It makes me question your commitment to my methods, my dear Wormwood, to discover that the Semi-retired Alcoholic has just bought an unlimited membership. And to Bikram, no less!
You are going to have to lean on him hard to keep him beneath your foot. Membership will entice the Semi-retired Alcoholic for the same reason that happy hour and “knowing” the bartender once did. He will think he’s turning bad decisions into good. He will scoff at people he doesn’t know. This is very bad.
It’s too late to create a sense of belonging now that he belongs. Try a different approach, try to remind him that he basically owns the place. First of all drill it into his head that he’s basically saving money the more he goes. We both know the Semi-Retired Alcoholic is a lazy little git.
When he went to the $20 class you noticed he tried very, very hard. He had to make it count. Now, you see we need to nudge him in the opposite direction. The Enemy will be comfortable now pushing him harder, maybe even learn his real name (work on that if you can). The Semi-retired Alcoholic will gets lots of attention from the enemy and eventually stop struggling. You need to give him the same amount of attention without it becoming a tug of war.
Best focus on the crowded classes just after work. These classes will be full of tourists and people with a five-class groupon. It will be hot, crowded and you will have everything working in your favor. When he starts into one of the hard poses and the Enemy isn’t watching, gently remind him that he doesn’t have to get it right all at once. He has an unlimited month here.
If you find him going to more than three classes you’ve got him right where he needs to be. Once he gets comfortable with the room and the instructors it will become just like everything else he hasn’t really tried hard at before. You must keep his mind on his credit score, or the un-yoga grunts coming from the sweaty man next to him.
Familiarity with the Enemy’s teaching will only help you. When you see him struggling you must come to his aid and copy the Enemy’s methods. Go down and say, “Almost over, hold it…hold it…ah, nevermind other people have already fallen out of the pose.” In order to seem supportive, the Enemy will not correct him on this.
He will then feel free to continue taking liberties, breaking the three-minute shower limit, and spreading out on the bench while others are trying to put on their shoes. He’ll probably get an injury and stop going regularly. By the end of the month he will go to just one class a week and you can get him to stop even this when his card runs out.
There is an equilibrium to all things on Earth. Good finds evil just as easily as children find splinters. For this reason we must always keep an eye on the Casual Sinner, the Semi-retired Alcoholic and the Dieting Glutton. They will all be attracted to yoga.
The key is to remain silent when they find their way to yoga. A patient will come to yoga at a certain age for the same reason they once joined the frat house or the needle exchange. They want to belong.
After their first class the Enemy will go easy on them. Lots of “good practice” and “way to push yourself.” Semi-Retired alcoholic will sweat out every drop of juice left in him and use the parts of his lungs that even bong-hits can’t find. He will wring his liver out like a dish sponge. The Dieting Glutton will love being complimented and praised for touching his or her goddamn toes, knees bent all the way to their chin(s). Let them.
As soon as practice is over they will go home, walk tall. They will feel renewed and rejuvenated. Let them have even this. We must go silent into the night and they won’t think of the mellifluous tinkle of ice cubes in the vodka glass. They will walk home past any number of happy hours and dinner. They’ll probably go home and steam vegetables for dinner and go to bed at a decent hour for once.
The next day they will be sore. Painfully sore. Their old injuries will cry out. The Semi-Retired Alcoholic’s elbow will hurt right in the torn ligament that ended his pitching career. The Dieting Glutton’s stomach will hurt, both abdominally and from all of the digestion he or she aided yesterday. They will be tired and grumpy in the same way that their scant friends and coworkers have gotten used to. ”But you don’t understand,” they’ll say, almost without having to. ”I’ve had a transformation. I’ve done yoga.”
And everyone around them will put on the same smile they did last time when they announced a new commitment to jogging or meditation or the nicotine patch.
That whole day they will walk around feeling very alone. At this point they feel just as alienated by yoga and the rental mats and the poses with funny names in both English and Sanskrit. Now, my dear Wormwood, that is when we do what we have always done for our patients. If they go to yoga that night they will stretch out those sore muscles and find out what they were doing incorrectly. The Enemy will beam at them and be supportive in a way that their own families won’t.
That’s when we get them. Right around lunchtime the Dieting Glutton’s stomach will growl and we both know a salad won’t do. The Semi-retired Alcoholic will be thirsty all day from sweating it out yesterday. Then right before lunch a jammed stapler will activate that old baseball injury. He will think immediately of the look of disappointment on his father’s face that day. And we won’t even have to put the thought in their heads that they’ve earned it.
You won’t have to worry about them for the rest of the day. They’re not going to attempt any squatting with a stomach full of cheeseburgers and vodka tonics. Just as the drowning man gasps for air when you toss him a lifesaver, the Dieting Glutton and the Semi-retired Alcoholic will hoover up their passions.
And the next day they will feel even worse.
My dear Wormwood,
As you begin you will discover no more vile an exercise that leads to so much self-satisfaction. It will also lead almost immediately to some kind of do-goodery. How many of these toned, stiff-spined animals will leave class and then go hold doors for old women? How many will have their breathing down to a science so that no ATM bumbler or person in traffic before them won’t send them to a rage?
Soon it leads to a kind of self-worship that has no end. How many young men are we to sit with as they stare at their glistening chests in the mirror, thinking they look like Bruce Lee?
We endeavor to hunt them out in a variety of ways without ever showing ourselves. Listen to me closely. Breathe in. Now breath all the way out. Namaste.
Remind them always that they would look like this.
Long ago we had one simple Enemy. He had come to earth in human form (he had that much on us, at least) and his reach was vast. Bastard. Now we have an enemy within. It is decentralized and takes up nearly every town in our territory. It is our new Enemy.
Now my dear Wormwood, because of your excellent work I look forward to overcoming Yoga in all of its forms. That begins not by what you put in their heads, but by what you keep out. The best way to do this is to keep them from coming to class whatsoever.
As with Churches, Yoga so often falls into a person’s mindless routine. Good. Keep them right there. Many of these studios are run by one or two part time workers who need to lock the door right at the beginning of class to keep out stragglers. Your greatest weapon against these people is their absent minds. Remind them just as they leave for class:
- Have they spent the maximum amount of time on the internet today to justify going off the grid for an hour or two?
- Did they get enough water?
- Shouldn’t they take it easy today?