There’s nothing wrong with you.

A thought struck me on the way home tonight; that since I moved to London in late 1999 the most constant and consistent relationship I’ve had has been with my acupuncturist. He’s also an osteopath and I’ve recently started calling him my osteo or (Sexy Osteo on twitter) ‘cos it’s easier to say and doesn’t invite lots of questions about needles, but when I first went to him 13 years ago – when he was a young man and I was little more than a child – it was because he was an acupuncturist and I wasn’t even aware that he practiced osteopathy also. My point is, he knows me as well as anybody and a lot better than some. He gets paid to know me but I choose to believe that this doesn’t cheapen the bond we share. Also, he’s quite sexy so there’s that.

Anyway, I saw him last week and he suggested that my lower back pain has been partially down to over compensation for immobility in my thoracic spine. Which is totally news to me, which was a little annoying but I went with it. And I started thinking about it a lot and it seemed to me that the couple postures I have real trouble with could be to do with the thoracic spine rather than the lower spine, especially as I have hardly any pain any more. So I went through my big white Bikram book and bookmarked those postures (and a few others) to show him and when I saw him today I said
“I have brought a visual aid”
‘I’m trying to think what that means”
“A book”
“Yes, a book, but you’ve never needed a book before. Why can’t you just show me?”
“I guess I wanted to be absolutely clear so that you can help me understand how to adjust my focus in class”
“OK. Show me the book”

He didn’t roll his eyes ‘cos profoundly gifted healers don’t do that. But I felt it.

Turns out not being able to get your finger tips below your nose in eagle is not to do with your thoracic spice so much as your shoulders. “Also your voluptuosity could be a hindrance.” I must’ve looked at him a certain way because he said “your breasts”. Thanks, I got it.

We looked through the photos:
“So what do you mean you can’t do the posture?”
“I can’t get my head to my knee”
“So what do you do?”
“Well, everything else but I can’t get my head on my knee so the posture hasn’t started yet”
“But you have this leg straight, and this leg straight, and your hands here on the floor”
“Just in front of my foot”
“But your head not on your knee”
“So I bend the front leg up to meet my forehead but it never meets”
“And does everyone else have their head on their knee?”
“I wouldn’t know, I don’t look around, I’m too busy trying to get my head on my knee”
[Pause]
“Do you know how hard this is to do”
“I’m telling you I can’t do it, so, yes”
“No, I mean, really, do you realise how hard this is? I think you think there is something wrong with you because you can’t get your head on your knee”
“A little, perhaps”
“You mustn’t think that, this is really hard to do. And this one – this is even harder, don’t worry if you can’t do this one. This is the last posture?”
“Yes”
“Because it’s really hard, you have to be very free here and here and here. Don’t worry. There is nothing wrong with you”
“Ok”
“Say it”
“Ok”
“No. Say it. There is nothing wrong with you”
“There is nothing wrong with me”
“Ok then. Take your top off”

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The Hot One.

Do you remember in LOST when Jack was about to operate on Sarah (was her name Sarah?) and he came back from running the stadium steps, where he’d met Desmond and twisted his ankle, and he was sweating and he says “I showered but I guess I didn’t cool” and she gives him a quizzical look and he says “I’m intense”. Which at the time drew a quizzical look from me, and I felt validated later when the TWoP recapper more or less called him a douche for saying that. Anyway, THAT.

I have showered and I am still sweating. Poor Jack. Sorry, my love, I take it all back. Hey, I’m intense.

Yet again I was home all day and only got my act together and got to class ‘cos I had booked online. Otherwise I would maybe have skipped. But, yet again, I am thrilled that I went to class. I feel I am, not to speak too soon, getting my standing series groove back for the first time since my bikram hiatus. Lots of things came up for me in class this evening which would make good blog material but the only one I remember is the sweat.

