A vacation marked by chants -- and a pulled neck muscle

The Baltimore Sun

Yoga is the kind of activity many reasonably fit people mistakenly think they can pick up on vacation.

Don't get me wrong, yoga is an excellent sport for those who do it regularly, or for superb year-round athletes such as Lance Armstrong. Though I am Lance's peer, age-wise, I believe I am more in the fitness category of Lance Armstrong's mother, assuming she is a "regular person" who does not devote full days to fitness training.

I just returned from a week of vacation, where I practiced both yoga and water-skiing, although not at the same time. Suffice it to say, I am relieved to be at home and engaging in my regular form of exercise: typing.

I spent a week with my family celebrating my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. My aunt and uncle and their children were also at the resort, along with their spouses and their children, who, correct me if I am wrong, are my quasi-cousins once-removed. Making it more complex, one of my cousins married a cousin of my husband, so she, naturally, is my thrice-removed demi-cousin.

It was a lot of family. It was a lot of fun. It was a lot of food. And one morning, as I was partaking of the all-inclusive breakfast buffet, heaping my plate with a made-to-order omelet and a side of fresh tropical fruit, I chanced to look out the window.

There stood a very tan man, a lean and flexible senior citizen, in a black Speedo swimsuit! On his own, he was a most unusual and inspiring sight. But then he raised his right leg to his nose and balanced there, holding a small sign that said, "Yoga, 9:15."

Well, friends, that was some advertisement! I simply could not ignore it. My youngest sister and my semi-cousin and one of my nephews were similarly intrigued, so we finished our meal and headed over to grab a mat.

My sister and I sat in the front because we had never taken yoga and wanted to hear the instructions. But many squirrels were dashing by us at extremely close range; apparently, the yoga instructor regularly fed them.

As we briskly moved our mats to the back row, I said, "Sorry, we grew up in New York. We consider squirrels to be large rodents."

The class began. We stretched in many unanticipated directions, perspiring profusely. There were a couple of poses my sister and I did as partners, and all the while the yoga man kept up a running commentary. Several times, he mentioned how babies can put their toes in their mouths, causing my sister and me to exchange alarmed glances, hoping that this particular brand of vacation yoga did not involve putting our toes into each other's mouths.

Maybe it was the sheer relief, but we were smiling a little too broadly as we lay on our mats for the cool-down. The yoga man chanted backward from 10, and when he got to one he vibrated the pitch around and elongated it into something like "Whaaaaannnnnnnnnnn." I'm not sure who started it, but I definitely recall hearing a suppressed snort from my sister.

So, at this point, the members of the group had their eyes closed and were inhaling and exhaling peacefully, far removed from the cares of this world, while my sister and I were desperately trying not to ruin their trance-like states with peals of incongruous laughter.

Tears were running down the sides of my face onto my mat as I squeezed my face into a grimace, trying desperately to stop laughing. It was at this point that I think I pulled a muscle in my neck.

Of course, it could just as well have happened when I went water-skiing later in the day.

Or, more likely, when I leaned over the dinner buffet table that night to check out the pastries for dessert.

Contact Janet at janet@janetgilbertonline.com

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