As a blogger, I occasionally keep tabs on my posts by glancing at the metrics provided by Google and my website builder. But for a really accurate reading, I’ve learned it pays to tally my spam.
Like most people, I started small. Five years ago, the odd post would receive a random comment such as: “Your post is very insightful. To make your day even better, buy Viagra here!” Then a couple of years ago, my spammers became fixated on one particular post: Yoga for Travelers, published on May 12, 2016. First it was a comment or two every month, then every week, and recently it’s soared to several a day, sharing offers for medical marijuana and heavy industrial equipment (preferably not to be used at the same time). I’m getting exhausted just tapping the “Spam - Delete” button.
I will say the comments are getting livelier. Last week I got this from Kajal Das in Bollywood: “Flames Web Series is an oh so sweet story that manages to reach that quiet place lurking within our hearts, even in the cacophony of today’s times. It’s that all encompassing feeling that sweeps us off our feet as we watch the story unfold on screen. And as Rajat and Ishita slowly get drawn towards each other, we find ourselves drawn into the story, until we’re totally into it, hook, line and sinker ! We start rooting for this syrupy love story, wishing with all our hearts for the misunderstandings between Rajat and Ishita to clear up, and for them to get back together.”
Will Rajat and Ishita finally clear up their misunderstandings and find true love? If so, they’re going to have to do it without the assistance of my original Yoga for Travelers. I’ll soon be removing that particular post altogether, in hopes of freeing up my schedule from the boring chore of endless spam deletion. Besides, I have plenty of new thoughts to share on the subject.
I’ve been doing yoga a long time — off and on since I was a senior in high school; that's when I signed up for an optional yoga class because I thought it would be hipper than doing actual athletics during the period assigned to PE (physical exercise). Since then, I’ve come to appreciate other benefits besides the coolness factor. The older I get, the more I rely on yoga to keep me strong and flexible and, when I’m on the road, to offset the effects of long bus rides, hard mattresses, and suitcases that require constant hoisting and hauling. Travel may keep our synapses young, but it can take a toll on our bodies, and Rich and I decided from the outset that during our Mediterranean Comfort Food Tour we would work to minimize our aches and pains by spending regular time on the mat.
And when I say “on the mat” I am, of course, speaking metaphorically. One of the challenges of doing yoga on the road is that I don’t carry a mat with me. Yes, I know there are folding mats available, but as a minimalist packer, I don’t have even that modest amount of space and weight to spare. Instead, when I’m on the road, my yoga practice takes place on whatever rugs and/or towels I can find in our lodgings, and when confronted with an impossibly hard or grubby floor, I stick with standing postures and avoid floor work altogether.
When I'm away from my regular classes, I practice with yoga videos. Maybe it’s a total lack of willpower on my part, but I find it’s a lot easier to keep going when someone is telling me what to do, how to do it, and why it’s helping. There are, at last count, some 549 million yoga videos online; as you can imagine, quality varies wildly. Yoga with Adriene is one of my favorites; she’s got an engaging personality, a dog that wanders on screen from time to time, and more than 500 videos ranging from a few minutes to an hour. On my recent trip, when confronted with dubious floors I often used her Hands-Free Yoga Workout for standing stretches. But that’s just 15 minutes long, and I usually prefer half an hour, so I also practiced with Maris Aylward’s 30 Minute Wrist Free Hands Free Yoga Flow. To mix things up, I selected other teachers’ videos more or less at random.
Of course, yoga isn’t the only way to keep fit on the road. Rich calculates that we walked 735 miles on the trip, and personally, I think we should get extra points for all the crazy staircases we climbed, especially when dragging our bags up with us.
Thanks to the walking, the stairs, and our yoga pracitce, we managed to eat our way through ten countries without gaining any weight at all.
Swimming wasn't part of the program on this trip, but Rich likes to research public pools around the world via SwimmersGuide.com so he can keep up with his laps when circumstances permit. For those who like to work out with weights and machines, there’s been some buzz lately about the free smartphone app Zeamo that helps you find gyms anywhere; I haven't tried it, so if you do, let me know how well it works. Unfortunately the yoga world hasn’t yet organized itself properly with worldwide apps or websites, so your best bet is still good old Google. According to the International Yoga Federation, there are 300 million people worldwide practicing yoga, so there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be able to find a studio just about anywhere you go.
Apparently the abundance of yoga practitioners creates an irresistible target for the world’s spammers. And no doubt before long they will notice this post and begin sending me comments about miracle weight loss pills and cheap hair transplants. But there may be some redeeming moments, too. Now that Bollywood has come out with season two of Flames, we can all look forward to finding out if Rajat and Ishita have finally managed to patch up their differences, realize they’re in love, and locate a really great yoga class in a studio near them. Stay tuned for updates.
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I'm an American travel writer based in Seville, Spain and my home state of California. Right now I'm on a Nutters' World Tour seeking eccentric people, quirky places, and wacky food so I can have the fun of writing about them here.
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