George went to see his doctor because he felt like his blood was trying to escape from his veins and his heart had recently become excruciatingly loud. Dr. Kelly listened to George’s heart, took his blood pressure, prodded his stomach, squeezed his scrotum and said, “It’s stress. You need to relax. Lose weight. Exercise.”
One of George’s co-workers had started yoga last year and now all she talked about was being Zen. She had also developed quite an appealing figure. George considered inner calm and physical excellence both desirable, so he signed up at the nearest yoga studio.
In the weeks leading up to the first class, George began to worry. He hadn’t done anything remotely physical for years and was far from fit. Also, what did one wear to a yoga class? He’d seen women strutting in black tights, mats slung nonchalantly over their shoulders. But what did men wear? Shorts were no good as any number of positions might expose his unit, or worse, it could slip out into the open. The day before his first class, he decided not to bother with anything fancy. He would wear sweatpants.
George arrived early and was greeted by a young woman who had the most acutely toned body he had ever seen. Her name was Willow. Her biceps were like smooth peanuts. Her breasts, the size of lemons, were coaxed gently forward by her tight turquoise top. He could see the texture of her well-sculpted calf muscles beneath her homogeneously tanned skin and her round glowing face had a peculiar timeless quality.
Willow handed him a purple rubber mat and suggested he warm up while the others arrived. George went to the back, unrolled the mat, and quickly discovered that he couldn’t touch his toes. He could barely reach his knees. Doing his best to avoid his reflection in the mirrors lining the walls, George resorted to arm and neck stretches.
A few minutes later, a student arrived. She had long blond hair swept up in a ponytail, and a tight pink top gathered her voluptuousness into unprecedented cleavage. She gave George a friendly nod and placed her green mat in front of his. Before long, six more young women had sauntered through the door, all supremely fit and wearing equally enchanting outfits.
“Welcome,” said Willow once everyone had unrolled their respective mats. “Let’s begin with a Sun Salutation.”
When the girls raised their hands like ballet dancers preparing to be lifted into the air, George shot his arms above his head. When they curled their tiny bodies in half and placed their palms onto the floor, he bent over and reached for his knees. When they leapt back and silently landed in a push-up position, he heaved his legs up and flopped onto his stomach.
George soon found himself in the most uncomfortable position he could have imagined. His hands and feet were on the floor with his buttocks raised as if in preparation for a rectal exam. Not only was the pose degrading, it was difficult to maintain. His arms shook and threatened to collapse. Sweat dripped from his forehead and caused his hands to slide on the rubber mat. Willow instructed them to hold the position. She said they should feel comfortable, relax, enjoy. George’s breath came out in short, heavy wheezes. He fought off a wave of dizziness and concentrated on not toppling forward. When he was sure he couldn’t support himself any longer and was about to retreat to his stomach, Willow told the class to leap to their feet, reach to the ceiling, and the whole ordeal started again. Yoga wasn’t as relaxing as George had imagined. In fact, it wasn’t relaxing in any capacity. It was hard and humiliating.
Willow had them take a wide step to the right and, keeping both legs straight, reach with the right hand to the right ankle while the left hand lifted towards the ceiling.
“Head facing forward,” she trilled.
George went for his inner thigh and kept his legs slightly bent to steady his stance. He was doing alright until his eyes locked with the supple spheres in front of him. A mere arm’s length away was a precious pair of ass cheeks, tilted slightly as if staring at him in concentration. A canon of warmth shot through George’s groin and his penis lifted like a beast from deep slumber. He tried closing his eyes but was instantly dizzy. He had no choice but to face the celestial buns before him There was a swoop of delight beneath his sweatpants but it was quickly trumped by the sheer discomfort of the position.
Next Willow told them to lie on their backs and lift their legs, arms and torso off the mat. George flexed with all his force. He winced. He grunted. And slowly, they rose.
“Higher!” shouted Willow.
George, wide-eyed and gasping, invested the last of his energy into lifting his limbs and torso another centimetre. The immense strain forced an intestinal air pocket from deep within a cavernous hideout to enter the studio. Silence followed.
George rolled up his mat. There didn’t seem to be anything else to do. He placed it on the shelf and made his way to the door. Back on the street, George made a left and walked to Gus’ Fitness Centre. Inside, a sour odour permeated. Men pumped iron, grunting with each surge as sweat streamed down their faces, made their torsos glisten and soaked their shorts. Men ran on treadmills, their feet pounding against the belts, their breath low heaves. Men sat on bicycles, hunched over and pedalling fiercely.
George stepped up to the desk.
Nisha Coleman writes and plays violin in Montreal. She is currently working on a series of busking tales based on her experiences as a street musician in Paris, France. More can be discovered at www.nishacoleman.com.