live from the BBC
Our guest blogger is a BBC news presenter who unwittingly wandered into our 6:30am POWER JAM class when here visiting a childhood friend. A “flash” two-seater is a fancy vehicle; poor “Nina” is a friend of our BBC visitor and has already forgiven her. Almost.
A Roomful of Hot Dogs with Fabulous Buns
If you’re ever lucky enough to stay in Santa Rosa with a woman called
Elly May, you may consider yourself blessed beyond measure. Everything
will be good, splendid, almost perfect.
But may I hazard a tiny piece of advice: You may possibly absorb a
little too much wine, or a G&T made by a seven-foot man who likes his
drinks in proportion…and you may be tempted to say “Hell yeah” to the
suggestion that dawn yoga is a good idea.
Events at dawn always sound so poetic, ethereal, romantic…sunrises are
beautiful, artistic, uplifting. But some things scheduled for this rare
time should be avoided. Duels, for example, are injurious to health, as
are firing squads, and early news reading shifts leave a lot to be
desired…but sleep, for instance.
Sleep is underrated in many households. Some folk feel guilty if they
remain on their memory foam mattress toppers after the demands of pets
or small children call. Others seem to get remorse if they’re not burning
calories before they’ve even eaten any.
This is where the vulnerability hits you. You may have packed a capsule
wardrobe which is a trifle snug; you may have pounced too heartily on the
proffered steak, tortillas, and lemon bars; or you may just be an
over-contoured English girl. But you are also delusional enough to think
that a quick jaunt around a silver lake has melted several pounds and that
FlippinHotJammyYoga in a WombRoom will make the rest disappear. There is
only one thing about FHJY in a WR that’s a good idea…that it’s in the dark.
So your phone alarm drags you awake through a dream of confusing
weirdness, you put your stretchy pants on inside out and back to front and
brush your teeth. You just have time to reverse the pants and find the
second sock when a 10-pint flagon of of water is thrust at you and you’re
bundled into a flash two-seater heading out on one of those enormous roads
they make in the USA….
You arrive at the BasketOfPuppies yoga studio and for a moment your
heart soars…no one is here, it’s cancelled, they all have flu or
couldn’t find their second sock. Then a ghostly figure appears in the
doorway, you head into the gloom and are informed that the discipline is
performed sockless on tiny runways with insanely thin towels and,
confusingly, life-sized rubber Lego bricks. The thought of just building a
small shed to hide in enters your head but then Yogi Bear arrives and the
days’ Smiling begins.
Californians smile so much they could reduce a Russian air stewardess to
tears and she’s probably made of salt to some degree. They could laser
the smile on a Barbie doll just by looking at it. Through my
increasing doubt that I may have made a lethal mistake in agreeing to this
enterprise, I raise a weak facial greeting.
On command, I remove my trainers and socks, fervently hoping that
Californians’ feet smell the same as English ones, as I have broken out in
a nervous sweat. I take my flagon, mini-runway, and tissue-towel into the
yoga room and immediately break out into a much more impressive Olympic
quality sweat. Yogi Bear has mistakenly left the heating on its top
setting all night…the bill will be astronomical.
My brain, with no breakfast, not enough sleep, and on holiday for
heaven’s sake, cannot comprehend why no one mentions that the room is like
a Vesuvian basement. I consider speaking up but am stunned to silence by
a line of nubile nymphs entering the volcanic chamber. They are all,
without exception, younger than me, lean as leopards, dressed in fancy
Lycra bodycondoms and about a quarter of my weight. They are ballerinas
to my Blue Whale, ninjas to my Sumo wrestler, Shakespearian forest faeries
to my Bottom. Feeling overwhelmingly that nothing can save me now, Yogi
does the only humane thing in her power…and switches off the lights.
The Ninjas lay out their runways and tissues and pile up their rubber
Lego bricks, so I do the same, grabbing extra bricks to make my shed when the
time comes. The heat is disconcerting and I locate the flagon which could
save my life…and then the music starts. For a fleeting moment, I think of
all the super-sized Americans, still in their burger-induced comas, and
wonder if I just stood next to them when they eventually consider it’s
morning…would I look like a supermodel?
But the music is good and Yogi is saying something about dogs. I am
relieved that she is facing forwards so cannot see me…in fact only a
couple of Ninjas need observe me at all and I could escape ridicule unless
one starts laughing aloud and they switch on the lights to spectate on my
discomfort. But they’re all far too busy saluting some dog or planet or
just waving their arms around to create a small breeze. I make a mental
note to Google a boiler repair man for Yogi when the class is over…if I
Salute Saturn, Get Down Dog, collapse flat but you’re only allowed two
seconds…leap up again like a manic puppy, lunge, grip floor with toes to
avoid keeling over, keel over anyway but pretend it’s a side
lunge…Salute Uranus…would have been Saturn but I couldn’t get up high
enough so I am level with everyone’s bums. Cobra, half moon, more dogs
and then Warrior…yeah, like I could defeat anyone now. The music is
good but the beat is killing me. Naively, I thought yoga was all soft
slow smoothness to whale sounds, yet here am I behaving like a Dalmatian in
spasm after eating too much sugar…please could this dog just stay down
for a bit? Is there a nap pose? Then I have a stroke of creative
brilliance and invent a yoga pose…the Fetal! I curl up sideways in a
ball and have a little rest. A trickle of sweat runs down my side, I do
not smell of roses. I check but no one is looking, they’re all busy
clenching, so I lie a little longer in this Womb Room, a five-foot-ten-inch-long foetus, begging for delivery. Then I remember the bricks.
