Every year the same two things happen like clockwork and take me by completely surprise:
How is it that Christmas day sneaks up so stealthily, despite my bemoaning the baubled-tinselled shopfronts in October and George Michael’s daily reminder about ‘Last Christmas’?
Now here we are in summer. My clients are once again mumbling phrases such as ‘see you after the summer holidays’, ‘in the new term’, ‘around September time’.
I am a freelance-workaholic-yoga teacher. My aim is to build a yoga empire so I can retire to do more yoga in paradise (the one on earth, not in heaven). I don’t do holidays – summer or any other time. It is part of my well-balanced lifestyle. Regularity is key. Work during the day and sleep at night. Yin and Yang.
And yet, once again I am surprised by the mass exodus of people from my classes and the reduction of my workload – moving from a hurricane category 5 (‘danger to people from flying debris’) to a light sigh (‘danger to people from halitosis’). Every summer, my work timetable whittles down to the point that I consider learning the accordion and heading for busking sessions in Leicester Square for some extra cash.
This summer is no exception, except for the added extra of the rather urgent need to pay for a plasterer to strut his stuff in my bathroom. My DIY skills were very successful, if the aim of plastering were to seal your eyeballs to your eyelids and create surfaces that looks like the face of the moon. But apparently that isn’t the aim. After much discussion at my house, an “expert” was called in. The plasterer laughed for the first 10 minutes whilst surveying the job and then said he would rather that old fashioned commodity known as ‘cash’ as recompense. Apparently, swapping skills i.e. his plastering for enlightenment and freedom from samsara “wouldn’t go down well with this mortgage lender”.
My brain started to go into overdrive for the ultimate theme for my class. Something appealing, reminding everyone why they come to yoga and why they should keep coming. Forever. And as many days as there are in the week.
‘Yoga for that summer beach body, because the one you have isn’t going to cut it’.
‘Yoga to stay forever young, because old people die and that’s not fun’.
‘Yoga for flexibility, because if you can’t stretch you can’t reach the ceiling’ (This was aimed at the plasterer, but he wasn’t taken in by it).
But despite my magical themes, people were still talking about the expense of all the travel tests and making arrangements with cat sitters.
Then my vrittis started having a field day. Is it me? Are my classes boring? Have I taught all my knowledge? Do I need to offer something new? Hatha, Yin, Power, Ashtanga, Hot, Restorative, Nidra, Meditation, Pranayama is obviously not enough. I really should up my game and offer variety.
Then as always the answer came to me. Aerial yoga. It’s intriguing. It is variety. I’ll offer that. I figured I should take a class first…
I would describe aerial yoga as the art of doing yoga suspended mid-air in a silky hammock. My instructor, a genuinely nice man who assumed I knew what I was doing because I was a yoga teacher, seemed to glide in and out of positions with gazelle like elegance and lightness. I, on the other hand, resembled more of a heffalump and a tightly wrung dishcloth as everything twisted around my body.
Some poses look heavenly, such as a ‘supported downward facing dog’. The material nestles into your hips holding you up, giving you space and length in your spine. But I found although the yards of copious material hoicked the hips up, it also pressed into my bladder, daring me to pee my pants (which you will be relieved to know didn’t happen.)
Doing an inversion was so easy. I wrapped my legs around the sheets until my blood supply was systematically cut off from feet, ankles, calves, and thighs. I then alternated between handstand and Pincha poses (making me feel like a bona fide Instagram yogi). After what I estimated was 4 hours and 32 minutes of inversions and 2 metres of growth in height, I began to see little stars dancing around my head. This brought my contemplation to a halt of whether I would pay the plasterer from my new modelling, basketball playing or skyscraper window cleaning career.
And then I remembered I already had come up with a potential cash cow…
During the first lockdown, when the gyms had closed and we were all Zoom virgins, I had come up with the ingenious plan of offering Spinning and Yoga. The idea was to do 30 minutes of a frenetic spin session and 30 minutes of yoga to stretch it out, all online of course. It would appeal to 2 different markets- it was a definite money spinner… 😉 No one was offering this. It wasn’t even much of a thing on the internet.
I placed 2 yoga mats on my living room floor. One for the yoga and one for my bike, which I brought in from the garden. I balanced the saddle on top of a long plank of wood. Each end was held up by various items, including a pea green sink (from my bathroom), a broken office chair, bricks, a crate and books. Everything was stacked high enough for the back wheel to lift off the floor. My DIY spin bike worked.
The wobbliness when you stood up on the pedals was a tad disconcerting. The pedals were restricted from turning as they clanged against the sink, but other than that, it was pure genius. I could angle the camera in such a way that my living room didn’t look like a dumpster. Instead, it had a modern art installation feel to it. I had also invented a brand name for my new fitness regime Yo-Gaspin’ which I painted on a sheet as my backdrop.
My cunning plan never took off at that time as most people didn’t have an old bathroom sink handy to balance their bikes on. Besides, at the time people were binge buying toilet paper, and fitness equipment was more highly valued than gold. But today with life edging back to normal (ish), I am sure you can buy a spin bike or an old bathroom sink on the internet with relative ease. Perhaps this will stop people from going on holiday?
If you can’t beat ‘em…
As I type, more messages wishing me a great summer are pinging in. I know in my heart of hearts that I have hit the big time with my ideas. However, even if I could both come up with a cool brand name for my new Aerial-Spin-Yoga class with 70’s disco music, and a way to suspend a bike in mid-air, I suspect I’ve missed the boat for this summer. Everyone is already in the queue to prove their Covid-free status before travelling off to spend some much-needed time away and with loved ones. Perhaps I should jump on a plane instead… or maybe I’ll wait until Christmas.