Today is the big day – I am going to a yoga class. I am terrified, I didn’t realise yoga was something someone could be terrified of. What if I can’t do any of the moves or I cramp up and get stuck with my arm wedged through my leg and behind my back? What if I wear the wrong clothes? What if my feet smell (they don’t, I just checked. Good thing I shower daily)? What if I get the claw like my friend did when she did Bikram yoga? Also, I don’t enjoy being upside down and there’s a lot of that in yoga, isn’t there? I’m hoping a nice yogi will take pity on me, not in the way my maths teacher did though: “Everyone be quiet, some people are struggling. Josie, come to the front and sit with me.” Oh no, it’s going to be just like school isn’t it? The horror.
This is a true representation of me.
What I went today wasn’t yoga, it was some kind of hypnotism. I came out dazed, feeling like I was riding on the waves of midazolam. I went home and passed out for over an hour – my body had jellified and I was practically drooling as I made my way back to my flat. I suspect what happened was this – I did not go to normal yoga.
When I arrived my instructor was meditating, which was honestly a shock, I didn’t think people actually meditated. I put aside my over-excited cynicism and walked into the class. There were only four of us. I was worried, I was not going to be able to hide at the back but then, then, she told us to keep our eyes closed as we lay on the mat, and we kept them closed for nearly the entire hour. I was a HUGE fan of keeping my eyes closed, I wish all forms of exercise (if I can even class the yoga I did as exercise) required closed eyes. We started with breathing and getting connected to our bodies, I don’t think my body and mind have ever met in good circumstances, I’m normally angry at it for giving me heartburn or neck pain. We met, we shook hands and we made peace. Then there was some stretching, which, I won’t lie, was excruciating on my tight hammies. More breathing, more keeping our eyes closed and then we were sitting up, crossed legged, hands in prayer position and… and… we actually “ommmmmed”, THREE. WHOLE. TIMES. It was then that it hit me, I was in PROPER yoga. I wanted to flee, I’m British, I don’t ommm, but I couldn’t move, my body was defiant. “Om, dammit, om”, so I ommmed. And then we had to do short sharp breaths out and it was then that I was a goner. After all that breathing and omming I was lightheaded and my limbs felt detached. By the end of the session I was unable to keep hold of my intolerance for everything as my French instructors dulcet, soft tones hummed in my ears. In a single hour she had broken me down, I could barely speak when she asked me how I found the session, a soft whisper fell from my lips and I’m not a whisperer, I’m a shouter. I thanked her repeatedly, unable to think of anything else to say, my mind was slowly shutting down. I left perplexed, real yoga isn’t like my DVDs where I’m left grunting and contorted, so I looked up the type of yoga I did – Sivananda yoga. Sivananda focuses on the wellbeing of the person doing it through relaxation and breathing. I have to say, I do feel pretty good, if a little detached from reality.
I was expecting to turn up to a room full of yummy mummies doing a series of complicated moves and then they’d leave glowing, thinner and even more intimidating, whilst I crawled home humiliated and sore. Instead, I left yoga feeling like I might actually be a good person and so I donated a can of peas to the food bank in Tesco. I think yoga has changed me, for today at least.