Yoga wasn’t for me when I was younger. But in middle age, it really is making me a calmer, happier, fitter person
I DID A WEIRD, HIPPY THING yesterday – I took off my shoes and socks and I went for a little walk, barefoot on the grass.
I had just finished stretching, after a run in my favourite park, and I noticed that the soles of my trainers were catching somewhat in the lush grass I was treading.
I thought: I’d really like to walk on that, with my shoes off. And something in me answered: Well, go on then. No-one’s stopping you.
So I did. I took my shoes and socks off and walked just a little circle, about 100 metres in all. Around a stately old tree and back through clover that was gratifyingly cool on my soles.
I felt uncommonly calm and at ease with myself, and the feeling lingered for a while… including when I twice had to skirt around some dog turds. But even they seemed not unpleasant: genteel like the park they’d been laid in, small and firm like chocolate fingers.
I was having a bit of an epiphany, I realised. Here I was, actually feeling completely relaxed and at peace, totally unlike my normal self…. So what on Earth was happening to me?
The run and the sunshine will, of course, have had something to do with my blissed-out state. But my real secret is Yoga. Seniors yoga.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been joining a small group of charming Cotton Tops and our lovely, Yummy Mummy-type instructor, in the community room next to the allotments that I dig on.
From the moment that I lie down on my £7.99 Argos Yoga Mat and two or three bits of my spine just crack back into the correct place, I start to feel better. And it just keeps improving from there…
With it being a seniors class and all, the emphasis is on very gently coaxing recalcitrant body parts back into some sort of action.
I particularly like the bit when we Open the hips out, as mine own pelvis has been seized up for months, like a rusty bike left out in the rain all winter.
The Mummy gives us blocks and bands to help stretch out our legs and relieve the tension at source – although I do have to be careful not to knock gardening manuals off the disconcertingly proximate Allotment Association bookshelves with my toes
And, as I ease into a Warrior II, I gaze out on the expanse of blossoming summer plots beyond and feel something give me a little tickle, inside and out.
We always finish just by lying down, blissed out, as The Mummy whispers how each body part – from the toes to the back to the features of the face – is feeling relaxed. Then we sit up and give thanks to the Earth for its support. Namaste.
Last week, we lay for ages with our feet up, frog-like, on a chair while The Mummy came round and tucked us all in with a blanket. My tongue almost rolled up into my head with pleasure.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had an awful lot of that kind of pampering in my life for the past 40 years or so. And certainly not for £8 a pop!
But, money and luxury aside, the best thing about yoga is that it works: inside and out.
It’s not only got me walking barefoot in the grass but running again, almost pain-free – which is something that several weeks of expensive physiotherapy never got close to doing.
Of course, it could all be a blip. A temporary infatuation. But right now, I’m convinced that Yoga is the real goods.
I think I’m in love, because whenever I think about it, I start humming that Hot Chocolate song, I’ll Put You Together Again.
Having tried it unsuccessfully back in my 20s – when I was too impatient to sit and do the breathing and the exercises properly – Yoga also seems to me that oft-mentioned but rarely found thing: the activity that is Better When You’re Older.
Oh, why do I even doubt it? Yoga is The Shit, people! It’s the fucking Holy Grail!
Now, please excuse me while I levitate outta here. Namaste!