I’ve started weekly yoga classes in my office boardroom. Ridiculous, right? A great idea, difficult in execution. Not for logistical reasons – there’s plenty of space, I don’t mind getting my feet out in front of my colleagues and the instructor is excellent (despite being abnormally bendy).
But it hurts. It pushes my body into the most unnatural positions and tries to keep them there for obscene lengths of time. I’m told, whilst I’m holding my left leg in the air, pushing my right knee to the floor and twisting my belly button to face the back of the room, that it’s doing me good. Opening up my liver to cleanse my body. Lifting my organs, helping my stomach to digest food properly (I’m starving anyway, there’s nothing to bloody digest).
It’s doesn’t help that I’m probably one of the most naturally inflexible people ever. I’m not exaggerating here: remember how you used sit cross-legged in school assemblies for ages? Well, I couldn’t. Seriously. And flexibility doesn’t improve with age.
So why do we do it? Why do we (and I say we because I’m certain I’m not alone here) dutifully scamper along to the every back-breaking, fear-inducing, muscle-tearing exercise class that magazines, online forums, bloggers, our friends and the Virgin Active marketing team so dutifully tell us we should?
We’re a curious animal and, what’s more, we all have within us the dangerous emotion of FOMO (fear of missing out, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past year. Some people also say YOLO – you only live once – perhaps another reason why we do this stuff to ourselves). Our fear that we might be missing out on something that could potentially make us healthier (i.e. skinnier) is too much for many of us – and I’m including myself here – to bear. There’s something strangely satisfying about coming into work the next day, shoulders in agony, back stiff as a board, but being able to share your pain with others who have also sacrificed mobility for, apparently, their health and well-being.
After last weeks soul-cleansing, hip-breaking experience I was in pain for days. I couldn’t touch my toes or, even worse, lift my arms up to straighten my hair. Things were significantly stiffer, not more relaxed as I had been promised, and I vowed never to return.
One week on and there I was in downward dog, shoulders shaking, vowing once more never to try yoga again. The problem is I already know that, come next week, I’ll be there, contorting my body into yet another unachievable position. After all, it’s a conversation piece. And I paid in advance.