health

The nine stages of a yoga class.

1. The decision

It’s the end of a looooong day at work – a day which was so stressful that you completely missed lunch and only managed to chow down on a couple of Monte Carlo biscuits for afternoon tea. You’re feeling simultaneously wound up and exhausted, which is never a good combination. You can’t even fathom the concept of dragging yourself to the gym.

But wait… your gym offers yoga at night. And yoga is supposed to de-stress you, right? And there’s that whole mindfulness thing, which you don’t really understand but surely it can only be a good thing. Okay. Yoga it is.

2. The crisis

You have literally nothing to wear to yoga. Yes, you have exercise clothes, but nothing adequately yoga-ish to really capture the essence of mindfulness and peace you’re hoping to achieve. All your tops are too tight, and all your pants suck. And you’re not sure if you have any clean socks. And what shoes are you supposed to wear? You can’t remember what you wore to yoga last time.

You pull on a t-shirt and a random hoodie and some trackpants and resolve to go to Lululemon on the weekend to invest in some kind of proper yoga outfit. Even if you have to take out a mortgage in order to do so.

3. Pre-class

Everyone at yoga is wearing Lululemon. In matching pastel colours. And they all have their own yoga mats. You’re going to be the only amateur that has to use the sweaty gym-provided yoga mats… and you forgot to bring a towel. Ewww. You mentally add a yoga mat to your weekend shopping list.

The doors to class open, and everyone confidently waltzes in and starts setting up their mats and confidently settling in to various yoga poses. You walk in, pick a spot near the back, spend ages trying to straighten your yoga mat on the floor, and then have an extensive internal battle about whether or not you should leave your socks on.

Class hasn’t even started and the woman next to you is already doing some kind of fancy salute-the-sun-upside-down-with-both-feet-entwined pose. You know you are meant to be peaceful and mindful… but you hate her a little bit already. Whoops.

4. Class begins

Your yoga teacher, who you have nicknamed Captain Zen, speaks in the kind of tone that suggests she has reached some whole new level of stress-free enlightenment. Also, she says phrases like “feel more, think less” and “breathe in joy and peace”. In contrast, you spend most of your time swearing at your computer and thinking about Monte Carlo biscuits. You want to be her.

5. The epiphany

Why don’t you do yoga every day? Seriously – the room is darkened and everyone is sitting and stretching and breathing, and there is gentle music in the air, and you’re slowly coming to the realisation that your everyday life is far too frantic to possibly maintain. You want to be this relaxed all the time. You’re going to start getting up every morning, 45 minutes earlier, to do yoga before you go to work. You’re going to wear that fancy gear all the time and you’re going to have an entire collection of yoga mats. You’re going to drink green smoothies as you downward-dog the morning away. You’re going to go on yoga retreats to beachside resorts and do yoga as the sun rises over the waves. You will be Miranda Kerr, Gwyneth Paltrow and Gisele Bundchen, all in one.

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6. The battle begins

Okay… downward dogs are harder than you remember. Captain Zen has had you holding the position for about two minutes now, and it’s killing your arms. And you’re trying seriously hard not to fart. And you left your socks on, which you’re seriously regretting now, because you’re slowly sliding off your mat completely. But you refuse to give in, because the woman next to you is watching you from her own downward dog position – and she is going to judge you HARD if you give up now.

7. The battle continues

Since when did yoga become something that actually required a ridiculous degree of balance and strength and general superpowers? You can barely even balance on one foot, and yet the rest of the class is doing some kind of maneuver that requires one foot to be positioned all the way over their heads. Maybe you are not destined to be such a yogi after all. Even mastering Microsoft Excel is easier than this.

8. Meditation time!

Yay! You put your hoodie on, lie down on your sweat-mat, and attempt to close your eyes and empty your mind. Captain Zen encourages you to gently push out all the thoughts that come into your mind. This proves difficult, because there are about six of those thoughts all clamouring around in there. But at least you’re lying down and not attempting a headstand with no hands or something similarly ridiculous. And lying down feels gooood…

9. The I-Will-Never-Be-Miranda-Kerr realisation

Suddenly… the lights are back on and everyone is moving. Oh look. You’re that person that fell asleep during the meditation. Woman next to you is death-staring as she rolls up her purple yoga mat, which matches her purple yoga headband and yoga pants. Her top is perfectly cut to show off just a little bit of her black crop top.

“You’re a snorer,” she informs you in a seriously bitchy tone.

You find yourself wishing that you were doing yoga on the beach, just so you could dig yourself a hole and bury yourself in it forever.

At least you didn’t fart. Loudly.

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