Say No to Yoga; Say Yes to Noga!

The ancient art and spiritual practice of saying “no.”

Marilyn Flower
Nov 3, 2019 · 4 min read
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Photo by David Kuba on Unsplash

I went to my first “noga” class today.

Noga is the ancient art and spiritual practice of saying “no.” Bet you didn’t know that saying no is an ancient art and spiritual practice. Let me break if down for you. We’ll start with the ancient art.

You’ve heard of yoga. All kinds of Asanas or poses designed to contort the body into variations on a pretzel. You’ve seen the gravity defying pictures of a man doing a plank in mid-air, suspended by one hand. Or the lady with her feet around her ears. Physically impossible, right?

Right! That’s why they invented noga for the rest of us. We know we can’t contort ourselves like that and we’re not so stupid that we’d pay good money for the illusion that we could learn how to do that.

So we pay bad money to practice saying no. The way it works is, the teacher contorts herself into pretzel post #1 and invites us to try it. We stand back and respond with a very clearly pronounced, “no.”

She claps for us and contorts into pretzel pose #2 and invites us to try it. We stand back and respond with a very clearly pronounce “no.” This time, just to test us, she asks, “are you sure?”

If we hesitate at all, we have to start over from the beginning. But most of us are very clear. Not in a million years could we bring our head between our thighs by bending over backwards. So we get to respond with another dramatic, “no.” And so on and so forth.

Saying no is a very important muscle to develop.

For most of us, it’s rather weak. Sometimes what happens is we have every intention of saying no. Say to a request for money from our brother-in-law. Or an invitation to dinner from that guy in the next cubicle with the girly pix on his fake wall.

Sometimes, even the best intended no doesn’t make it out of our mouth. We put our tongue on the roof of our palette where the “N” sound forms. Then all of sudden, our tongue goes down into the front of our mouth where the “Y” sound comes from. Before we can stop ourselves, we’re forming yyyyeeeee followed by a snakelike sssssssss.

And damn it all to hell, we’ve just damned ourselves to hell with that one little three letter word. That’s why we’re in noga class.

The next part is the spiritual practice. Here we light incense and put on soft music. The teacher leads us in a meditation. Just to clear our minds. And get rid of our yes-terdays, and our yes-ma’ams.

We don’t chant OM, we chant NO! We start with a long, slow nnnnnnnn and it begins to vibrate like a kind of humming. This is the Kundalini part. We take that as far as we can and it slips into the oooooooooo. It’s deep and husky which will help us later in the real world.

At first about ninety seconds is all we can stand. But at each class, we do it a little longer. And something happens. We go deep into the invisible realm with this. It comes up through the first four Chakras.

Later, we’ll have a special session on the 5th or throat chakra. Those need to be cleansed and cleared because often our “no” will get stuck in our throat. Our teacher has some special herbs for that.

And acupressure points — -those are quite raw and sore and guaranteed to have us screaming, which will unblock our 5th Chakras. It sounds cruel, but the added bonus is your gall bladder meridian is opened up as well. Trust me, you’ll be glad it is.

Meanwhile, we’re almost ready to graduate. There’s a homework assignment. We have to memorize this little ditty:

Bless us as we go forth from noga
Wrap us in our ceremonial toga
We’ve learned to say no
From our head to our toe
Now we can sign up for yoga

That’s a trick. At the end of the ceremony when we recite the limerick in unison, we get to the end and after the word yoga, we open our jaws wide and scream at the top of our lungs, “NO!”

Now we’re official, diploma and all. We’re known NO Ninjas, buffed up and ready to face the world. So go ahead, ask us for money. Then stand back and cover your ears.

Impressed? You too can sign up for noga classes, starting next week. But be forewarned, it’s not as easy as it looks and your results may vary.

A special thank you to Michelle Monet who reminded me how much fun limericks can be.

All proceeds from this story will be donated to Clowns Without Borders!

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Marilyn Flower writes political humor to delight socially and spiritually conscious folks. She’s a regular columnist for the prison newsletter, Freedom Anywhere, where she writes about faith and prayer. Five of her short plays have been produced in San Francisco. Clowning and improvisation strengthen her resolve during these crazy times.


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Marilyn Flower

Written by

Writer, sacred fool, improviser, avid reader, writer, novel forthcoming, soul collage facilitator, prayer warrior and did I say writer?



Infecting the World with Humor

Marilyn Flower

Written by

Writer, sacred fool, improviser, avid reader, writer, novel forthcoming, soul collage facilitator, prayer warrior and did I say writer?



Infecting the World with Humor

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