The Road to Wellness: Soviet Yoga Euphemisms

The Road to Wellness* is one man’s journey to win the Wellness Challenge, become Well,** and take home $100 in the process. In part one, I got a pedicure, petted some cacti and walked the dish.*

The reason I didn’t mention why exactly Sen. Warma and I are attempting to win the Wellness Challenge yesterday is because we don’t need the competition. In large part, we’re in this for the money. That’s right, money. $100 to first place, $75 to second, and $50 to first. Cash rewards are DoublePlusWell! It’s ok to say it today because if you missed anything, you have no hope of catching us. Buwahaha! Without further ado, back on the Road to Wellness.

14. Puppy/Kitten Study Break

Another day of Well-fest ’10 began around 12:30 in the afternoon, as Sen. Warma and I donated $2 to Pets in Need, a local animal shelter and were thus given permission to walk around with one of the dogs, Flick (if you want to adopt him/her, or another dog go here). While none of the cats were out due to the weather (it wasn’t rain–cats are waterproof–evidently it was too cold). It was also disappointing that there were no weiner dogs or weiner dogs dressed as giraffes. I’m just saying, that would have been cool.

In any case, ASSU Exec David Gobaud was nice enough to gather one for us and take a few pictures. For the rest of our photos at the dog fest, look herehereherehere, and here.

[![]( "Three Amigos 1")](
Three Wellness Pals, from left to right: ASSU Exec David Gobaud (with Flick), me, and ASSU Senator Zachary Warma
Though it was cold, Sen. Warma had his liquid coat on, so he could have been bitterer. I’d put him at a [Eulace Peacock](, “The World’s Fastest Human,” who regularly beat Jesse Owens in the 1930s, but then missed his chance to win a Gold Medal in Berlin and show up Adolph Hitler because he pulled his hamstring. Besides, even bitter people who have had their dreams crushed have to admit to liking puppies. He looks pretty happy in this one:

15. Look in the mirror and tell yourself something positive

“You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.” Thanks again, Sen. Franken (D-MN).

16. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables

This required going out of my way to the meat-free zone that is Columbae for dinner, but I pulled it off. Never again.

17. Make a list of 10 things that you are thankful for

  1. The Official Wellness Girlfriend
  2. That they cured polio, dysentery, Yellow and Scarlet Fever, and anything else that an intrepid adventurer crossing the Oregon Trail might encounter
  3. Listicles
  4. Peppy music
  5. Because I got that B roll
  6. Xena, Warrior Princess
  7. Weiner dogs
  8. Rod Blagojevich
  9. Jeopardy, Celebrity Jeopardy
  10. How cool smoking looks

18. Fred Luskin’s talk

Fred Luskin is the director of the Stanford Forgiveness Projects, so 30-40 people made their way to Mudd to hear him drop knowledge. He is most renowned for his work on forgiveness, but tonight he spoke about stress and happiness, and all that good stuff.. He spoke for an hour, but for the reader on the go, the talk can be boiled to a few points. Also, he sounds like Woody Allen, who may be the most negative and neurotic person of the last century, which makes his uniformly positive and self-assured message slightly jarring.

As is the case with much mental health stuff at Stanford, there is an underlying assumption (an altogether accurate one, in my opinion) that everything is more or less going your way, so you should try to appreciate it. He used the word “savor” a lot. Savor when you get an “A.” Savor when you make a good friend. Don’t always put it behind you and try to move onto something bigger and better without first appreciating what you’ve accomplished.

The thing about this is that perhaps “happiness” is not the best word for what he was describing. The idea isn’t so much to be experiencing exultant joy as general contentedness. The thing about this is that the quickest way to vague pleasure is to lower expectations. One study that inquired into why Denmark is often the happiest country drew the conclusion that Danes are simply pleased to find that “not everything is getting more rotten in the state of Denmark.” That was the general vibe I got, in that it can be exceedingly helpful to have perspective, especially at Stanford where everything is in fact awesome. It is. Quit complaining about midterms.

Also, he made the point that we should focus on good things. Good friends, good lovers (he used the word “lover” quite a bit. The Official Wellness Girlfriend’s title will not be changed to The Official Wellness Lover.) Good things are good. He had us do an exercise where we imagined someone we love. He pointed out that this was the quickest way to move into a positive frame of mind. Make of that what you will. Positive > Negative, so this is useful stuff.

All in all, Fred “Bizarro Woody Allen” Luskin’s talk was simple (or at least it seemed that way–this is a good thing, by the way) and useful. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of how to do something. The clock was nearing 8:30. Time to go to the Sanctuary on the third floor of Old Union and do some Yoga!

19. Wellness Room Yoga

Apparently every Monday there is free yoga if you go to a dimly lit room on the third floor of Old Union known as the sanctuary. These classes are taught by Pavel, who journeyed all the way here from Russia about seven years ago. In Soviet Russia, the term “yoga” was prohibited because it had religious connotations. Apparently it was called “Mind Control Exercises” or something like that. Pavel said that in a way, that was a pretty good assessment of what yoga is about. In any event, this was my first time ever doing yoga, and I was terrible. Sen. Warma stopped by for a bit, but we didn’t get any action shots of him, unfortunately.

Pavel was pretty awesome, I must say, and like I said, he does this every Monday, free of charge. I don’t think yoga’s really my thing, but if it’s yours, this seems like a pretty sweet gig. Although you should probably bring your own mat if you can.

[![]( "Jordan and Pavel")](
Yoga Instructor Pavel and me
There were 10 people (including myself, Sen. Warma, and The Official Wellness Girlfriend) at yoga, and as far as I know, none of whom were at the Fred Luskin talk, so that means so long as I complete all the tasks, the Wellness Challenge $100 prize is mine! Unless someone just sorta decides to check all the boxes in the self-regulated system that they’ve set up. Then it might be a little trickier. Please don’t do that–that would be unWell.

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