Dear Mr. Staskus,
I joined the U.S. Army last month, to defend our country and fight the terrorists. I expected basic training to be hard, but I was ready for the challenge. Recently I found out that yoga is going to be part of our fitness training. Our drill sergeant says it will keep us flexible instead of bulked up, and meditation will keep us calm when things get nerve wracking. How can that be? Yoga is for chicks, isn’t it? I need to know the right way to hold my rifle, not the right way to touch my toes.
Dismayed in Fort Benning
Not to worry. After Osama bin Laden was killed, Gaiam Life, the leading yoga accessory manufacturer, issued a “special edition” yoga mat thanking Seal Team 6 for taking care of business. Many people are skeptical of the power of yoga, but not the Navy Seals. When interviewed, they often mention how closely yoga training resembles their own. Some Seals have even set up their own yoga schools, blending yoga exercise with combat techniques. Since you are just a grunt in boot camp, you’re not going to argue with the Seals, are you?
Dear Mr. Staskus,
I have been married for 12 years and have three children. I love yoga, but my husband has never had any interest in it, so I have always gone to the studio without him. He enjoys eating, sleeping and watching sports on television. In the past year, I have fallen for a man with two boys who also passionately practices yoga at my studio. He is very fond of me too. His wife is ignorant and irresponsible. I think he would be a wonderful husband and a great father for my children. Should I take the plunge, leave my husband, and start a new life?
Troubled in Minneapolis
Have you completely lost your mind? First of all, do you realize there are five children involved in your so-called yoga romance? How do you think they are going to feel when not one, but two families are broken up? Second, what does yoga have to do with cheating on your husband, besides breaking most of the principles by which yoga is practiced? There is more to yoga than standing on your head, which you seem to be doing quite well. There is no reason to live unhappily, but dump the yoga Lothario and try helping your husband off the La-Z-Boy. Maybe there is a reason he is such a slug. Living to eat and watch the NFL is living the dead life. Yoga asana might be a great way to get him going, and your marriage too. Help him and you might help yourself as well.
Dear Mr. Staskus,
I practice at a large studio and often hear our various yoga teachers say things like, “Live in the now” and “It’s all good, it’s yoga.” But, what about learning from the past and planning for the future? And it all can’t be good, can it? Some things have to be right and wrong. Don’t they?
Baffled in Boston
It is obvious you have not read the Bhagavad Gita, one of yoga’s most important guidebooks. In the book, which is a poem from long ago, a warrior named Arjuna doesn’t want to go to war. He tells his chariot driver, who happens to be the god Krishna, that he doesn’t see the sense of it; all the slaughter leading to nothing but disaster and ruin. Krishna has his own agenda, which is revealed later in the story so I won’t ruin the surprise. Needless to say, he musters many arguments to convince Arjuna to go to war, among them the “be here now” argument and the “there is no evil” argument. The newest translation by Stephen Mitchell is the best and most accessible; I advise you to read it as soon as possible. All will be revealed.
Dear Mr. Staskus,
After I moved across town and changed yoga studios, I noticed that more and more of my friends from my old studio fell to the wayside. I had two long-time friends who disappeared from my radar screen completely. My question is, do I just let these friends slip away? Or do I try to save our friendships?
Confused in San Francisco
I don’t blame you for being confused. It is one of life’s most common problems when all of a sudden you are not so close to friends anymore. Friendships increase the quality of our lives. What to do? Give those friends a call. Invite them over for dinner, or go out on the town. Catch up with what they have been doing. When you visit with friends, you do something good for them and for yourself. Here is what the Buddha said about friends,
“He gives what is hard to give. He does what is hard to do. He endures what is hard to endure. He reveals his secrets to you. He keeps your secrets. When misfortunes strike, he doesn’t abandon you. When you are down and out he doesn’t look down on you. A friend endowed with these seven qualities is worth associating with.”
I wish you the best of luck reconnecting with your friends. If it doesn’t work out, remember you can always make new friends at your new studio.
Ed Staskus is from Sudbury, Ontario and lives in Lakewood, Ohio, with his wife Vanessa. He practices yoga (Bikram at a studio and yin at home), and subscribes to Buddhism.
Ed: Terri Tremblett
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