Friday. Yoga. Beer.

January 29 2016

It’s Friday afternoon. I spent the morning in Bikram yoga (only, they don’t call it Bikram anymore), sweating. Afterward, I scanned my local Facebook group for news of any new beer releases. I made a salad for lunch. I drank some coffee. I read over a talk I’m scheduled to give at a major university in a few weeks. I clocked myself at 35 minutes.

I am the chair of a small department focused on writing and rhetoric. I try to do yoga twice a week. I go to the gym the other days. For 90 minutes in a yoga class, I sweat. The studio air smells of sweat. The changing room smells of sweat. I earned my PhD in Gainesville, Florida, a city I remember mainly for the amount of sweating I did there.

For many academics, the six years to tenure is one of metaphoric sweating. To get tenure in a research university, we write. My talk is about writing and craft beer. I’ve reached the highest rank possible as professor. We call that rank: full. It’s a Friday afternoon, I drank my coffee. Ate a salad. Read over a talk. I feel full. I feel full not because of food, exercise, or hearing the sound of my own voice for 35 minutes as if I were speaking to a room of other academics. I feel full in general.

It’s Friday afternoon. We have a debate on a local Facebook group about whether or not the local market is “too full” for any new craft beer bars or breweries. My five year old son takes an hour to eat one hot dog, and without finishing, declares: “I’m full.” Academics across my Facebook feed post daily complaints about the world: the economy, the Republicans, the Middle East, education, their own lives. Backchannel – among other friends – we accuse them of being “full of it.”

Three years ago, when I first started what we used to call Bikram Yoga, I was advised to not eat too much before a class. “You don’t want to be full when you do yoga,” I was told. Bikram, the accusations claim, was too full of sexual ego. Studios dropped his name from their mastheads in response to allegations of sexual misconduct. He was written out of yoga.

I am full in general. I belong to a profession that, at times, feels dedicated to complaining. These complaints include: “it’s too difficult to be a professor; no one ever talks about X, this political position is wrong, if only X didn’t happen, there wouldn’t be conflict in Y country.” Academics raised on reading novels and writing essays, it seems, know it all. Have a problem? No sweat. The professor will solve it. She’ll write about it online.

I don’t do yoga to solve any problem other than the back ache that plagued me for maybe 20 years. I hid my back pain in order to serve in an infantry unit. I hid my back pain in order to do difficult work in agriculture. But my pain did not hide from me. I was full of so much pain one Chicago summer that I could barely move. I went to yoga for no reason other than to learn to stretch in a hot, sweaty room for 90 minutes. And it worked.

It’s Friday afternoon. I’m writing about my day for no reason other than to stretch some thoughts about writing, yoga, beer, and a profession I am, at times, too full of.

Jeff Rice
[email protected]
Lexington, KY

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