Thursday, September 23 2021
Leah McFall gave in and took Yogi's mantle.


Leah McFall gave in and took Yogi’s mantle.

OPINION: Why are yoga people so boring? I ask this with love and respect.

Look, they’re not the most irritating subculture. What about people doing their own stock? Or use leaf blowers when rakes are available? And since you ask, I don’t like men over 40 wearing pig hats, unless they’re on stage in a jazz band.

Yet, what about a certain type of yoga? I saw one the other day. He wore a bun and Birkenstocks. This was not the real problem. I mean, I dress according to my demographics, with boring jeans and a long cardigan. No one can see me because middle aged women are invisible.

He was not wearing a rolled up mat or metal flask, which is common for a performative yoga practitioner. No: what caught my attention was the dynamic way he moved, as if Wellington was an extension of his personality.

He was vibrating with energy, sure-footed like a cat. If he had needed to take off – if I had suddenly thrown my Toyota behind him, say, and honked angrily – he would have done so with agility and grace. He might have jumped on my car. He would have been cold about it: I would have looked in my mirror to see him bow his neck and press his palms together, acknowledging the brief congress of our life forces. Basically his atoms were happier than mine, because of yoga. I can’t tell you how much that annoyed me.

Like many people who are prejudiced, I am irrational and misinformed. I have only ever tried two yoga classes, and both were well taught. But I couldn’t relax, lying next to a stranger and listening to them sigh. Yet the day inevitably comes when you have to relinquish the lazy privileges of youth. Your hip starts to click when you take your shoes off. You develop a frozen shoulder. Your doctor injects you with cortisone, noting that it is “just one of those things” as you get older.

You cannot accept this, so read the vital properties of fermented foods. You start to add kefir to everything. You are now fizzing with carbon dioxide, but your hip is still clicking. You think about Topknot and what it must be like to walk on cat feet. Deep down, you know. It’s time to get back to the mat.

Once a leaflet, always a leaflet.  Yoga looks like this: as if I tasted altitude again.

Hope Film Photo / Unsplash

Once a leaflet, always a leaflet. Yoga looks like this: as if I tasted altitude again.

Things have changed. The lockouts have boosted the online yoga industry and millions of previously indifferent people are now doing it in the living room, in their pajamas with the blinds closed. There are routines online for each scenario: Yoga For Text Neck; Yoga for bloating. No market is left behind, including refusniks like me. Give me yoga for people who hate yoga and I’ll click on it.

I chose Yoga with Adriene’s 30-Day Yoga Challenge mainly because she has a dog. She also has 10 million subscribers, so you can imagine her bank balance. No wonder she exudes inner peace. On the first day, she rolled my neck and shoulders. I crackled like Coco Pops when you add milk. On the second day, I bent down until my nose touched my kneecaps. I hadn’t done this since 1998 (I can’t reveal what I was doing at the time, but I will say this pose brought back fond memories to me).

The eighth day and I’m still not coordinated; I get angry, sweat, and shake, but there are feelings I didn’t expect. Imagine a pre-war biplane emerging from a dusty hangar – a feat of engineering, underestimated for years, that is given another chance. Once a leaflet, always a leaflet. Yoga looks like this: as if I tasted altitude again.

I am newly aware of the scale of my vertebrae, the spread of my hand, and the still moment between exhale and inhale. How could I have lived so long and never noticed those few seconds of suspense, in which I hover between everything and nothing? It’s surprising, at 48, to lie down on the carpet with the blinds down, marveling at each cell. No one else will tell you, but your body is a wonder. It is not invisible. Your breath counts, you belong.

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