Oh that Christy Turlington with her exquisitely flared nostrils; remember when she sat on the cover of Time in the lotus position? Now there’s a dame who loves a bit of yoga.
These days everyone’s into it, for all sorts of reasons. You have the old-school devotees, the ones who’ve been saluting the sun since the dawn of time. They’re sincerely in tune with the spiritual side things, they breathe deep and delicately. Their posture is so good and upright you’d think the clouds were made of iron and they had magnets on their heads. They could stay in a pretzel pose for a week and the serene expression on their face would not waver.
Then there’s those recent converts, who perhaps grew bored with stepping or treadmilling and sought new paths to perky buttocks. Or maybe they saw Christy contorting on Oprah with her designer yoga pants and Nostrils of Tranquility, and thought yoga seemed the hip hop happening thing to do. These people are sometimes seen dashing from the bus stop, with their Gucci yoga mats nestled under their arms, bleating, “Ohmygod if I’m late to class Swami will so kill me!”
There may exist be a third camp, perhaps too shy to speak about their particular motivation. These are the people who rock up to class each week just because it makes them feel dead sexy.
At my gym, the Body Pump class and the Iyengar Yoga class finish at the same time. The Pumpers come out all red-faced and grunting, great slabs of sweat on their backs, comparing biceps with their friends and making plans to meet up later to lift up a few tractors for fun. Then the Yoga kids come gliding out, pink-cheeked with liquid eyes and faraway smiles. Sure, there’s all that inner peace malarkey, but maybe there’s something else going on?
Perhaps some people find something rather sensual about it. All that deep breathing. All that stretching and bending. All that beautiful slowness. And then sometimes you get to use those kinky strap thingies that help you reach further than you’ve ever reached before! Woo hoo!
Of course these particular motivations are more likely if your teacher happens to be a Scottish man with a soft, soft accent. One with R’s that come rrrrolling in from the wildest highlands rrrrright into your nether regions. One that wanders round the room occasionally to check your technique, and when you’re laying there with your legs in the air all wrong like a dead cockroach, he ever so politely nudges your foot into the correct position, which makes you start to plot other ways to screw up so you can be corrected again! And again!
Right at the end there’s ten minutes with the lights off, eyes closed and in the corpse pose. Nothing but that lovely voice telling you to just rrrrelax. Let all thoughts leave your mind. Squeeze this, release that. Feel your body floating. Sure, his words are addressed to the whole class, including the alarmingly elastic granny down the front and the weird guy with the headband who takes it all so seriously. But dammit, you reserve the right to daydream that he’s only talking to you.
Hmm. Yoga purely as an excuse to get bendy. Yoga with no regard for spiritual enlightenment or fashion or a six-pack stomach, just a vague desire to become a flexible freak. Yoga for a chance to arrange your limbs in a complicated manner without risk of an unpleasant disease or a broken heart. And you get to keep your tracky pants on.