T-Minus 24 hours from the time I’m penning this I’ll, most likely, have my face in someone’s bum as they stretch forward into a weird pose named after an animal I’ve never encountered in person and I’ll have to stop myself storming out in a dramatic huff.
My previous blogpost ‘Violation and Vegan Farts: My experience of Hot Yoga’ generated somewhat negative responses from the vegan and yoga communities (not a shock considering the title.) So I thought I’d keep an open mind about getting ‘face down, ass up’ and Ive just signed up to another type of class. I’m already beginning to judge the decision already.
I’ve been reading the website for the type of thing I’m going to be doing – Ashtanga Vinyasa Mysore-style Yoga, which is, supposedly, a “modern-day form of classical Indian yoga,” but sounds more like a bisexual Bollywood star. I don’t think this old yoga could possibly be of use to modern people. With the way Scottish bodies are, it seems like taking something as old as yoga and applying it now, would be the equivalent of finding a manual for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and trying to use that information to repair a Porsche. I probably shouldn’t really compare Scottish bodies to a Porsche because as cars have improved, we certainly haven’t. Anyway, I’m abandoning this metaphor because one website has told me that newcomers will “love” the Tibetan singing bowl. I will not love that. Whatever that is. If this thing gets spiritual on me again I’m going to go ape.
I’ve scrolled further down and found there’s mantras involved in this class. If I had a mantra it would be “no bloody mantras.” The websites example of a mantra is: “I bow to the lotus feet of the gurus.” Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t want to get friendly with anyone else’s feet. The ‘About Us’ section is vague and I still have many unanswered questions. Why does it say there are no classes on Full Moons? Is farting tolerated? Is it linked to Madonna’s religion? Will it change me like what happened to The Beatles when they got all sitar-y? I’m happy with consumerism and a moderate lifestyle, I’m pretty liberal but still a Scot deep down. If this new lot think I’ll switch my Irn-Bru for ancient Indian detoxifying tea leaves they can think again.
I google the aforementioned singing bowl. It’s something for “your final shivasina.” I don’t know what a shivasina is but I hate it already. I google it. It’s a corpse-pose. I’m not posing like a corpse. Come on Stu think positively. I guess I do have a slight curvature of the spine and supposedly yoga will help me, but I don’t feel too excited about being in any sort of physical discomfort again whatsoever.
The online Astanga Vinyasa people look a bit weirder than the last lot. Sort of “flowy” weird. I’m also betting it doesn’t start on time, these yogis just probably yoga whenever. You’re probably getting upset already as you read this, which seems fair as I’m moaning a lot. Whilst I did say I would keep an open mind, I am technically writing an article about it, which is a great way to put a veil between doing something and actually doing it. I’m not actually about to do yoga again, I’m about to “do” yoga and then write about it. Those are two different things and you know it.
* 24 hours later *
I arrive and everyone is in yoga ‘pants’, either that or I’ve rocked up at a shelter for homeless genies. The pants seem very loose and yoga-y, and well suited to things like parkour. The biggest drawback to the freeness is that that they look pretty ridiculous and you can totally see people’s dicks in them.
I head up the stairs and another class is being let out. They’re all pretty sweaty, mostly attractive and mostly female. Lots of women, lots of ripped guys. Did you ever see Along Came Polly? You know the French guy that steals Jennifer Aniston from Adam Sandler? It’s kind of like that, but they look more serene. People kick their sandals off in the middle of the hallway next to a poster that gives you the rundown. It seems really Animal Farm – ‘Everyone is equal’ etc. etc. I’m into that but then I kick off my Nikes and immediately become untrustworthy. Really? We just leave them here?
Into the room. It’s hot. It smells like a bunch of people just did yoga. I set my mat down near a muscly black guy. Almost no one is overweight, but there is a guy who looks EXACTLY like Andy Murray, and yes, he’s topless and has a six-pack. The class is five minutes late when we finally start. The Master Yogi tells us to get into our resting position, which is where you sit on your heels and put your forehead on the mat. If this is the “resting” position then I’m screwed. My ankles feel like they’re nearly breaking and my shoulders are almost out their sockets. Did she say resting or testing? This isn’t resting this is painful.
Next up is my old friend, the downward dog. 15 seconds in and I’m sweating more than a Tory politician in Glasgow. As I lose all arm strength I’m back in Bambi-on-rollerblades mode, whilst the rest of the genies get all Black Swan. I start to sweat out of my kneecaps, which I’m pretty sure is some sort of scientific breakthrough, or at least entitles me to a Blue Peter badge and a hug. Upset and in pain, I make a big mistake and check the clock. This time it’s a worse sight than my first class. We’re 3 minutes in.
It’s not as new-agey as I thought it would be. The Yogi Queen tells us to, “straighten your back leg and get into a ‘warrior pose,'” which is fine with me; I’ll do that, easy peasy. It soon becomes obvious that everyone is breathing really weirdly. No one can do a simple exhale. They have to push it out through their lips, loudly. A whole room of people doing this on their knees feels very eerie and Blair Witch and I begin to worry about how few people know I’m here. I’m too negative to be really enjoying this. I start to feel guilty for showing up. Clearly it’s easier for these people. They’ve been doing it longer. I start to daydream about how I’d make a great muscly black guy.
I look over at the clock to see its been 40 minutes and I’ve somehow completely lost track of time. Did I fall asleep? Pass out? I can’t have, I’m physically exhausted but not out of breath or dribbling. Some of the stretches are getting easier, and the resting position actually feels okay. But just as I think I’m about to start enjoying this, I notice what looks like a couple of pubes have ended up on my arm. Are they from the mat, the floor, the muscly black guy? Can we take a five-minute mat wipe-up break? I feel like people’s juices are flowing into it like a hot sweaty river.
The final 15 minutes are the most intense and the longest. I’m determined to last the duration even though I’m nose deep in sweat. My eyes sting and my ears are full. I’ve never seen this much liquid in my entire life. If there is air conditioning it’s worse than the 50p-a-night hostel in Thailand I stayed in. I’m doing everything in my power not to pass out.
An older lady takes over for the last few minutes of the class. This Queen Mother yogi turns the lights down and lights a scented candle. Mmmm wheatgrass and hippy. Luckily the last posture is just lying back and trying to “go beneath the floor” which I take as “go beyond the door” before realising my error and lying back down. This is the corpse-pose. I’m getting this one, It feels like I’m floating. This horizontal relaxing business is more my kinda stuff. I feel great, I’m in the zone. It’s probably physical exhaustion and not actual yoga satisfaction, but it doesn’t matter. Rest feels good, yoga does not. But I feel like a champion.
Before I leave, the Queen Mother starts to read a poem. It’s got something to do with rain and pebbles and some other nonsense, but it’s better than the ‘om om shanti, shanti shanti om om’ of the first time round. The lights come on and it’s time to go. I did it. I did the yoga again. I need a drink and a disgusting, greasy dinner. I definitely don’t want falafel. I’m exhausted and I smell like some muscly black guy’s balls. I take a shower and go to sleep.
The next morning I’m in a lot of pain and I realise I’m never going to do yoga again until my metabolism slows down and I’m a fat forty-year-old. Right now my guts are working at full efficiency and I can eat mostly whatever I want to. Generally I feel great, but yoga made me feel like hurt. It put my body in pain-mode and I’m no masochist. Sure, if I did more of it then it would probably hurt less, but not less than if I sat in my flat and watched House of Cards instead. TV, a spoon, and peanut butter feels way better than this yoga malarkey but at least no one stole my Nikes.