“Bend Over for Mama,” by Diane Callahan

Aug 8th, 2018 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

Usually, I can escape unwanted situations with some degree of finesse. Other times, I am as graceful and articulate as a toddler, particularly when my mother is involved.

When my mom asked if I’d like a ten-session yoga pass for my birthday, I responded with a garbled, “Uhhh, not really, but thanks.” She interpreted this to mean “Yes, of course. I would be delighted to partake in mind-numbing torture at your fine training establishment.”

And that’s how I ended up dragging my feet to 75 ½ excruciating minutes of trying not to fart while stretching my body in ways that would inspire a priest to conduct an exorcism.

“It will help you achieve inner balance,” mom assures me, though the only balance I want to find is between sleeping and eating.

During sun salutations, I reach my arms to the heavens and ignore the snap-crackle-pop of every joint in my apparently 90-year-old body. Yoga is meant to improve one’s flexibility, but I have little interest in becoming an abominable circus carny. I’m already a freak for being able to shove my feet behind my head (not as sexy as it sounds); if I suddenly learned to walk with my hands through my legs, I can only imagine my husband curling into the fetal position, kept awake for days by brain-searing nightmares.

This routine features a menagerie of poses: upward and downward dogs, lowering your back like a cow, arching it like a cat. A more accurate cat pose, in my opinion, would involve lying on your side and alternately asking for food and biting the hand that brings it to you.

The cruelest part is the silence. It’s as if a higher being, envisioning some form of purgatory, had said, “Hmm, yoga. That’ll do.” Maybe it’s problematic that I get easily bored when left inside my own head, but I can’t stop myself from wishing I could invent tiny screens for behind my eyelids so that I could read a book or do literally anything else.

“Time for Savasana,” the instructor says, in nearly perfect Parseltongue.

“What does that mean?” I whisper to my mom.

“Corpse Pose.”

I squint at her. “You’re sick.”

I let my body hug the floor like a drunk, my muscles melting into meaty Silly Putty. Lying in Corpse Pose is like, well, being a corpse. No worries. No responsibilities. Free is the mind from thoughts of nuclear war and unfinished grocery lists. Then an infinite loop of “Gotta get down on Friday!” starts in my head, annihilating all tranquility.

Yoga has its truly good moments, though—such as when class ends. Namaste.


Diane Callahan enjoys thinking about writing fantasy and sci-fi stories. She hosts a YouTube channel called Quotidian Writer, providing advice to those who also aspire to think about writing novels.


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