In a class which brought my half moon back to where I left off in early January and my first pain free spine twist, I also rediscovered my deeper sweat response. This class was, ladies and gentlemen, what we technically refer to as a hot one. By the end of pranayama I was more or less drenched. It was the kind of sweat that comes off you in sheets rather than trickles. The kind of sweat that gives you friction-free skin and makes it hard to keep your elbows wrapped in eagle. Indianna Jones in the jungle kind of sweat. Sweat that makes you think washing won’t do for this yoga kit, you’ll have to burn it. Sweat that makes your fingerprints so, so, so wrinkly that you might have well just swum the Channel. Sweat that makes you think you’ll be able to speed skate to the changing rooms ‘cos not even the soles of your feet are dry. Sweat that makes you think those nude yoga practitioners really had it right all along. Sweat that makes you frightened that you’re losing so much DNA that by the end of class your personality will be dramatically altered. Perhaps permanently.

Well, too bad, ‘cos I’m going back tomorrow. Unlucky class 13?

Triumph turns to tears (not really, I’m being dramatic)

This post is going to be so postmodern it will actually be post-postmodern. You should hurry up and read it before the postmodern element achieves critical mass and begins to exert its own gravitational force, pulling all the other elements towards it until they all collapse in on themselves and disappear into a black hole of self-referential meta-narrative and get commissioned by BBC FOUR, and I spontaneously transform into an episode of LOST.

In the last 24 hours since my studio review I have learned of the dizzy heights and the crashing lows of internet notoriety (netoriety? Can I make that a thing? Your homework is to use that in a sentence, straight-faced, by Friday).

1. Dizzy Height

The owner of the studio I reviewed yesterday got in touch and we had a lovely conversation today. She asked me if I would like to guest blog for their website at some point in the future and – AND AND AND!!! This is the good bit – added 10 complimentary days onto my 20 day intro ticket so I can do a 30 day challenge! How awesome is that? That’s like, share my joy! So, so gracious and kind. I’m a lucky girl.

2. Crashing Low

When I was leaving the studio this evening the happy and smiling guy who greeted me yesterday was reading out my blog – the bit about how he was so unfeasibly happy and smiling. He was smiling as he read it out, but I ain’t too sure about happy. He said to his friends “Is that a compliment?”  So, the person I was describing was reading my description of him and, having written it, I was listening to it being read out loud, and he was unaware I was the person who had written it but he knew I was listening or at the very least could hear him. This, dear reader, is the postmodern part. Large cracks are starting to appear in the walls of my front room and the lights are flickering. I think I just crossed the streams. As postmodern boundaries go, Russsell Brand should be looking for new representation.

So, here’s the thing. I am SO, SO, SO, SO, SO sorry, happy and smiling guy, for making you doubt yourself and probably for giving you that sick feeling in your tummy when you realise someone is talking about you and you’re not 100% sure it’s not quite mean. I didn’t mean it to be mean, I truly didn’t. It’s just a cheap gag. I’m sorry. I’ve been reacting to quite a lot of stuff recently and had kind of free-floating anger and I’m often so pleased with myself and how I can turn a phrase that I incur some collateral damage. I’m sorry. I hope you get to read this as it’s sincere.

I might also add that your friendliness did genuinely take me by surprise as the reception staff at my old home studio, which I won’t name (Old Street) generally avoided eye contact at all costs and only learned “hi” within the last 8 months or so.

Long story short: a) judge not lest ye be judged; b) fame’s a fickle bitch.

STUDIO REVIEW: HOT BIKRAM YOGA LONDON BRIDGE.

This could be a sign:

I’m not one to make rash decisions or pronouncements (that’s a lie) but I am stopping talking about bikram yoga from now on. I won’t talk about it, I won’t social network (yeah, that’s a verb now) about it, I won’t encourage my friends to try it, I won’t give it any credit or credence at all when I receive compliments or get asked what I’ve been up to. As far as I’m concerned from now on the official story is that I go horseback riding after work every night. In fact, I might even start a back-lash whispering campaign so that everyone knows what a thorough waste of time and constant disappointment it is. I’m not even kidding. I’m so worked up about this I just opened a packet of chicken breast cold cuts with my teeth. TOO MANY people are doing bikram. Studios are TOO CROWDED.  Stop publicising it, delete all the hashtags. