i'm in my yoga class, bent over at the waist with my arms and legs pushing away from each other, assuming the position known as downward dog. As instructed, my gaze falls back toward my toes, and there, framed between my legs, is the most luscious pair of breasts I've seen since last week's episode of Fashion Television.
Coaxed by gravity, these pretty pink melons strain to escape their lycra enclosure, and all I can think is, where are all the straight guys?
Although originally a gender-neutral endeavour, yoga in North America has, for whatever reason, come to be regarded as a woman's activity. Not macho enough for men, I guess, who would apparently rather confirm their masculinity by pumping iron in front of each other. But guys, I'm here to tell ya, you're missing out.
I admit that most of the time I'm too focused on my own practice to be worried about the heat coming off my neighbour's mat. Still, each class affords me opportunities to feast my eyes on the wonders that yoga does for the female figure. "Lithesome" should be a four-letter word. There was never a "pigeon" so sexy as the Elle MacPherson look-alike two mats over who pushes her chest toward the ceiling and arches her head back far enough to touch her tiny, perfect foot. Sigh.
A recent survey of my yoga studio revealed a decided absence of wedding rings on the fingers of the svelte and supple. A typical class of 20 might yield anywhere from two to four men, half of whom will be gay. That's pretty good odds for the straight guys, who invariably spend the minutes immediately after class being chatted up by interested women encouraging or admiring their progress.
Whether these vertical conversations lead to horizontal manoeuvres I can't say for sure, but the hetero male regulars in my classes rarely want for female attention.
From a woman's point of view, straight guys taking yoga are automatically seen as more highly evolved than their Neanderthal brethren grunting and pitching dumbbells in the free-weight room. Taking yoga instantly denotes SNAG status (sensitive New Age guy). And men, at least in the initial stages of their practice, are generally less flexible than women, which serves to heighten the female sense of empathy.
That yoga's benefits go way beyond the social will be icing on your cake. Not only are you bound to score a date for Saturday night, but you'll undoubtedly look and feel better when you get there, too, the result of yoga's amazing strengthening and toning properties.
Some of the postures may look easy, but boys, don't kid yourselves. Last week after some intense quadriceps stretches, my instructor bid us to lie flat on our backs with our legs straight up in the air at 90 degrees. Sounds simple enough. But as the guru counted off the five slow, deep breaths through which we're required to sustain poses, my legs started to shake like bridge supports in a California quake. Another pose finds us sitting up tall with our legs straight out in front of us. "Now lift your heels six inches off the ground," says the instructor. My quads are burning within seconds.
Although yoga's not supposed to be competitive or comparative, I admit I sniggered recently when a muscle-bound buck ventured into the gym for his first, and no doubt last, yoga class. Poor sod, he could barely touch his toes. He lasted 20 minutes before turning his mat in along with his dignity. Typical male, I guess, he figured if he couldn't do it right he wouldn't do it at all. But that kind of thinking misses the point of yoga entirely. It's not an all-or-nothing discipline; yoga is about making small, incremental improvements.
I was unbelievably stiff when I started taking the free classes at my gym two years ago. But the effect on my posture was so profound and so immediate that I kept going back. Within a few weeks I'd made some progress; after a few months I was proudly soaking up compliments from women impressed by my increasing flexibility.
And at age 40 my sex drive is peaking -- could it be all those hip and pelvic-floor openers?
Since then I've graduated to a professional yoga studio and from classic hatha yoga to the faster, stronger ashtanga. My love handles are gone, my abs and butt are taut, and I can assume positions I never dreamed possible. Just imagine what the women can do. Now imagine yourself underneath one of them.
Guys, here's a resolution for you. Get thee to a yoga class.
Now that we've kissed 2002 goodbye, we're all looking for new ways to get inspired. NOW's Resolutions Guide surveys hundreds of strategies for feeding your mind, body and soul. Compiled by Lesley McAllister