The Boyfriend of the Week


July 31, 2000

I had originally planned to run an entirely different person this week (after putting him off last week, too), but once again, that future Boyfriend's "It" position was usurped at the last minute by another. And the weird thing is, the Boy Usurper is someone I'd bet a good 95% of you have never even heard of (whereas the Boy Usurped is someone you would've not only recognized immediately, but have written me lengthy emails of praise about as well).

Sometimes I just have to go with my heart, though, and not with popular opinion. Not that I actually ever go with popular opinion (I'm still hearing about Tommy Lee Jones from people). But this week's Boyfriend, whose name, by the way, is Steve Ross, is going to enlighten you in more ways than one. And enlightenment is a good thing. In fact, it's what you all come here for anyway, right?

First, let me tell you who he is. Steve Ross is a yoga instructor. Actually, in a way, he's MY yoga instructor. Now, Steve has been teaching yoga for about seventeen years, but I'd never heard of him or seen him or anything'd him until about 10 days ago when I happened to be flipping around channels on tv in the early morning and I stumbled across a yoga show on the new Oxygen channel. Wow! I said. A yoga show -- hot damn!

You see, I started doing yoga seriously (meaning, longer than five minutes a day, more often than twice a week) about nine months ago when I read an article that said people with carpal tunnel syndrome who did yoga experienced a lessening of pain in equivalence to those who wore braces at night. Since I loathe my braces, I thought I ought to give it a shot. (In case you're lost because you haven't been my fan for very long, I have pretty bad CTS in both wrists/hands and had surgery a couple of years ago that failed miserably). What I used to learn yoga initially were the tapes from Yoga Journal (especially the "Strength" and "Flexibility" ones). They are challenging and mellow and, essentially, really great. But also kind of boring. While I like the idea of being really quiet while I hold a pose (or attempt to!), I also kind of wished the instructors were more excited to be there. Know what I mean?

So, I was already in the market for a change of scenery when I stumbled across the show on Oxygen (which is called "Inhale," by the way). I watched it for about ten minutes and knew after only that long that it was the program for me. Why? Cuz:

Steve's yoga instruction method goes like this: play cool music in the background and crack jokes the whole time. Tell your students they're doing great and then make fun of them (but gently and in good spirit) when they start to goof off. For example: "We obviously don't share the same definition of the word 'slow,'" he'll say, when the class is doing it's umpteenth lowering from the plank pose (like the down part of a push-up) and just doesn't have the strength left for going really slowly. Or, "I'm seeing lots of interesting variations on this. Yes, that variation is VERY interesting," when he's attempting to get the class to do something that, I swear, is just ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE and so we're all trying but totally goofing it up.

By the way, yes I am using "we" to describe the class despite the fact they are actually there with him and I am a zillion miles away and watching it on television. But you guys already knew that I converse freely with people on television all the time, right (well, "converse" might be the wrong word)? I even talk to Steve during the class. He says, "Now, lift up onto your fingertips and swing your legs through your arms to come to a sitting position," and I say right back to him, "Hah! Just trrrrrry and make me, Steve!" I'll even go so far as to say that, in some ways, talking to people on television is a lot more satisfying than talking to real people. But that's a discussion for another time.

Anyway, Steve and I obviously share the same view on yoga -- yes, it's great for your mind. It's soothing (even when your muscles are burning) and it encourages your mind to let go of the world and just hang loose. But, and this is the key, it's also really, really fun! Steve's big into encouraging students to modify poses that are killing them so that they aren't as difficult. Challenge yourself, but don't hurt yourself, he says. It's supposed to be enjoyable, not torturous. I especially appreciate this philosophy towards the end of the hour when my arms start shaking from fatigue and the thought of doing one more lunge makes my thighs want to leap off my body and run away screaming. (Do not yell "Wuss!" until you've done an hour yourself, pal.)

I also love it when I'm trying a new pose and having a really hard time with it (so I'm concentrating extremely hard) and then right as I get my balance, Steve says something that makes me laugh so hard I fall over (it doesn't take much, actually). It happens to his students on the show, too, and he loves it. They all love it. Plus, when he does the poses as well (sometimes he does and sometimes he gets up and walks around looking at the class instead), he's just amazing to watch. Amazing and inspirational. I honestly had no idea that body part could bend in that direction.

Oh, and did I mention he's really really cute? The pictures above don't really do him justice (in fact, that pastel one is just plain goofy). You should try to catch a glimpse of the show sometime just so you can see that grin in action. Plus, his voice -- I just LOVE listening to him talk. At the end of the show, during the "Big Relax" as Steve calls it, he often talks through the whole thing -- telling stories about his experiences with yogis in India or educating the class on something (like using mantras, for example). While I think under different circumstances I would find it hard to really relax when someone was talking, I can totally zone out to Steve's voice (while processing what he's saying at the same time).

Man, wouldn't it be great to be Steve's girlfriend? That voice could be the first thing you hear every morning when you wake up! Actually, since the show is on at 6am, it pretty much IS the first thing I hear every morning when I wake up. But you know what I mean.

Now let me tell you what doing yoga regularly has done for me. I can sum it up in one sentence, actually: Dude, I am SO BUFF. Yoga is not only great for your mind, but it's KILLER for your body. I'm twice as strong as when I started, and my balance is just awe-inspiring (to me, anyway). At the beginning, I could hardly hold any position for more than a few seconds, now I can stand on one leg for hours if I have to. My legs are incredibly strong and I've gone from only being able to do push-ups with my knees bent to being able to do them with my legs straight. That's a big deal! No, really, it is!

Plus, yoga makes you think about your body in an entirely different way. Instead of focusing on losing weight or adding those extra ten laps to your routine, you start thinking about that really cool position Steve can do that you can't. And then you can't wait to get home so you can start working on it. The first time I got my head off the floor when I was practicing backbends (which was, I'm happy to say, exactly six days ago), I almost started crying. Granted, I can't keep my head off the floor for more than about ten seconds, but who knew a girl with a bad lower back and two bad wrists would EVER be able to get into that position?

Oh, I know who knew -- Steve did! It's so nice having a Boyfriend who believes in you.

The only bad Steve-related news I got I got today when I was researching him on the web. You see, I had this secret desire to be the only serious Steve Ross devotee on the planet. But it turns out he's this famous Los Angeles yogi that everybody knows about. He was even described in Vanity Fair as "the guru of L.A."! I will reveal to you all this very embarrassing truth: that totally bummed me out. He's not all mine! I wanted him to be all mine!

But, when I get home tonight and pop in the tape (I tape the episodes in the morning and do them in the evenings), Steve and I will be reunited for an hour. It'll just be me, him, and a room full of some pretty hip people. Steve will make me laugh and sweat and push myself. And at the end when we're doing the Big Relax, I will not only be tired, I'll be a little bit stronger, a little bit calmer, and a lot of bit happier. And that's why Steve Ross is my Boyfriend this week.

MacGyver Factor Score: 99.1%. Pretty high score for a guy I only met a week or so ago, huh? But I'm telling you people -- there is something really special about Steve Ross. And yoga. Now, a warning is in order: if you're a complete beginner, I wouldn't recommend his show to you. But if you sorta know what you're doing and you can hold that downward-facing dog (ruff!) long and often, you should check his show out. Otherwise, just tune in for the last ten minutes and mello out with us instead. You won't be sorry. I promise!

This Week's Boyfriend-Related Links:

Inhale's Oxygen Web Site.
Steve's Web Page.
The Yoga Journal Site.
Thrive's Yoga Page.

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