I did not sneak into the basement. I admit, I didn’t announce where I was heading, either. I wasn’t hiding anything. It’s just that, if I went down there to do what I wanted to do but couldn’t do it, I didn’t want anybody to know that I couldn’t do it or even that it meant enough to me to bother trying to do it. Does that make sense? The thing is, I had to see if I could do it and, if I failed, I didn’t need some well-meaning do-gooder patting me on the back saying, “it’s all right.” It really didn’t matter in the grand scheme. That’s why I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it.
In spite of what I say, though, it mattered enough for me to move furniture around down there so I could set up my phone far enough away to record a wide-angle video of my attempt so I would have proof, just in case. In the back of my mind, there was a chance.
I hit the start button and hurried into my yoga pose. The goal was to hold it for three minutes and five seconds. I got to a minute and a half and felt solid. Was there hope? Could there be a chance? Then the fatigue came on like a storm, way faster than I remembered. Suddenly I could barely breathe. My vision was fading to black. Could I hold on like this for another minute or so? Not a chance. I collapsed onto the floor in a blob of pain and disappointment. After a few minutes in fetal shavasana I crawled to my phone to look at the replay. A minute and 50 seconds. The champ was dead.
Nobody even called to tell me that my world record had been broken. I suppose I should have assumed that is how it goes in the yoga business. It’s like karma sealed her lips to punish me for turning this into a game.
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It’s not like I started off trying to be competitive about peacocking. That’s the layman’s term for “mayurasana,” which is the yoga pose I held the endurance world record in for almost three-and-a-half years. It happened innocently enough doing yoga in my underwear to ward off some jet lag in our Venice hotel room. I did the pose and my son reclining on the sofa wondered aloud how long I could hold it and looked up the world record — a minute and 42 seconds. With video rolling, two minutes and five-point-two-three seconds later, I was the wobbly world champion!
At first I was checking daily to see if somebody dethroned me, but gradually relaxed, confidently taking the record for granted. Either nobody could break it or nobody cared to try. It didn’t matter. I was the king of peacockiness.
Then, out of COVID-19 boredom blues, I checked on the record the other morning. What Barry Bonds was to Hank Aaron, a guy named Vijesh Elikkattepparambil (go ahead, Google it) became to me. This guy shattered my record by a full minute. Worst of all, it happened more than a year ago! Wouldn’t you think they might have invited me over to Bangalore for the attempt so that they could have had a camera on my face when the record was broken and I swallowed hard while trying to smile? I’m sure I would have mustered the grace to shake his hand or bow or do what ever is appropriate when yoga records fall. At least patch me through on a congratulatory phone call after they put the medal around his neck.
Initially my mind swirled down a quarantine rabbit hole. They make regular rabbit holes seem like mole hills by comparison. You know what I mean. There was no way I could get the record back. Mine was set at sea level or below, you don’t know in Venice. I can’t do it up here at 7,908. I’m five years older than the record-setting me was. Vijesh is a ripped professional yoga instructor from India who looks young enough to scare a boomer into buying a pair of black suede Adidas and a pair of Lululemon camo shorts.
And, just like that, the inner raja awoke! I can do this. I have what it takes. It’s a new purpose! Best of all, getting all competitive over yoga beats the shakra out of doing another jigsaw puzzle.
Roger Marolt is shavasanaing uneasily on the yoga mat of broken dreams. Email at [email protected].