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Did I just join a cult?

Ballet has sort of fallen to the wayside. It happened after Christmas. With a break that long, I never really got back into the routine of going. No matter. I wasn't exactly looking forward to the recital at the end of the year. I could see my proud sister in the front row pointing me out to the person next to her: "The 35-year-old in the back--that one's mine!"

I didn't completely forego exercise though. (It's difficult to do that anyway with me averaging about 4 miles of walking a day).I decided to make use of the yoga studio near my apartment. They offered me a free trial class, so I went. But it was a little different than what I expected.

The first red flag was that no one brought their own mat or towels. They were in, "Come on and take this one! I'm all done!" says the hairy-backed barefoot man making his way to his feet. I could practically see the ringworm and bacteria embedded in the sweat-drenched fibers. The second thing I noticed was that everyone was wearing white--everyone.

I, apparently, didn't get the memo and was wearing a red top with black bottoms. Nevertheless, everyone was friendly. They asked my name and welcomed me pretty warmly.

I decided to go ahead and use the mat and just shower vigorously when I got home. When in Rome, right? I sat in the usual yoga position, stretching my limbs a little and waiting for class to start. An older man with wild gray hair came in after a short while and sat facing us, obviously the teacher.

With no introduction or greeting, he delved into what I thought was going to be the first of many yoga directives. Not so. Instead, he began to sing....and so did everyone else. Soon, I was surrounded by a circle of white-clad barefoot and singing "yogis," and it was precisely then that I thought: I think I've joined a cult.

Once the singing subsided and we started on the actual physical work, it became clear why there was no hesitation about sharing mats for fear of ringworm. There was absolutely no risk of sweat at all. For an hour we "worked out" by pounding the floor with our palms, slapping our bottoms, and flapping our arms. At one point, we assumed a position on all fours--not that unusual in yoga--and then stuck out our tongues to pant like dogs---VERY unusual in yoga. And, let me tell you, if the sight of 20 reasonable looking adults panting like dogs on a summer day didn't strike you, the halitosis that filled that small studio would have, like a slap! I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

I am glad to say, however, that I have had some really great adventures over the past few months. Since our October trip to Switzerland, we have visited England, France, Morocco, and Iceland. And everywhere I go, I realize more and more that the U.S.'s biggest export and most significant contribution to the world is entertainment. We, far and away, produce the highest quality of film, theatre, and music than anyone else. That hit home pretty hard one day on the metro when I saw a billboard for a Spanish theatre play called Menopause: The Musical. What in the world could that be like set to music??

At any rate, I am starting to feel my year coming to an end, and I am missing Spain already. But I am very much looking forward to some good old-fashioned American Southern cooking! (Hint, hint, Mommy!)

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