“The next pose is called the Bitilasana,” her calm voice continued, “Or the cow pose.” 

Wow, I thought, this yoga instructor sure has a crude sense of humour. I looked up to find her glowing face composed and relaxed as she got in position. None of the other women had found this insulting so I guess it really was just a pose. 

“Now hold for 30 seconds. It is an easy, gentle way to warm up the spine,” she went on to explain.  

Real-life sessions at a gym are not what’s seen on Youtube

My spine, and pretty much every other muscle in my body that had been in cryogenic sleep since the beginning of time, begged to differ, however. Clearly furious at being awoken from their deep resting state, they were in no mood to be flexible and refused to hold up in said pose, making me question a lot of my life decisions, starting with why I was here in the first place. 

Oh right, Zen. Just because my husband was going through a health-fitness phase or what I hoped was hopefully just a phase. He had had an enlightening realisation that our current lifestyle was too laidback and that it was time we exercised right and eat healthy. I had nodded understandingly, unthinkingly tossed in the “you’re right”, and listened to his dialogue with as much interest as any married old couple. And before I could realise what I was getting myself into, I had ventured too far and the damage had been done. 

It was time to change “our” diet and “our” lifestyle. My argument, that I was picking up toys all day and that that was equivalent to more squats than I could possibly do at the gym, was too little, too late. I was asked to pick my poison.  

I opted for kettlebells. I could fake an injury and that would be the end of that. 

“Are you sure? Swinging a 14kg kettlebell?” he asked, genuinely concerned. 

“I’m swinging a 14kg to­­­ddler all day, I’d knock it right out of the park, sign me up!” I replied convincingly. Plus, it was all the rage. 

But my significant other wasn’t so easily convinced and thought that would be a tad extreme to start off with. High-intensity cardio and simple treadmill were ruled out on account of being too much work. And after shooting down Pilates, Zumba and a few other options, we settled on yoga.   

“Great, so it’s decided. You start yoga next Saturday. Also, no carbs for us. Right, protein is the way to go.”

So I signed up just to humour him. I was living in my yoga pants anyway. All I had to do was show up and breathe. And I could go over the limited options of carb-free, gluten-free edible meals while I was at it. It also provided an excellent excuse to buy new gear and I wasn’t naïve to let that opportunity slide. You know, just the necessary exercise gear — I wanted to look the part. 

So with a new Fitbit Charge 2 strapped to my wrist, and homemade granola bars and detox flask in hand, I entered what I had hoped would be a dimly lit studio full of the aroma of scented candles, buzzing with inner peace waiting to be soaked in. All I had to do was sit, inhale-exhale and let it work its magic. 

High-intensity cardio and simple treadmill were ruled out on account of being too much work. And after shooting down Pilates, Zumba and a few other options, we settled on yoga.

I had briefly considered taking the offspring along but after a brief — a very brief — Youtubed “Yoga at home” session that had Five Little Monkeys as the relaxing background music, I decided against it. Then, of course, there were the candles. 

But to my utmost horror, the yogi expected us to achieve nirvana on mats that she had spread out in a circle on the grass outside at 7am in the morning. And there were no candles in sight. We were expected to breathe in the fresh morning air and soak in the bright rays of the sun. In retrospect, the Youtube tutorials should have given me some insight into what awaited me, as my search had started from 60-minute intense cardio workouts and within an hour had been narrowed down to easy, four-minute stretches for the inflexible. 

Which was why I was now lying like an awkward human pretzel on a mat that had been used by many before me — not a comforting thought — staring at my Fitbit wondering how long this torture could last and why I hadn’t bought my own yoga mat. With aching limbs, and the gracefulness of an orangutan, we proceeded on to the tree pose, followed by the cobra, the boat and the bridge. Till we came to the goddess pose. There was nothing elegant about this one either. In yoga, I thought bitterly, with its deceptive nature and deceptive names, the goddess pose translated as squats. 

After repeatedly hearing the mantra of ‘bend not break’, positive that we had broken quite a few bodily parts, my broken spirit and I limped in to the last pose.  

“Now the next pose is Savasana. This corpse pose requires lying flat on your back and letting your mind relax. It reduces anxiety and promotes equanimity,” the instructor continued.

Finally my kind of yoga! I thought as I got in position. Bring on the inner peace.  

I was gently nudged awake by the instructor who, unsure if I was asleep or in a deep state of nirvana, had let me be until I had begun to snore. The class had long been over and everyone had left, saving me the embarrassment. I apologised sheepishly, thanked her for her time and told her I was feeling less anxious, more centred, fresh and in harmony with my inner self. Yep, Total Zen Mode.  After all, nothing beats a good nap. However, that last bit I kept to myself.

Published in Dawn, EOS, April 8th, 2018

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