It appears you need an awful lot of rubber bricks to make a rubber shed
and, short of crawling around the Womb and stealing from the Ninjas, I am
foiled. But the rest has restored me a tiny bit and I begin again,
heaving myself upwards to salute some deity or astronomical feature only
to find that everyone else is slithering through a cobra…I let gravity
take me down. It occurs to me that yoga should be performed in a
spaceship…we could all go down to NASA’s place and frolic around in the
simulator. I’d be awesome with no earthly pull…and it would be
cooler…but I’d still like the lights off…it’s often a good thing for
I am pulled out of my reverie by the hideous sensation of multiple
rivulets of perspiration trickling down my back…I’m a mini Mississippi
Delta, classy. Time for drinkies, I think, realising the irony that it
was drinkies that got me into this mess in the first place. At least I’m
not doing this with a hangover…this time. I sit up in what I hope
looks like that feet-stuck-together pose but probably just looks like an
arthritic sloth, and have a drink. The water is freezing and slips down
like a beautiful glacial stream plunging down a crevasse. I have some
more and then my old lady fear of wanting to wee in the middle of a
clenched pose rears its head and I put the bottle down…just as everyone
else leaps up in salutation of something or other…these Californians
are such a positive bunch….
It’s a jolly good job I did stop glugging down the cool stuff, as within
seconds we’re all on our knees cocking one leg like a spaniel by a
lamppost. Clench girl, grip those pelvic floor muscles as if your life
depends on it. Then we’re cocking our legs sideways with our, well, my
wrist muscles burning like a firework.
I faint inside with the pain but remain Britishly stiff on the
outside…or I’m medically frozen with the fear of my wrist actually
snapping off. I keel over in a controlled and, I hope, polite way and
lie as dead on the ridiculously thin mat…I want a memory foam mat
topper next time…this one is just pretending to be a mat but will
never pass the final exam. Ironically, I am in the corpse pose…Yogis do
have a sense of humour…like the Joker in Batman.
We must be getting near the end of the session, surely, as I feel like
I’ve aged a decade instead of 50 minutes. I worry prematurely about
the small children I may scare as I leave the building with a face like a
senile beetroot and hair like Robinson Crusoe…but that all assumes I
will make it out alive.
I look across to the nearest Ninja, I shall call her Nina, and am
slightly taken back by the fact that in the middle of an exercise class
she has regressed into a toddler playing at being a coffee table. Why?
I worry about her wrists which must surely be molten. I sit there in my
Sitting Pose wondering if some heat-induced brain freeze caused this
wanton show of freestyle furniture frenzy when I notice all the other
Ninjas are at it. Shit! How the Hades am I going to do that? Being
slightly proud, I consider attempting a Coffee Table but then, seeing a
vision of myself landing on my own crushed neck vertebrae, I desist and
vow to live a life devoid of personal pride…for safety’s sake.
So while they’re all tabling away, I play with my bricks. Staying with
the furniture theme, I make a garden seat and perch upon it until the
discomfort of rubber Lego making its way up my butt brings this to an end.
I content myself with constructing a retaining wall to keep all my sweat
I am pretty sure we are into the stretches now because everyone is
standing on one leg like demented flamingos. I am delighted to see that
while I have perfected this manoeuvre through years of diligent Pilates practise
in Cornish church halls, the Nina Ninja in front of me is seriously rubbish at it. She may be able to outdog all canines in the downward direction but she’s crap at being a leggy pink bird!
We wrap ourselves around ourselves in an odd pose which would be ideal
if we had to save space and I find myself slightly hampered by the fact
that my stomach gets in the way. Ninjas don’t have stomachs, their entire
sustenance is funny flavoured water and goo in pouches. I wondered once
whether it would be worth it to be deliciously slim…but then some blue
cheese walked past. I sumo-wrestled it to the ground and onto my
plate…it was delicious.
And then it’s over. We’re all clapping…at what?! Definitely not my
performance…possibly Nina the Table’s daring exploits. Or just with
utter relief. I join in enthusiastically…as my relief at not letting
rip a single fart during any of the Down Dogs is immense.
After a small snooze on the runway while the others chat about
Californian things, I raise my prematurely aged stiffened limbs through a
strong gravitational pull and stand up…looking no doubt like a mild
version of Bigfoot. I stagger into the cool lobby and search through
dense mind fog for my shoes. I assume the lack of sharpness to my senses
is due to the immense tsunami of endorphins flooding my brain. I also put
this down to my inexcusable rudeness when Yogi asks me if I enjoyed it.
But I am like George Washington and the Cherry Tree…I cannot tell a lie.
Yogi is lovely and gives me a mat, well, what she thinks is a mat. I give
her ten dollars to promise never to force me into her Womb ever
again. We part friends.
Moments later, in the flash car heading back to a quadruple espresso, I
feel smug and proud…a bad combo. Moments after that I am punished, too
stiff to get out of the car, even with a hoist.
The following morning I pose in bed..the Dead Dog, my signature dish, I