It’s not often that I compare myself to the Queen, but I did notice in her Christmas speech that she didn’t mention the words Pandemic or Covid once. In all my newsletters, posts and blogs I have made a concerted effort to avoid the elephant in the room. I wish I could say the reason is there are so many other things to talk about… but I think I just don’t want to add to the noise. It is loud out there. Or perhaps I am more ostrich-like than regal, burying my head in the sand (but doing a wonderful headstand while I am at).
The land of Lala
I was really looking forward to taking a much-needed break. Like many, I realised that I hadn’t had a ‘proper’ day off since the beginning of time. Rather than offering ‘Pre-Christmas Chill Out Yoga’, ‘Post-Christmas Work Out Yoga’, ‘New Year’s Shake It Up ‘n Stretch It Out Yoga’ or some other concoction to entice people to do some yoga, I shut up shop. NO YOGA I decided, for 1 whole week. Movement wise the plan was to explore something different such as weights, cardio, running or salsa dancing.
The second part of my plan was to curl up on the sofa, with the cat(s)/dog(s) nestling next to me whilst I buried my nose into a book. Not an anatomy book, not a philosophy book, not a yoga book, not a scientific study, but a story. Any story, even a cheesy story. One that I could get lost in and allow my brain to lose itself in the land of lala.
The plan fails changes
Three days before the beginning of laladom, two of my friends tell me about an online Yin Yoga workshop being run by an ‘amazing teacher’. I hunt out all my anatomy books, pull up scientific studies about Yin, get out my hello kitty pencil case and commit to a double daily dose of Yin Practice throughout the duration of the course.
The first lecture we analyse the Lung and Large Intestine meridians. With immense pride, I take out my newly sharpened colour pencils as I mark out each meridian on what appears to be the outline of a corpse you’d find in a crime scene. We discuss each meridian’s colour, element, sense organ, season, climate, taste, emotion and imbalances. My teacher discusses her experience of teaching Yin not in terms of alignment, but in terms of emotions, chakras and healing. On paper it looks pretty and neat, but in practice my mind boggles. I have done Yin Yoga before, but cannot seem to marry the idea of doing a pose and how it is connected with a ‘spicy’ taste, ‘humility’ and an imbalance of ‘overwhelming guilt’ or ‘toothache’ or ‘prostate disorders’. I suppose the proof is in the pudding.
The first Yin practice for this course explored the 2 meridians I had neatly coloured in. The teacher said we would be working on ‘deep emotional release from the hips’. Whatever that meant. The practice began with a child’s pose, lulling me into a false sense of calm before the storm.
Whether it was the deafening silence, as the teacher never seemed to say anything or the fact the postures were held for an interminable amount of time, I don’t know, but I was not enjoying the practice. What began with a mild feeling of irritation and a few sighs, developed into increasing frustration and me huffing loudly. This blew up into an undefined rage and I found myself growling. At what was anyone’s guess.
The video rolled on, mentioning that I might like to repeat the affirmation ‘I am tolerant’. Tolerant my ar#e. How can a yoga posture create such a reaction? Pose after pose spawned a different emotional reply. I was bawling, blubbing, whimpering, laughing, giggling and whooping, to name but a few. Every fibre of my being wanted to stop. But something inside of me was masochistically curious. That ‘interminable’ time was only 3 minutes. Less time than it takes to boil a kettle. What on earth was going on?
Watching me watching me
Watching my reaction from the outside I was laughing at myself. How had I got my knickers in such a twist over a yoga pose? Half of my brain was working out which colour meridian was this? Which chakra did she say this affected? Then I remembered that ‘prostate disorders’ was on my list- would I get that too? The other half of my brain was trying to work out the reason for these hot, hiccupy tears. I could give no logical reason to any of it.
75 minutes later, I settled into the final pose. I was all howled out and floating in stillness. Then I realised that every ounce of accumulated stress had been expelled from my body.
The yoga party
Recently I had seen a fellow yoga teacher looking rather sophisticated with a single Airpod in her ear as she asked her students to press play on her Spotify playlist. So when a friend of mine asked if I would teach an online yoga class to celebrate her birthday I decided to follow suit, suggesting the birthday girl compile her playlist for everyone to play on the day.
It was wonderful to be invited into over 50 households around the globe, seeing their Christmas trees, pets and lives in the background as families huddled together for a random ‘Boxing Day Birthday Yoga Bash’. Most of the people had never done yoga before and I secretly suspect the majority weren’t interested in the slightest. The two keenest participants was a 5¾ year old girl with pigtails who clung to her blankie and a 89½ year old ex-pilot who clung to his fluorescent green sweatband, which kept pinging off.
Let it Go
Like James Bond, we synchronised our devices and press play on the music, and so it began. Uniting people from the US, Hong Kong, and various countries in Europe through yoga. I wasn’t prepared for the music playing directly into my ear as opposed to unobtrusively in the background. By the time I got into teaching the sun salutes my ‘namaste’ hands turn into jazz hands as Frozen’s Let it Go boomed in my head. The music soared as did my movements until I felt the Broadway stage spotlight light me up as I belted out Let it Goooooooooooooooo. I have definitely converted the 5¾ year old to yoga. In hindsight, I should have been a little more specific (and prepared) for what was on the playlist. Who said that you can’t do The Twist mid Warrior Two? It is great for hip mobility and plantar flexion.
At the end of the class when everyone was unmuted, we sung Happy Birthday. The sound was dreadful. No one could hear anyone else. It was off key, out of tune, delayed and in various languages. It was gloriously wonderful. 50 little screens, representing 50 households throughout the world coming together with beaming faces, cats and dogs, Christmas trees, to celebrate in the best way possible given all the restrictions. I am sure I am not the only one who shed a little tear through the laughter and sheer joy.
Whilst I stand with the Queen in not mentioning Covid or the Pandemic, and if I could change the course of things I would, but I have to admit that without it I doubt I would have had either of these wonderful experiences.