Yoga. Such a small word. But it can wreak enormous havoc.
I’m exhausted from the pain in my shoulders due to RSI. So, having finally come to the realisation that, however relaxing they are, massages Do Not Work, I decided to break the habit of a lifetime and attend a yoga class.
I’ve always hated yoga, mainly because my ex-husband was such a convert. I remember when I discovered his emails arranging to meet his mistress in New York on a trip paid for by me, we had argued into the early hours. I caught him looking at his watch (Rolex, also purchased by me) and could see him thinking, ‘Only three hours before I have to be up for yoga.’ Even when our marriage was falling apart, all he could think of was his smelly blue mat.
I had picked up a leaflet in my local health shop: ‘Balance the Body. Balance the Mind’. (Yeah, good luck with that.) ‘Every Tuesday at 7.15pm in the Village Hall.’
You see, I already have a problem. ‘Village Hall’, which sounds nice and rural, in reality will be a modern breeze-block square with an angry notice outside telling you not to park there, and no heating to speak of. I always think you could warm these barren places by setting fire to the flyers pinned on the noticeboard: ‘Join our Coffee Morning!’ (It will be instant.) I always wonder at the property brochures for £3 million country piles extolling the proximity of the local village hall, and the fact buses run daily into Leyburn; when you can afford a mansion you have no need of either.
I joined a half dozen or so women filing into the freezing space. They all seemed to know each other. I always wonder, ‘How? From the school run? The community hospital waiting room?’ My classmates started to unfurl their mats and station vats of water and towels by their side. I started to hunt for the pile of mats. I went over to the teacher; the only sign she was a yoga teacher was that she was sitting facing us. ‘Can I have a mat?’
‘You’re supposed to bring your own. Health and safety.’
‘It didn’t say that on the leaflet. Normally there’s a pile.’
‘Not these days. We have banned wet wipes in the village. Anyway, I don’t have time to disinfect things: I have children. Can’t you sit on your coat?’
‘I didn’t bring a coat. And I don’t really do floors.’
‘Dog bed?’ said a lady in the front row, displaying a flash of brilliance.
‘Yes!’ I said, and retreated to my car to pull the bed from under my collie’s not inconsiderable bottom. ‘Sorry, Mini.’
I returned to the class; needless to say, they had started without me. I couldn’t participate in all of the movements, given the doggy dimensions of my mat. Anything upside down made my hearing aids whistle, which meant I got tutted: ‘What are you, a bat?’ I hissed to the woman on my left. I couldn’t touch the floor with my hands as my body doesn’t fold in half: I’m like a very expensive mattress. In the end, after ten minutes, I just sat on my dog bed reading my Twitter feed.
The teacher got up to ‘walk among us’. She smiled and caressed and encouraged everyone, but when she got to me, she merely said, ‘Looking at your screen is bad for you. Plus, all that blue light.’
‘I know,’ I replied, putting it down, not bringing up the fact that the hall was strip-lit to give the ambience of being inches from the sun. I just mumbled instead, ‘I have excruciating pain in my shoulders.’
‘Have you tried swimming?’ she said and returned to the front.The only way I knew the class had finished was when everyone started clapping. I think afterwards they all went to the pub, a few doors down. I had to get back home to my dog Gracie, who is in a cage when not supervised due to her spine surgery and on a strict regime of four walks of 30 minutes a day on a lead. That’s enough exercise for anyone, surely?
I’m now in the car. Ooh, a text. Oh dear. From the yoga teacher. I’m going to be excommunicated. Summoned to vacuum up dog hair. I open it.‘Hey Liz! We have bought you a glass of prosecco! Where’d you disappear to?’
‘Hang on!’ I type. ‘I was just fetching Mini… then comin’!!!!