Last summer, at the urging of a friend, I began attending yoga classes. When I said to family and friends, "I've started practicing yoga," my declaration prompted a variety of responses, mostly along the lines of disbelief or amusement. "What's so funny?" I finally asked one giggling colleague. "Well, it's just a bit hard to picture," she replied. "Face it, Martin, yoga is a meditative practice, and you are one of the least meditative people I know."

It's true, in a sense. I have a hard time slowing down. I usually do my meditation amid bustle and noise. To me, the two most dreaded words in the English language are silent retreat. So it's not surprising that the last time I exercised in a studio was during the aerobics craze in the 1980s. I loved bouncing around to funky tunes by Earth, Wind & Fire or the B-52s. The class felt like a raucous party featuring line dancing. It was nothing like what happens in a yoga studio.

Yet I tuned my heart to the slower rhythms of yoga rather quickly. All the poses of yoga are still so new to me, and the physical demands so challenging ("You want my body to do what?") that the routine hardly feels like a meditation. I have begun to imagine how it could be meditative, however, which has to be some kind of progress.