You know how it is—you get all kinds of throw-away emails these days. But just recently, I received a missive that piqued my interest, although begrudgingly at first. The point of the thing—and it came from a sawbones who’s apparently an avid reader of Power & Motoryacht—was that when you get a little older (I’m presently 74 years of age, a fact I’ve mentioned in previous columns), you need to keep your joints “limbered up” as much as possible so you can continue to fully enjoy the boating lifestyle.
As I said, my initial response to this unsolicited suggestion was less than positive. After all, I told myself, I can still hop around the Betty Jane II pretty good, although maybe not with quite as much aplomb as I used to exhibit in the good old days. So hey, I’d say I’m currently limbered up enough to comfortably deal with the next couple of decades. My need for limberin’ is not all that desperate at this juncture, thank you very much.
But then, of course, reality had to toss in a couple of cents. Maybe the guy was right! I am, I gotta admit, getting a little long in the tooth. My knees are indeed losing some of their flexibility and resilience, perhaps due to the misbegotten years I spent making a big deal of my athletic prowess by lunging around offshore supply vessels like Errol Flynn in The Sea Hawk. And then there’s the bursitis issue in my starboard hip—it makes it sorta difficult to walk the dog in the morning, at least sometimes. And then that occasional twinge in the lower back?
The solution to all these issues and many more, the doc advised, was straightforward. I needed to get into yoga, an ancient Indian discipline that entails the adoption of specific bodily postures or poses that will eventually improve, among other things, bodily strength, balance and resiliency. All I had to do to get started, he enthused, was buy a yoga mat—there were all kinds of ‘em on Amazon, I soon discovered—and find a good yoga instructor.
What took place next happened serendipitously. “You know,” my friend and neighbor Mike interjected, smack dab in the midst of a soliloquy I was delivering one evening about boats, boating and the limberin’ up potential of yoga, “the Veterans Administration offers yoga. And you’re a vet, Bill.”
Within a week’s time, I was signed up for a VA-sponsored beginners’ class in Hatha Yoga with a guy named Steve. And lemme tell ya—Steve believes in covering all the bases. Right off the top, he told me that, based on my records and his years of experience doing and teaching yoga, the ancient Indian discipline had the potential to not only improve my bodily strength, balance and resiliency, but it might also ameliorate certain aspects of PTSD, a combat-related condition I only began to address a few years ago.
“We’ll start off with the seated poses,” he explained during our first get-together, “and then we’ll move on, always bearing in mind, of course, that we never want to exceed your physical capabilities.”
How’s it going? Well, I must say, not too badly, although my progress seems to be somewhat slow and creaky, probably because I’m only doing one class a week. But there’s hope for vast improvement, I believe. In the beginning, I had a very ho-hum yoga mat—I mean, the darn thing had no pizzazz at all. It was about as boring as a five-gallon bucket of dirt.
But now, I’m contemplating the purchase of a genuine “Magic Carpet Yoga Mat, fashioned after a Persian rug … with ornate floral and diamond patterns.” The darn thing costs $112 and will ultimately, I theorize, allow me to blissfully assume, let’s say, the “Downward Dog” asana (Woof! Woof!) while enjoying a magic carpet ride that suspends me several feet above everything that exists. Maybe for hours. Maybe even for days!