A little yoga with Jonnie and Frankie


I'm 54 years old.

There, I said it. I'm six-foot, three-inches tall, too. My wife insists I'm 6'2" but she lives in Texas now so I don't give a crap. She's just trying to keep a man down.

I'm at my high school weight so that's a good thing. But the weight is distributed a little differently. That's not such a good thing, because my jeans don't stay up anymore and I'm holding my core in at 30%  as I walk per my physical therapist.

All this is leading to something.

I'm falling apart. 

I had a battle with vertigo a week ago Monday and ended up in the ER for about 3 hours trying not to yack.

Some nice Lee County EMS guys and a couple burly fireman had to help me out the damned door, where I proceeded to blow chow when they laid me on the gurney.

There were leaves on the ground so it's all good.

Now, that's subsided a bit, but I was doing some stretching Thursday night and got up too fast and got the spins again. I sat still and it went away pretty fast. I chuckled at the sensation, but wondered when those stupid crystals in my inner ear are going to settle down.

I can deal with the occasional spins. I had a CT scan and they said I was good. So I know there's a brain in there. The Jameson probably has taken a toll, but we're taking a break from that, too.

The one thing I can't seem to take a break from is the stretching. It feels too good.

I've been doing some yoga routines that my daughter sent me. It's part of a website called

This stuff is absolutely crazy, but addictive.

It's also disturbingly painful at my age. But my sincere hope is that it's only painful until it's not.

That may sound oxy-moronic, but I try to do some of these exercises and stretches, without any weights mind you, and I can literally hear myself "ughhhing".

I typically do a 15-minute warm-up, the same one each day, and then I pick another 15 minute routine to work on trouble areas, typically the IT band that runs down my butt.

I sit too much doing exactly what I'm doing now, and when I get up, I take about 10 steps and then this hot pain shoots down the right side of my butt and then goes away.

It's like a pesky friend that just shows up a couple times too often. Dude...what!

To fix this I'm supposed to cross my right leg over my left knee while I'm sitting down like a figure 4 and then pull my right knee toward my left shoulder. That's supposed to hurt, but it doesn't, so I improvise a bit and tuck my right heel in tight against my left hip.

Then I pull my knee as much toward my left shoulder as I can. Still not much of a stretch. So I lay down on the floor, cross my right leg over like a 4 and then grab my right  knee roll onto my left side and pull my knee as far up and across as I can. Geeeeezus.

Ahhhh....There it is.

This contortion is laughable if ever witnessed by humans, but since I only have a couple of parakeets at home that like to dive bomb me while I'm on the yoga mat... I'm just fine. One of these days they're gonna find that bad side of my Warrior pose.

The other day I picked a routine to strengthen the core and the arms. This crazy lady that weighs all of a buck o'nine sat with her legs crossed and demonstrated a move where you make a fist in both hands with your arms bent at 90 degree angles.

Try this.

Then you thrust your elbows back to your ribs, cross your arms in the next movement, uncross them in the next move, and then thrust your fists straight over your head into the air. Bring your elbows back down to your ribs  and repeat the sequence. You're also keeping your core tight by imagining your belly button retreating to your spine.

You do this 108 times. How the heck does she come up with 108!? At about 50 you feel like you're lifting a car, and at about 70 you lose count, then lose your mind.

Again... no weights. I'm exhausted, my arms burn, and abs are on fire. Then they talk about breathing. Thank God!

In with the good, through your nose and hold for a count of four, then out with the bad. I imagine the good as blue and white, clean, pure oxygen, and the bad, which is the exhale, as brown, green, and sludgy.

We won't talk about getting up off the floor after this 40 minute workout. (I added 10 for getting up off the floor). Suffice it to say I'm sure the birds, Frankie and Jonnie, are laughing as they look down from the curtain rods.

But here's the thing. It works. The back pain that riddled me for about six months is all but gone thanks to this crazy Jason James guy at James Healthcare in Keokuk, my daughter's torture rack yoga thrust moves, and something called Cat and Cow. Google it.

But as long as I can keep getting around to late night fires, basketball games, City Council meetings, and whatnot, I guess I'll continue with the 5,000-year-old workout routine.

There's peace that comes with it naturally because of the breathing mechanisms.

I just hope I don't get stuck in lotus with my phone out of reach. That could take more than a couple burly fireman to get out of.... but that's Beside the Point. Namaste!

Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at

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