Commando Yoga

Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning to unite mind, body and spirit into a pretzel. The postures we learn in class have cute names. We get to be animals (frog, pigeon, camel), things (boat, bridge, chair), and stages of life (child, warrior, corpse). We learn how to create more space in our spines, and open all our joints. We practice standing like a tree, letting our branches gather energy, and then bringing it all to our hearts. However, the thing we do the most, the position that seems to best unite our disparate aspects, is sticking our butts in the air.

My gym buddies and I are in the back row again. While it’s true we can’t see the instructor from here, and we have to guess at when to move our spines between a cat arching its back and a happy puppy with its tail in the air, it’s also true no one has a view of our wagging derrieres. From here we also have an excellent view of everyone else’s puppy-dog poses. As soon as we shift to the down-dog position and lift our right legs, toes reaching for the ceiling, I clear my throat to get my all my friends’ attention. Then I softly hum our code:

I see London

I see France

I see the guy in front of us has no underpants

Yes, it’s true. Monsieur Full Monte is there, right in front of us, wearing baggy black shorts sans undies. My take on this kind of “accidental” exposure is that it helps me exercise my upper lids when my eyes fly open. My gym buddies, in contrast, feel that guys should come properly attired to yoga class. Once they notice the complete European tour in front of them, they look the other way for the duration of the class.

After yoga I ask, “Do you think he knows?”

“Of course, he knows. How could you not know you forgot your underwear?”

I wasn’t so sure. This might be one of those big differences between men and women. When a woman “accidentally” forgets her briefs, she always remembers the quotation marks. Who knows what goes on in the mind of a man? Maybe our commando guy feels that if he’s wearing mid-thigh gym shorts, he’s covered. And if he didn’t make himself a human tripod with one leg raised to the heavens, he would be.

“If we were men and the ones going commando were attractive young women, we wouldn’t be complaining. Guys would enroll in every yoga class from Bakersfield to Bombay.”

“They should have a sign at the door reminding people of proper attire,” another friend says.

By now we’re in the women’s locker room and there’s female nudity all around us. We know there’s an unwritten rule you can’t talk about nudity if there are actual naked people present. So for the moment we stop yakking about the peek-a-boo guy in yoga class.

As soon as we get our things from our lockers, and we’re back in the world where everyone is dressed, I say, “We all know what the rules are. Back in the ’70s we used to go to the clothing-optional beach. There were whole naked families, old people and babies, and everyone in between. We didn’t think anything about romping in the surf in our birthday suits. But we all knew that if we stopped at the grocery store on the way home, we should have our clothes on. Nobody needed a sign recommending proper attire.”

“Nobody except for our commando yoga guy.”

“Next time, why don’t you just tell him,” I suggest.

“Are you kidding? After what we’ve seen, I’d never be able to keep a straight face.”

The next evening, I’m in yoga class again. This time I’ve talked my hubby into going. He’s wearing ankle-length yoga pants over his regular gym shorts, over his underwear. He’s heard all about commando guy, and he’s not taking any chances. We place our mats in the back row behind three lovely young women wearing short shorts.

As we get into a cross-legged position for our opening meditation, I’m wondering if maybe there shouldn’t be a sign at the door. I catch my hubby’s eye. “Remember, Honey, the purpose of yoga is to unite mind, body and spirit.”

He sits up straighter, already creating extra space in his spine. I think he’s going to get a lot out of this class.