Friday, August 12, 2005

Tantric Farting

In an attempt to learn how to relax and to hopefully learn how to stretch some muscles I don't know the existence of, I went to a yoga class.

I was really looking forward to it and eagerly turned up to the local YMCA dressed in my loveliest target leggings and baggy t-shirt. Being a crisp autumnal evening, it was with dismay that I entered the gymnasium to find that the class was being held on a vacant squash court. It was freezing there, but the teacher had put out a lot of fluffy grey blankets and urged me to find a mat, grab and blanket and lie in the, er, 'dead' pose I think it was.

I sneaked a few sideways looks at the others in the class. A lot of fiftysomethings: all lipsticked, blow-waved and in matching pastel tracksuits. And me, an exhausted thirtysomething who'd left my husband and daughter after dinner and the dishes and was still puffing from the rush to get there. In the background a CD was featuring some chap thoughtfully playing some panpipes near a running stream. The gushing water sound effects reminded me of my hope for some nearby toilets if I couldn't hold on for the whole class. All too soon the purposeful jingle of Zora's gold bracelets indicated that it was time to show us beginners what this yoga stuff was that all the stars raved about.

Zora looked like a fiftysomething too, but one who'd fashioned herself on a hybrid of Kate Bush, Stevie Nicks and Olivia Newton-John in her 'Physical' phase. She was wearing a lycra bodysuit of black and silver, covered with a loosely black crocheted wrap-around vest and a matching silver headband that barely reigned in her dyed black rock star hair. She wore enough face paint to make Christina Aguilera jealous and her long, wrinkled ear lobes were clearly protesting at having to support some turquoise chandeliers. Her legs were encased in tights but tell-tale bobbled lumps below her knees clearly indicated that she had more varicose veins than a senior ladies bowls final.

"Welcome to beginners yoga class, ladies. And congratulations for venturing into an area where, if you keep an open mind and heart, you will learn some spiritual and physical practices aimed at helping your mind, body and spirit achieve a state of enlightenment, or as we like to call it, a total 'oneness' with the universe----"
What the hell was that?

"......Don't worry ladies, it's just some gentlemen playing squash on the next court. Now, if I can get your attention back to me? Lovely, thanks. Throughout our journey, we will mostly be focussing on doing Hatha Yoga in this class. That is, we'll be taking the physical path using our body through Asana and Pranayama to control your mind and senses. It's more than stretching, ladies. It will open your energy channels, chakras and the psychic centre of your body."

Wow, that doesn't sound too bad for eight bucks fifty, I thought, especially if I also get to learn how to properly stretch my hammies and achilles and -----

Zora raised her hand, acknowledging the challenge of running her yoga lesson against the continuing squash match. "Ladies? Ladies, we'll be working on Prayama, which are breathing exercises that will help you keep things slow and steady and also enable you to let go of any thoughts that are distracting or stressful-----
"..........which will all lead you on your own personal purification process."

Well, I just hoped that she would be able help me personally purify myself by stifling the need to do a wee as soon as practicable, thanks to that panpipin' water music. Thankfully, the first move, 'Table Posture' was a doddle. Think of it as being on all fours, with a flat back like you have to do when your daughter wants a horsey ride around the coffee table.
"Well done ladies, are you feeling-----"
Bloody hell Dennis, what a great shot, mate!
"......all calm and relaxed and ready to try some more?"

Yes, sort of, if only my head wasn't starting to throb from the unpredictable squash sounds. We all concentrated on doing the Dog Tilt; staying on all fours with bums down and faces looking up at the ceiling. It was a nice stretch and pretty darn easy. Next door though, Dennis's luck had changed:
Stupid F*%$ing ball!
Tough luck there Dennis!

Zora's face was frozen into a grim, yet determined smile as we went on to Cat Pose. Our heads collectively dropped down, butts were pulled in and backs were arched. Mmmm, that one also felt nice. This yoga stuff is easy, I thought smugly, temporarily forgetting my full bladder and my aching head.

"It's time for a real classic, ladies: Downward Facing Dog-----"
Not bad Dennis, especially after your knee surgery!
Zora demonstrated the pose for us and looked for all the world as though she was just asking for Dennis the struggling squash player to come running up behind and give her a swift boot up the arse. Still it looked pretty easy to me as I prepared to get myself into the pose. How wrong I was. My calves were screaming in agony and my arms and shoulders were shaking at the sheer effort of supporting my ever-increasing bladder and big fat head.
Dennis - keep your eye on the ball mate! Like this, see?

"......Ladies, back to me please! You're all doing so marvellously well! Are we ready for a prayer squat?"
Sure, especially if I can sit down and massage my temples. It was just a big squat with feet flat on the ground and your hands pressed together in prayer in front of your chest and not something that Dennis and his ball-bashing buddy were going to spoil for us, was it? I all-too-hastily jumped down into position - paarrrrp!! parp parp! parp! went my arse.

Oh my god, I just farted out loud. In a yoga class, out in public, full of complete strangers. Did anyone hear? Yes, they did, as all the fiftysomethings' eyes, which should have been focussing on their own belly buttons, were now focussed on me. Where was Dennis's next squash shot when you needed it?
"Er, pardon me folks, it must have been something I ate, heh heh heh...." I lowered my reddened face in shame whilst absently noting that I could conveniently hide it in the downward facing dog pose.

"Well done ladies, it's time for the Gate Pose. Now put your left arm up the ceiling, like this, and put your right hand on your right leg and lean right over----"
Paarrrrp!! parp parp! parp!
"Whoops, me again, sorry about that - I'll move to the back of the class."
Thanks for nothing Dennis, you were about ten seconds too late to hide my own contribution to anti-yoga noise pollution.

"Low Lunge time, ladies! For those of you who haven't tried this one before, it's like-----"
Paarrrrp!! parp parp! parp!
"Sorry Zora, I'm sure it's nothing like that, you just show the rest of the them and I'll pick it up as I go along" All heads ignored my weak smile and swivelled back to Zora whose mouth had turned into a cat's bum of disapproval.
Dennis, calm down mate, it's just a friendly game, OK?
Dennis, come back mate, it was only a joke!
Dennis, where are you going?

Sadly, no-one said that to me as I sidled out of class and nipped quickly into the Ladies'.

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