Thursday 26 April 2007


Yoga should carry a health warning. I don’t think there is a single muscle in my body that isn’t aching this morning. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with yoga. Having had it forced upon me as a child (my mother used to waft around the house in the 60s wearing her footless tights and big-bummed leotard with some kind of mandala on the front) it rather put me off. But, over the years, I keep going back to it in the hopes that, like olives, it’s something you acquire a taste for as you grow up. So, about every three years or so, I try a different type. Most, I have to say, I found rather boring. You wound yourself into a knot and just stayed there – wobbling – for aeons. Because I’d had a head start I have always been pretty flexible and so never found the postures that tricky. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy as James would say. But then I tried ashtanga (the infamous ‘power’ yoga) and found myself lying on the floor in a complete collapse, sweat pouring off me and muscles wobbling. This wasn’t yoga – it was torture.

After that I had a go at dru yoga – which was painfully intimate (you practiced ‘trust’ by leaning on people – and nobody seemed to wear deodorant). Enough already, and so for my next foray I had a bash at Iyengar. By this time I was living in the same village as my mother (let’s not even go there) and she coerced me to go along. It was fine – nice and straightforward and clinical – not a smelly armpit in sight. But the teacher was way too gung-ho and pushed me into a downward dog no right-thinking dog would ever attempt. I came up and my arm had gone numb. A day later it was still numb and my osteopath diagnosed a frozen shoulder and harrumphed a lot as he unfroze it.
Moving down to Exmoor, the choices became more limited. But three years ago I did try a class in the village hall. This one didn’t even say it was any particular kind of yoga at all. To be honest, I’m not sure the teacher even knew – she was lovely but one of those wafty pastel-mauve people who look like a dandelion clock – one puff and she’d be over. She floated around the hall, vaguely directing us but kept forgetting which asana she was doing – and even how to do it. It was annoying, but not half as irritating as the ghastly ping-pong music that faded in and out.
So, I gave up yoga. Kept on with aerobics, did a bout of Pilates (but found that even more boring) and tried to do the odd stretch. But my back loves yoga, even if I don’t, and so when I started getting the tell-tale twinges, I knew it was time to go back.

I pitched up at the hall with a good two minutes to spare. On Exmoor this counts as wildly early so I anticipated strolling in, introducing myself and my problem areas and saying a leisurely hello to the other participants. But when I opened the door, with a huge creak, I found about twelve people already lying on mats, eyes shut, taking their consciousness into their pelvises. The teacher – male, youngish, seriously toned – nodded and pointed to the only spare place (yup, right at the very front right next to his mat). Inevitably I made too much noise – while they all lay in perfect silence, thud went my boots as I took them off; rustle went my coat. I picked my way through to the front and my mat managed to make a serious thwacking noise as it slapped onto the floor. I lay there with my heart pounding and just about got my consciousness into my toes when it was time to get up. And then off we went. About 75 minutes of non-stop tough – TOUGH – moves. This guy takes no prisoners. I’d come clad in thermal vest and thick sweatshirt (knowing how cold these halls can be, and how static yoga can be). Within minutes I was sweating but couldn’t take off the sweatshirt as the thermal vest is not for public consumption (nor is the overweight torso underneath it).

Oh heck, as I write this we’ve just had a power cut. The wind is rising and we’re obviously in for a very blustery day. It’s nearly pitch black still (at quarter to eight).
I suppose this is the universe telling me to shut up, moaning on about yoga – and get some work done. James is supposed to be playing a football match this afternoon, but can’t see it happening at this rate. This is the time when you thank God for an Aga and wish to heavens we’d kept the generator serviced! Ah well. Onwards. If it’s this windy here, I dread to think what it’s doing elsewhere – we’re very sheltered in our combe (despite being so high up) and we miss the worst of the wind. Hope all you other bloggers are OK. Batten the hatches, tie down the sheep!

5.10pm. The power has only just come back on. Once my laptop batteries ran down I had nothing to do except clean the house (urgghh), take Asbo for a walk (it was raining so hard it actually stung my eyes – why is that?), and, while the light held, do a bit of needlepoint (it felt SO decadent on a weekday). A tree came down along the road but was cleared pretty quickly. But now we’re hearing news that the storms have been terrible in other parts of the country – up North and in Scotland in particular. Are you all OK out there?

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