Yoga one possible way to avoid old folks' home

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I started taking a yoga class -- part of my eternal quest for enlightenment, serenity, and the ability to tie my shoes all by myself.

"Did you try propping your foot up on a kitchen stool?" Annie asked.

"Yep. Tried that. I can't raise my leg that high."

"Well then, pull a chair over here and put your foot up on that footstool."

"I tried that, too. I can get my foot on the footstool but I can't reach my shoe."

"Lordy," Annie said. "And you're starting to dribble your dinner on your shirt, honey. I knew this was coming, but I never expected it this soon. Maybe we better find you a home."

"A what?"

"A home. You know, a place where old folks go when they can't care for themselves."

"I thought you were gonna take care of me. You're gonna put me in a home?"

"Well, of course. I've got a farm to take care of and baking classes to teach and children to visit and vacations to take and places to see. I'm way too young to be tending a gimpy husband."

"What about your vows?"

"What vows?"

"For better or for worse."

"Jeepers, Sam, you're not 'worse.' You're tottering on the brink of 'pitiful' and neither of us said anything about 'pitiful' now, did we?"

Annie looked serious. I needed a plan -- a plan to lose weight, get myself back in shape, limber up, and avoid the home.

"You're gonna try to lose weight again? Who do you think you're kidding? You've been trying to lose weight since you were born," Annie said.

Unfortunately, she's right about that.

"And get in shape? Are you serious? You spent three measly days in the gym last year and called it regular exercise."

Unfortunately, she's right about that, too.

"I'm gonna limber up then." I rapped the table with fat knuckles for emphasis. "You can't say I've tried that and failed. I've never tried to limber up."

"Oh, brother," Annie said.

So I signed up for a yoga class.

"OK, let's begin," Ariana said, placing her hands in a prayer-like position, smiling, and bowing to the class -- seven ladies and me.

"We'll start by lying on our backs on our mats and relaxing completely," Ariana said. "Allow your body to fall into the arms of Mother Earth. Let her cradle you in her lap. Breathe. Relax. Notice the rise and fall of your belly."

My belly rose and fell noticeably. It was, perhaps, the most noticeable belly rise in the class.

"Notice your shoulders," Ariana instructed in a soothing whisper. "Get in touch with them. Thank your shoulders for all the wonderful things they do for you. Allow your shoulders to relax. Now your arms. Thank your arms ..."

"Shoot," I thought. "I can do this. I'm darn good at lying on my back and relaxing."

"Very nice, Sam," Ariana said, smiling. "Now class, bring your right knee to your chest."

I got my right foot off the ground. Things were going pretty well. My thigh was moving slowly toward my chest when -- oops -- it bumped into my rising belly. I tried to grab my knee before it bounced away, but missed.

"Suzy, could you help Sam a bit with his knee?" Ariana asked, smiling.

Suzy, a skinny little thing with bony elbows, lay on the mat next to mine. She got up, pulled my leg out to the side, and slid it past my belly.

"Ah, good idea," I said.

Then she pushed my leg gently toward me so I could grab my knee.

"There you go," she said, smiling.

"Thanks," I said.

Suzy did the prayer thing with her hands, nodded and smiled.

I smiled and nodded back. I'd have done the prayer thing with my hands but didn't dare let go of my knee.

"Holding your right knee, move your foot in a circle, watching your toes as you make beautiful circles in space -- admiring your beautiful, amazing foot and the way it moves in space," Ariana said.

"I can't see my foot," I said.

"Paula, would you watch Sam's foot for him and let him know if it's making a circle?" Ariana asked.

"Sure," Paula said, looking over at me. "Sam, you're doing so well. Your foot is making a beautiful circle in space. Too bad you can't see it. You'd be so pleased with your beautiful, amazing foot."

Paula did the prayer thing with her hands, nodded and smiled.

At the end of class, Ariana pulled me aside, smiled, and said she'd never had a student quite like me. She felt I had a lot of potential.

"How was yoga?" Annie asked.

"Good," I said. "I have a lot of potential. That is the smilingest bunch of people I've ever met. The class wore me out. What's for dinner?"

If you'd like to read more of Sam's adventures, visit his website at www.sammcleod.net, or, better yet, buy a copy of his new book, "BIG APPETITE".

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