We were late, which didn’t help. ‘Classes start at two’ meant actually sitting on your Yoga mat at two - not arriving. We slunk in with whispered apologies. Dead silence prevailed. Assorted ladies and one cadaverously bony man sat, eyes closed, cross-legged, doing some very important breathing. In the centre an intense young woman of pale appearance stood on one leg, hands clasped above her head, making a humming noise. We could feel her attitude long before she spoke. Worthy, healthy, and utterly vegan. Not exactly full of happy fun - more determined frugality.
A howling November draught blasted its way un der the ill-fitting door of the Community Hall as we sat, agonisingly cross-legged, listening to a meaningful talk on Pranna and Meditation. I discreetly eyed the rest of the class. A leotard is not my favourite garment and it was quite a relief to find that there were some interesting bulges squeezing in and out of some shiny, sporty outfits which made me feel considerably more comfortable in my own demure black effort. Teacher, of-course, was like a bean-pole. Not an ounce of flab anywhere. No tum, seat, boobs or thighs, and Marlene Deitrich cheek-bones. Depressing.
We were soon learning about the horrors of meat, fish, eggs, milk and cheese, and the delights of beans, lentils and cabbage, and as the weeks went by knotted muscles miraculously un ravelled.. Deep breathing improved, and we actually started enjoying the lentils and beans; we even lost an inch or two here and there. We tried hard to get used to the wintry blast that persistently plagued us from under that awful door, as we sat on our mats this was important as we were in the line of fire so to speak. Soon we were into ’Complete Relaxation’ - endeavouring to transport ourselves, accompanied by suitably soporific music, to a blue lagoon with palm trees and gentle breezes.
“Empty your mind. Think only of a blue lagoon - gentle waves washing the shore.” A blast of November air hurtled towards my Yoga mat, and actually moved it. No - no - ignore it - blue sea - palm trees. Blue…blue. My blue trousers need a new button. I wonder if I have one. Don’t be silly, you know you haven’t. Come on now - concentrate. You are relaxing beside a blue lagoon. Think of palm trees. I hope they are coconut trees. I love coconut. I must buy one for the birds tomorrow. Perhaps I’ll get one on the way home. NO - you won’t. Forget the stupid coconut and concentrate . Clear your head…….. What on earth was that? A gentle, rhythmic sound was wafting into my left ear. I glanced over. The cheerful little lady beside me had completely drifted off, and was quietly snoring. That really cleared my head. Now I wanted to blow my nose. The only place for a hanky in a leotard is in your knickers, if you remember to put one there. I hadn’t - so all I could do was sniff.
Week after week we dutifully continued meditating, standing on our heads, and soon got very good at Saluting the Sun. We could gradually concentrate on that blue lagoon for a bit longer, and surely Pranna was a good thing, along with beans and cabbage.
It was the beans that finally did it. While concentrating on one of the numerous “Bend down, wrap your arms around your legs, and touch your knees with your forehead” routines, the dignified lady with the serious expression on the mat next to my friend Jane let fly with a dynamic and windy explosion. The poor dear looked up from her knees with a very red face and quivering confusion. “Sorry” she muttered into her knee-caps, and gazed fiercely at her Yoga mat. Jane got the giggles. Giggles are infectious. We both snorted into our knees until I could take it no longer. I straightened up too fast, got an awful cramp and hastily bent down again, whereupon all those beans showed their true worth so loudly that the whole class jumped. Jane and I collapsed into decadent hysteria.
Teacher drew herself up to her whiplash five foot two; told us what she thought of our childish behaviour, and suggested that in the interest of those taking the class seriously we should leave it.
We joined a jolly little ’Keep-Fit’ class after that, and jumped around to decadent music. Anyone want a Yoga Mat? We were late, which didn’t help. ‘Classes start at two’ meant actually sitting on your Yoga mat at two - not arriving. We slunk in with whispered apologies. Dead silence prevailed. Assorted ladies and one cadaverously bony man sat, eyes closed, cross-legged, doing some very important breathing. In the centre an intense young woman of pale appearance stood on one leg, hands clasped above her head, making a humming noise. We could feel her attitude long before she spoke. Worthy, healthy, and utterly vegan. Not exactly full of happy fun - more determined frugality.