” a name longer than most dogs are, include the following: 

  • Trikonsana (which sounds like you’re pulling a fast one on Mr. Claus); 
  • Shavasana (which sounds like a stereotypical Italian barber is threatening to remove Mr. Claus’s beard); 
  • Handstand (pronounced “Hand/Stand”);
  • Balasana; and 
  • Bakasana, which is what you get when you knock the L out of Balasana. 

Four poses whose prefixes sound ominous to me are Malasana, Baddha Konasana and, especially in pandemic times, Virasana. When words begin with “mal,” “bad” and “vira,” I never think they foretell that good times are a’comin’.

Well, thanks to sheltering at home on and off for 10 months, I’m dreadfully out of shape. And I do mean that “thanks to,” since the self-isolating order gave me an excuse for turning from being a still-feisty senior into the leading candidate to star in a reboot of “The Blob.” 

Accordingly, I’ve been looking up stuff on various diet programs—Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Atkins, Texas Chainsaw Massacre—and decided that yoga still seems the most sensible and sustainable direction for me. But I insist on creating my own poses and mantras:  

BANDANNA: “Scarf” all you like but be sure to wear a cotton handkerchief around your neck when you stand on your head. The mind is a terrible thing to puree.

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HOSANNA: This word is usually defined as an expression of joyousness or praise for God. I have no need to change that. It’s what I issue forth as I uncoil from every yoga position. This is not to be confused with my screaming “Jesus Christ!” when I first coil into each yoga position. 

DAN TANNA: The hero of the old series “Vega$,” played by the late Robert Urich. Drop an N and it’s also the name of the legendary Italian restaurant in Hollywood, Dan Tana. Figure out that you don’t need to care about either of these and you may well achieve Nirvana.

IPANA: A long-gone, awful-tasting, winter-green toothpaste whose mascot was an animated beaver named Bucky. By being depicted chewing logs for dam construction, Bucky may have been the American Dental Association’s first foray into inventing plaque and flossing. This is a pretty good mantra as long as your yoga classmates don’t think you’re mumbling “I panic,” which could upset the session’s mellow vibe—especially if people have Enya singing on their smartphones.

NANA: This is whom you scream for when forced into an untenable yoga, business or divorce  position. Relief will be provided no matter who shows up—your grandmother or the St. Bernard from “Peter Pan.”  

O’SUSANNAH: A yoga pose inspired by the wonderful old Stephen Foster song of the same name, this involves your swaying sensually from side to side with a banjo on your knee.

ROSH HASHANAH: Not much is known about this pose but its accompanying mantra is “Oy.”

ROSEANNE ROSEANNADANNA: While this seems as though it will be a hugely complicated position at first glance, at the very end it evokes your issuing a lovely resignation to the world and its imperfections: “It’s always something.”

MANNA: This sweet-tasting, high-glucose food, said to be from Heaven, is what awaits you after an especially tortuous yoga session, accompanied by two very large cups of very black coffee—as long as they’re not being used to create a vaccine that day.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).