The accidental yogi
The devil wears yoga pants
Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m not entirely new to yoga, having tried a few different types of classes over the past 10 years or so, but I’m certainly not a yogi, not a spiritual person and not bendy, flexible or remotely stretchy in any way. And that’s certainly not me in this photo! But when I reached my absolute rock bottom this year – stress levels super high, energy levels low, lack of fitness, extremely poor health and just a general feeling that things were NOT OK in my life – my boss (a dedicated yogi) suggested I should embark on a yoga practice. Not just do a few classes now and again, but to really dedicate myself to a practice to see and feel the fundamental differences it can supposedly make to one’s world.
I nodded along insincerely in agreement, 100-percent certain on the inside that it wasn’t for me. After all, I don’t have time for yoga – I live in Ibiza where the seasonal workload is so heavy in summer, I work around the clock. How can I possibly fit a class in to my schedule, not to mention the time spent getting to and from class, showering, washing my hair and the like afterwards? I’m not even really sure I believe in yoga – shouldn’t I just go the gym, go for a run or do some form of cardio exercise to lose a bit of weight and improve my cholesterol levels and heart rate? I doubt a bunch of posturing is really going to do much for me. It’s hippy dippy weird spiritual stuff – good luck to you if it’s your thing, but omming and downward dogging are my worst nightmare.
And anyway, I haven’t got a thing to wear.
Then the opportunity came up to document my progress via this blog. So certain were my yogic connections Natalie Chaponnel of White Ibiza and new yoga teacher Sebastien Carincotte of Hot Yoga Ibiza that yoga would change my life, they presented me with a public platform where I am free to honestly share my experiences. No editing, no lies. And so the accidental yogi was born…
With three types of class on offer at Hot Yoga Ibiza, I obviously opted for the quickest, seemingly easiest class for my first week of participation (no way are you getting me in that hot Bikram-style class. Ever.), a one-hour warm Hatha yoga session, practiced in a room heated to 28 degrees. I donned my oldest pair of leggings, a little tight around the waistband because let’s be honest, I’ve eaten one too many bowls of creamy cheesy pasta lately, and a faded old club promo tee that was covered in cat hair. Those yogis will shun me from their pristine studio if I don’t dress the part, I thought. I’ll just do one class and won’t be welcomed back.
Far from it. ‘Those yogis’ were totally wrapped up in themselves and their own practice, no one even batting an eyelid as I burst into the studio with a minute to spare before Sebastien begins the breathing exercises that start the class. I struggle to keep up, finding it difficult to connect with my breath, secretly breathing in and out a few more times between his instructions. When the asanas began, I found out – as I had suspected – I am completely inflexible. I cannot touch my toes without bending my knees, I can’t bend to one side without my hips popping out of alignment and I fall over every time we balance on one leg.
The last time I did yoga my body wasn’t so resistant to it, but I guess I was a lot younger then. Years of being hunched over a computer screen and sitting in a desk chair for 12 hour stints were taking their toll. I made it through the first class – swearing, muttering, blushing, eyes rolling – and started to wonder. Was this some kind of cruel joke? Were my benefactors laughing at me behind my back? It was easy for them to gloat, as they elegantly lift their bodies into finger stands and contort themselves into strangely named positions like the crow and the frog. The devil, it seemed to me, was wearing yoga pants, but I wasn’t going to let him, her, or yoga, beat me.
The next day, I was aching in places I didn’t even know existed on my body. All I could think of was Ibuprofen and spending the day in bed. “You need to come to class,” says Sebastien. “As soon as you possibly can. It will help.” I can barely walk. I don’t know how I am going to change gears in my car my arm muscles feel so weak. Pulling on my leggings is like torture. But I want to win at yoga.
So off I go to class once more…