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live from the BBC

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

cuddly girls!


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