Today, I went for part (which was all I could survive) of an all day workshop at the Sikh kundalini yoga center. I knew almost nothing about kundalini, so I looked it beforehand in Wikipedia. I quote:
“Summary of Known Problems [resulting from kundalini]: Death, pseudo death, psychosis, pseudo psychosis, confusion, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, sadness, suicidal thoughts, urges to self-mutilate, homicidal urges, arrhythmia, exacerbation of prior or current mental illness, insomnia, inability to hold a job, inability to talk, inability to drive, sexual pains, temporary blindness, and headaches.”
I naturally wondered if I would survive the afternoon, but, “what the heck,” I said to myself, “it's free. Besides, what are the odds that I’ll have all these problems at once?”
I was the only male in a roomful of middle-aged women (the other men having presumably died or gone insane), all of whom sat comfortably on the floor with their legs in a lotus position while I propped myself torturously against the wall. We practiced exercises that seemed so fiendishly designed to destroy knees that, had I been paranoid, I would have thought the teachers knew I was coming and were out to get me. We—rather the rest of the class—sat with their knees bent so their feet were beneath their butts; they squatted with their heels touching one another; and then they returned to a lotus position. I had to stifle my laughter as I considered the absurdity of my utter ineptness at doing any of the things that everyone else could do so easily.
Not that the teachers were content with knee twisting exercises. We also stared at our noses, tightened our anal sphincters, drew energy through our navels, chanted the same four syllables interminably, touched our fingers to our thumbs in time with our chanting, and panted—all at the same time. I could soon see that kundalini yoga would indeed drive me stark raving mad, and that it wouldn’t take long either.
After three sessions, each of which was wilder than its predecessor, I left. I couldn’t believe that people actually do this stuff, yet my curiosity would have kept me there for the final hour if only I could have sat in a chair.
As I biked home, I reflected upon my inability to do a single exercise correctly as well as the absence of other men in the class, and I recalled the S.C.U.M. (Society for Cutting-Up Men) Manifesto which was written in 1967 by Valerie Solanas, the radical feminist who shot Andy Warhol. The following will give but a mild taste of her sentiments:
“The male is a biological accident: the Y (male) gene is an incomplete X (female) gene, that is, it has an incomplete set of chromosomes. In other words, the male is an incomplete female, a walking abortion…. the male is unfit even for stud service…[he] is, nonetheless, obsessed with screwing; he’ll swim through a river of snot, wade nostril-deep through a mile of vomit, if he thinks there’ll be a friendly pussy awaiting him.”
Since the part about snot and vomit was true enough, I asked Peggy--my resident nurse--whether the male Y gene really is simply an X gene with some parts missing. She said, “Picture a Y. What you’ve got is an X with only one leg right? This being undeniable, it necessarily follows that every Y that ever existed was a totally screwed-up, irredeemable mess. This is why the women in your yoga class could stand on one foot with their other limbs extended while you crashed to the floor. They were mighty towers of beauty and light; you were a three-legged dog in a hurricane.”
“Uh,” I interrupted. “I knew there were X genes and Y genes, but it never occurred to me that the genes really looked like Xs and Ys or that they had to spend their lives on their feet, as it were.”
“Well, sad to say, but now you know,” Peggy concluded. “This is knowledge that female nurses have always had, but that male doctors—even geneticists—have been protected from. Mine is, after all, a compassionate gender. That’s why we don’t start wars or beat people up like you stupid men.”
So it is that I will leave kundalini yoga to the gender that is better suited for it, and welcome to it they are. I had rather be strapped to a chair and forced to watch sitcoms from the 70s.