September 28, 2004

Be a man!

I have joined the Men's Yoga Retreat at Kalani --- a week of men-only Yoga classes. Partner yoga, Kundalini, and more, including yoga on the beach. And some field trips too. So far, it's been hard but extremely enjoyable and strengthening --- and, while I love doing Yoga with my wife, it's very nice to be surrounded by more than a handful of people with hemstrings as inflexible as mine, and with similar strength and weight to assist me with poses. Most of the other participants in the group are guests, so I'm getting to meet a lot of neat people this way; and it's time off work.

But the weird thing is that Mulan plays in my mind all the time in these yoga classes...

There's this scene in Mulan where the men train for battle and sing...

Chien Po:
I'm never gonna catch my breath

Say good-bye to those who knew me

Boy I was a fool in school for cutting gym

(Be a man)
We must be swift as a coursing river
(Be a man)
With all the force of a great typhoon
(Be a man)
With all the strength of a raging fire
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon

There are definitely times when this song reflects how I feel. Though there's a reprise of this song at the end of the movie, when the men are dressed in drag... that might be more accurate as this is a Gay Men's Yoga retreat: just kidding --- it is indeed a Gay Men's Yoga retreat, but there's no cross-dressing. There is plenty of running around naked, though, especially doing nude yoga on the beach (which is a wonderfully serene experience with the ocean waves cleansing away all thought).

And, in case you are wondering, no it's not at all weird being straight and surrounded by gay men --- as long as we all know which team we're pitching for, there is clear and definite respect of boundaries, and no sexual overtones interfering with our athletic or spiritual activities. Ironically, last week, I found myself in a sort-of reverse situation, doing dolphin dance with 12 or so naked women and being one of two (also naked) men in that pool. There was definitely more tension in that setup, largely because some women tended to alter their dance movements as soon as they sensed that they were in contact with a man (we are more hairy and rough to the touch, so you can tell the gender even under water). On my part, either setting is the same: everyone knows I'm married (and I now appreciate having a wedding ring to make it bloody obvious), and I'm there for the activity, with all other participants being just fellow human beings --- the particulars such as gender are totally irrelevant. In fact, it would probably not have occured to me to even mention all this in this blog if it weren't for the few other straight guys in Kalani who exhibit a contrasting discomfort in similar settings.

Anyway, Christine and I shared a very cool experience on Sunday: a first course in sign language. John is a deaf volunteer (he can read lips), and taught an introductory course to the volunteers; it was wonderful, and absolutely fun. An FAQ: sign language is not the same across countries (and spoken languages): signs are often made with the hand spelling the first letter of the signed word (which varies across spoken languages), and some signs have strong cultural ties (e.g. the sign for "boy" is touching the tip of an invisible baseball cap... not all countries have baseball).

And the coolest of all experience so far in Kalani was yesterday afternoon: I swam with dolphins. Real dolphins. They were sighted off the nearby beach and I hopped on the first ride I could find, went there, waited for any partner to show up and join me for the swim into the open water (see, the water was choppy and the surf was quite rough, and I had promised Christine I'd be safe), and then swam and waited... I could hear them talking in the water, and sometimes I'd see bubbles rise up from the bottom, but it took some time till they came up to breathe. There weren't that many of them (just four of five, including a baby), but they were so beautiful, sleek, and graceful that it was thoroughly mesmerizing being just 6-7 feet away from them. Even if it was just for a few seconds each time. I'm so glad I went as soon as I heard they were here because as soon as I returned to the beach, they had left; and they did not return today. I'm just sad Christine was working and wasn't able to join me; then again, the water was so rough that she wouldn't have enjoyed it as much (despite being a strong swimmer, she tenses up in rough water).

Posted by Toli at September 28, 2004 07:21 PM

tilo! what's all this nonsense about running around nekkid? keep your clothes on! :)

luff you!

Posted by: bibi at September 29, 2004 10:59 AM

How lovely that I can read this on a regular basis and share your adventures in a vicarious manner! How can I get into the archives?!?!
Hugs, hugs and more hugs.

Posted by: Michael at September 30, 2004 01:13 AM

OK, found the archives but now I need your address....I don't want to "post" all the boring stuff about getting pissed on UA's champers after they upgraded me...the poor Chinese chappie beside me got quite an ear-full when I upgraded him from gentle classics to raucous rock....note to UA 'Don't put the consoles so close together....leads leprechauns into mischief.' A hui hou.
p.s. the cd plays fine on this but not at home on my I have to hula in my office?!

Posted by: Michael at September 30, 2004 01:32 AM

Spectacular pictures. Daring adventures. Lovely couple. Thank you for sharing the journey with us.

On the northshore of Lake Tahoe, we are enjoying a second "winter" snowstorm. For those who know the Tahoe mountains, the ski season has begun at Boreal and Mt. Rose.

From 6200 ft. above sea level,

Mary Gallagher
Writing Consultant

Posted by: Mary Gallagher at October 26, 2004 01:14 AM

Toli, You crack me up. I can just picture you with all those gay guys. Bed you didn't know I was a lifetime Nudest!
You guys are the greatest.

Posted by: joyce & Mac at December 2, 2004 11:45 PM
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