Today, for the first time since my rather traumatic retreat in Italy, I went to attend a formal yoga class.
I had decided to do this because my home practice was uninspired, ad hoc and always being interrupted by the postman, plus if I’m going to teach this for a living, I’d like to do lots of different styles before I decide what it is I want to teach rather than have it dictated to me.
I set out in good time (unusual for me) and got there early, which was just as well as the studio was packed.
I then made myself very popular by holding up the queue by paying with plastic whilst everyone behind me was trying to appear patient and Zen like, when they were in fact bristling with suppressed frustration and impatience whilst the poor little pixie on the desk stared at the bank machine willing it to get a move on, whilst minutes ticked by, closer and closer to the start time, which I have to admit, did bring a wicked little smile to my face.
It was going to be yoga Jim, but not as I know it.
It was going to be the kind of yoga class I used to go to.
The other tell tale sign was when I clapped eyes on the teacher.
As soon as I saw him, one (rather uncharitable) word popped right into my head and stayed there for the duration of the lesson:
As in, the kind of teacher that ends up shagging his students.
A bit like my old ‘Guru’ probably, but younger and more attractive.
But with a flaw.
They usually have a minor flaw these guys, just one tiny thing that stops them from being model perfect (biggish nose, slightly receding chin, not very tall), so they hurl themselves into their practice, and work until their bodies are Greek god like, then, and only then do they feel that they are entitled to plunder their salivating, hero worshipping, downward dogging customer base.
And shaggers usually teach competitive yoga.
Not deliberately you understand, but their classes nearly always attract gym nazis that wear tight ‘Sweaty Betty’ lycra, a stony ‘I’m better at this shit than you’ expression, and have a very determined air about them as they crowbar their poor bodies into the most excruciating contortions, usually before they are ready to do so.
So this was going to be quite a challenging class.
Bring it on. I’ve spent so many months practising in a body-kind, gentle, responsible fashion, it will be kind of nice to tax myself a bit again.
Pretty soon some mystical cum ‘chill out’ music fills the air, and as the practice begins, I realised that I can’t understand a single thing my heavily accented teacher says, and certain tossers that insisted on breathing very loudly and theatrically didn’t exactly help.
And as I was at the back of the class, I couldn’t see what he was doing either.
But you know something?
It didn’t matter.
Because I just followed the others and, if nothing else, in the last couple of years, I’ve learned to feel free enough in any yoga class to do my practice at my own pace, leave out the bits that don’t suit me and not participate in the inevitable ‘pissing contest’ when it comes to headstands, lotus’, back bends and other such difficult poses.
A few of the ‘show boaters’ did cast me a few puzzled glances on noticing me breaking from protocol, as if waiting for me to grab a yoga belt and start flagellating myself with it in shame and contrition.
But the teacher said not a word, nor did he have to come over and correct me at all.
And I was one of the few people who wasn’t trembling with excessive effort as I transitioned from pose to pose.
But I enjoyed it.
It wasn’t perfect; old Shagger didn’t ask about injuries or tell us to go at our own pace, I couldn’t hear a bloody thing of course, and the person inches in front of me had the most minging feet.
But I loved the thing I’d been missing most of all.
Practising, breathing and chanting with others.
Because I’m far from perfect either, and whatever style we practice, and however seriously we take it, and whatever reason we do it, we are all on the same journey, whether we know it or not.
And it was nice to share mine with someone other than two very mischievous, intrusive, bombastic cats and a horny postman.
So, as that other muscular, showboating shagger used to say, “I’ll be back”…..