Lots of amazing things have originated in Japan: Toyotas. Sushi. Sudoku. Godzilla. But the latest “amazing” import from Japan has me nervous. It’s a book written by a yoga teacher promising that just about anybody can do the splits.
Like most men, being able to do the splits is nowhere near the top of my list. In fact, when I see someone else do it I tend to wince, but maybe that’s a guy thing.
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I’m not even sure why anyone would want to intentionally do the splits unless, perhaps, they plan to go into a career of professional cheerleading. But being able to do the splits, the book contends, can lead to weight loss, improved balance, injury prevention and peace of mind.
The book’s title is “Even the Stiffest People Can Do the Splits: A 4-Week Stretching Plan to Achieve Amazing Health.” It’s already sold a million copies over there — many of them to senior citizens — and recently has been released in this country. So it’s probably only a matter of time until my worst nightmare will be realized and it will fall into the hands of my wife, adding fuel to her campaign to make me more flexible.
Just yesterday morning, for instance, she came into the bedroom while I was getting dressed.
“What’s all the moaning and groaning in here?” she demanded.
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“I’m putting on my socks,” I explained.
“You really need to start taking yoga classes to improve your flexibility,” she said.
She had a point, I suppose, because my feet do seem to be a lot further away from my hands than they used to be. But I tried yoga a few years ago on a scenic beach in Florida and it took me a month to recover. And I’m still trying to erase the memory of attempting an exercise called “backward dog,” which involves kneeling, extending one arm forward, one leg backward and ended with me toppling sideways into the scenic sand.
So I’m not very optimistic about being able to survive the four weeks of exercising that lead to the ability to do the splits. One requires lying on your back, pulling your outstretched leg backwards with a towel and bouncing. Another involves something called a “legs-spread sumo stretch.” According to the book’s author, “The pain eventually goes away,” but I don’t find that very encouraging. I guess a lot depends on one’s definition of “eventually.”
But even supposing I do make it through the exercise and reach the ultimate goal of being able to do the splits, I even an ever greater concern.
How long will it take for the emergency squad to arrive and get me back up again?