Welcome back to yoga origins - men and their stories of how, when, where and why they decided to try yoga. Expect straight-up honesty, heartfelt insights and side-splitting moments.
I hope these genuine accounts can inspire those who have doubted themselves to give yoga a try, and reveal to those that have already that everyone has let one rip in class at least once...
This month Scott is back with part 2 of his yoga journey...
Part 2 - Gym yoga: it ain't Bali
So I found myself back in the UK; Porthcawl specifically, where the search for continuation of my yoga experience took flight, like (for those of you who appreciate a nature metaphor) a young eagle, spreading its wings for its first majestic flight from a cliff-top eyrie, only to over-balance and tumble in a squawking, flapping ball of feathers into a spikey Hawthorn bush covered in 3 months-worth of its own eaglet shit.
It turned out that the local gym had weekly yoga sessions. I signed up for the Monday night class. And the one after that. And the one after that. After each class, Mrs Squires would ask what I thought. “Seemed OK” was my answer, “not quite what Sunilkumar did”. To which she would reply enigmatically, “mmm. Not like Bali either”. I thought she meant the climate and the white sand beaches, and asked her why she was off-topic. She raised one eyebrow at this, which I thought best to ignore.
I soon found that I was getting more from my home practice than the Monday evening class. Unlike the gym-class, which was rather random in what teacher might turn up and what arbitrary yoga they might try to afflict you with, my Indian guru had a consistent class that was somewhat embedded in my brain along with his mellifluous voice guiding me toward that LSD-infused happy finish (which incidentally was also not like the ones on offer in Bali either).
By now, I’m a few weeks into my yoga experience. I’m set up in the front room, amid the usual junk that hasn’t found a permanent place in the house - a few guitars, an amp, some dangerously trailing cables and leads, an off-putting multi-coloured patchwork sofa, a wall of white Ikea storage units, two sets of opulent silk curtains, and a painting done by a Javanese rescued elephant (fortunately the rescued elephant remained in the rescue centre, otherwise there really wouldn’t have been enough room for my yoga mat). I’m not one for reading books, but I read a book about yoga. It said that non-guru-supervised practice should not be considered due to the dangerous nature and complexitation of yoga, and that a guru will find the patient yogi. So I put the kettle on, had a cup of java, waited near the front door for the bell to ring, gave up waiting after a few minutes, and got on with it anyway.
I’m feeling some positive and significant changes at this point. My dog is getting downward. My cobra no longer looks like a semi-deflated party balloon and, whilst it wouldn’t kill the annoying prick with the out of tune flute, would at least menace him into playing in D minor and throw in a few Jerry Garcia licks. More importantly and unexpectedly, my stress responses to pressured work situations had changed - it had de-personalised, I could deal with things more dispassionately. I wondered where it might lead…
Anyway - enough of the hippie shit for now; let’s get back to the gym... You probably need a mental picture of me at this point. Some say I looked like a generic caricature of Jesus, but without any talent to transmogrify water into something more enlightened or indeed perform any of the other lesser miracles: dark-skinned, long-haired, long-bearded, and wearing a pair of fisherman’s trousers made to measure on the cliff in Varkala for slightly less than a quid. Walking past the roid-headed gym gorillas turned more heads than Beyonce (but I’m guessing for different reasons).
This particular lesson was led by a new Yoga teacher. She was six foot tall, six inches wide, and sounded like she came from six miles north of Leeds. She was lovely. Up to a point. For thirty or so minutes she guided me and the local ladies through a vinyasa flow session. And then came the scary bit. I found myself sat cross-legged awaiting the next instruction which took me by surprise. She invited us all to clench the Mula Bandha. Apparently it exists somewhere between the vagina and the anus. I was in deep water. I knew I had an anus, but to date had no knowledge of having a vagina. Being quite clever, I improvised. I knew the nether-region she was speaking of and so attempted a clench. Nothing happened. No perceptible clench.
Then I had an epiphany.
I remembered that feeling: the morning after eight pints of ale and a prawn Madras; 10 yards of landing to the loo and a predicted evacuation somewhere short of 8. I had control of the Mula Bandha. But my time at the gym was at an end. I wasn’t getting the yogic feeling. It was time to move on. And Bali beckoned. What did the enigmatic Mrs Squires mean by “not like Bali either”...