Yoga for knuckleheads in Morro Bay

February 10, 2023

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.


As a man well into his 70s, I was forced into yoga after I’d made fun of it and mocked its culture and what I deemed false spiritualism for those desperate enough to stuff anything into the emptiness of their unsatisfied lives.

Years back, at the gym I once belonged to, yoga was hugely popular, and consisted mostly of women of all ages enthralled with lissome-legged young lady instructors who could change their lives. At this time, I published a monthly 24-page literary journal and introduced a column under the pen name of Talmadge Jarratee that was titled, “A View from the Stationary Bike.”

When none of the female instructors would give an interview and seemed to snub Jarratee as a nuisance and potentially a plague, he accused yoga of not being from India, but instead a derivative of the primal scream created in Malibu by sexy movie star Dyan Cannon.

Jarratee was later accused of being a sexist, misogynist, chauvinist, creep; and eventually the stationary bike he pedaled was moved to an area as far from the yoga studio as possible, a sort of gym Siberia.

Well, Jarratee continued his attack on yoga, claiming it was run by mercenary billionaire predators driving luxury cars and living in Beverly Hills mansions; and it wasn’t long before he’d been confronted by yoga members and caused a near insurrection as irate ladies accused me, Dell Franklin, of actually being Talmadge Jarratee, which I denied, of course. I was also accused of being a “monster.”

When almost all of these ladies trooped to the little studio to yoga classes, I was scowled at as a pariah.

Later, to their relief, the recession hit and the monthly alternative paper sadly expired, though Jarratee, now switched to Mahoud Mahoud, resumed “A View From the Stationary Bike” on a blog that swung so wide and wild it eventually led to his termination from the gym after nearly a hundred members, all women, threatened to quit if the sight of Mahoud Mahoud (a doctor of anthropology and volunteer at an animal shelter) on his usual stationary bike was not vanished for good!

So now I had nowhere to go three days a week at 9 o’clock in the morning and get my workout and create mischief. I was lost. I disclosed this personal vacuum to my tennis partner, Ethan, who, along with his wife, Contessa, had practiced yoga for decades, the two of them capable of contorting themselves into pretzels and even attending yoga retreats where they consumed hummus and vegan fare, all of which I derided with sardonic glee.

Then one Saturday morning, when the courts were wet, and we had to wait for them to dry off, Ethan challenged me to join him at yoga, and since I had nothing else to do, I followed him into the hallowed yoga studio where, among several other yoga fanatics who came with their own mats, I was introduced to Gloria, local yoga guru, who smiled and welcomed me and advised me not to try and complete the really difficult poses, because this was a fairly advanced class.

I was handed a mat and blanket.

Right off, I was disoriented and spent the time becoming increasingly confused as the instructor protruded one leg and I protruded the wrong leg.

At first, the poses were simple and easy, but still, I felt myself quivering and aching, and sweating profusely. Soon, the poses—pigeon, turtle, etc—became grueling, brutal, excruciating—but I tried to hang, and found myself moaning and drooling like a dog being tortured by a cruel master.

Beside me, Ethan and Contessa were squatting while balanced on only their toes, legs coiled into bodies, like something you’d see at a freak show at a country fair. I fell on my ass in a state of utter collapse, defeated, panting, drooling, sweat popping out of my forehead…I was slaughtered, drained, humiliated.

Mercifully, it ended. I was embarrassed at rolling up the soggy mat as the sweet and understanding guru instructor, who had repeatedly helped me, claimed, “You did very well for a first time, and at your age! But I think you might try beginner’s yoga, Dell. Stay with it! It will help you immensely. You were wonderful!”

I felt she was bullshitting me, conning me like any ordinary business person for future membership money, but what I eventually realized is that yoga people are merciful, helpful, spiritual, and not obsessed with greed and aggressive competition.

Ahhh, they don’t make fun of people. They won’t even make fun of an obvious asshole like myself, pretty much a clown all his life who makes it a policy to make fun of everybody and everything.

Later that morning, the courts had dried and I felt unbelievably nimble and spry as I hit the ball with Ethan. I felt rejuvenated. I was not one bit tired. My hip wasn’t torturing me as much and loosened up.

So I took up yoga at the yoga center in Morro Bay, as a beginner. Ethan said it would salvage my right hip, which doctors had tried to convince me needed replacing, and I could continue to play tennis without limping around like a dog on only three legs.

Stay tuned.

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One of the biggest controversies I’ve ever stirred up in the circles I run in, was in 2013 when I posted my thoughts on yoga to a popular social media site. One of those “Hey here’s a funny thought I had jokes” that I also earnestly believe

“Yoga is the tribal tattoo of exercise. If we’re not actually practicing Hindus, or at the very least descendants of Hinduism, maybe we should just call it “Stretching”.”

I had not appreciated how fervently people could defend something they don’t actually believe in.

I find it difficult to respect magical thinking. Most especially the magical thinking of religion. However, if someone wears a hair shirt, beats themself with chains on a Ashura march or really any form of self-flagellation that draws blood I find it difficult not to respect their willingness to do the hard parts

I respect even less the people who pick and choose the parts they like while discarding the hard parts.

How impressed will god, or any of the hundreds of white men in funny hats surrounding him in heaven really be when you stand at the Pearly Gates and tell him “Well let’s see, I smoked like a Rasta, I relaxed like a Buddha, …and uh oh yeah I stretched like a Hindu, but that was more of like a vanity project, really”