Yoga? No, Shmoga!: Intro

Yoga? No! Shmoga!

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In the long history of trying to keep fit, there have been many exercises, stretches, movements, and sports. All have had the same goal: to make you better than you were. To give you flexibility, strength, and coordination. There are so many variations of the martial arts that schools have sprung up in countries and continents as diverse as China, India, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and South America. From ancient yoga to the modern tai bo, trainers have asked for your money in exchange for learning their methods. We have all seen old people in China lining up in parks to practice tai chi. We have seen Steven Seagal breaking arms with his aikido; Jean-Claude Van Damme doing his Muay Thai kicking to bring down saplings. We’ve watched karate masters, judo, jujitsu, kung fu, chi gung, taekwondo, kendo. We’ve all known someone who has discovered the latest yoga fad—be it Hatha, Vinyasa, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Jivmukti. In the end, it gets confusing and even crippling, with hundreds of positions to master, and every one of them supposedly good for you. But the plain fact is: other than the ones where you move your eyeballs left or right, they aren’t easy to do, and they hurt. The body isn’t meant to be bent like a pretzel. The legs aren’t built to wrap around your own neck. Your arms aren’t long enough to touch the palms of your hands to the floor without bending your knees. Sure, you can learn to do this with a lot of agonizing practice. But why? Are you going to outlive the Russian peasant who eats yogurt every day? Or the French farmer who drinks his bottle of red wine? Probably not. Are you going to feel better because you can scratch your middle back with your little finger? Not likely.

With the advent of the satellite dish and cable, with hundreds of channels to watch on your TV, there really isn’t that much free time to devote to going to the gym or to yoga classes or to your local dojo. But we do know if you just sit on your couch or in your Lazy-Boy or massage chair drinking beer and chewing on candy bars and trail mix, you’re only going to encourage your fat cells to expand. Something should be done to combat horizontal fatigue, but it doesn’t have to be strenuous. You don’t have to lift weights, or pull chest springs, or squeeze sorbathane balls. For those of you who feel the need to do something, but not overexert yourself or work up a smelly sweat, there’s Shmoga.  The discipline for those of us who have wasted enough money on treadmills, stationary bikes, barbells, abdominal machines and Krav Maga classes.  If you’re sick and tired of being barked at by some trainer with six-pack abs and cotton in his brain; if you’re positive that strenuous exercise will only lead to muscle strain and crippling doctor bills; if your knees are telling you not to screw around with them; if you’ve ever pulled a groin muscle, or any other muscle, reaching deep for that frozen pizza in the back of the freezer, then Shmoga may be the answer to your question: isn’t there anything out there that can help me without hurting me?  Isn’t there some damn pill I can take to keep me fit?

The answer to the first question is yes, and it’s Shmoga.  The answer to the second is no, and that’s why there is Shmoga. If there was a pill, you wouldn’t need Shmoga. But there isn’t. There might be (see “2015: The Year Shmoga is Acknowledged as the Forerunner of the Future”); but not yet. So let’s get real.

What is Shmoga?

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