A friend of mine who complains prolifically about yoga — and especially people professing the cure-all health benefits of yoga — likes to call the difficult poses we yogis attempt “Stupid Human Tricks.”
Yep, just like Dave Letterman's famous segment, but without the Velcro.
Thus when I'm at a yoga class and a teacher is bending and twisting us toward that one big, “peak” pose, I can't help but think that we're all about to work ourselves into the day's Stupid Human Trick.
(Grammar matters here, just like “Let's eat, Grandma!” is not the same as “Let's eat grandma.” In this case, just for clarification, the tricks are stupid, not the humans, so no hyphen. Wait. I think that's what she means...)

So I was at a yoga class the other day, trying to get my shoulders behind my knees so I could balance on my hands with my legs over my shoulders, feet sticking out in front of me, but my hamstrings fought back, so I kept rolling back onto my rear end, when finally the teacher said with a chuckle: "Why we do this, I don't know." He grinned and shrugged, and everyone in the room who had looked frustrated before melted a little and smiled.

Still, this human had to give some thought to why we perform tricks.


Some do it for concentration: If you can focus long and hard enough to pull off one of these difficult poses, you can focus at difficult times in your life, too. Others do it for the personal challenge: "Can my body do this? Can my mind talk my body into doing this?" Often, the axiom is true, and you are stronger than you think you are. The Stupid Human-Trick is fooling you. Or perhaps you are fooling yourself.

At a class earlier in the week, I'd spent a good amount of time trying to balance a sweaty leg on my tricep and balance on my hands in a different way. I kept falling. There is no way to fall gracefully when your face is inches off the floor and your legs and arms are pretzeled. Why do this? Because there is no room for thought other than "breathe, try," and when you fall, "ha! This is ridiculous." It's perseverance, presence and joy, all pretzeled into one trick for one human at one moment in time.

Accomplishing that? That is a good trick.

-- Jenn Fields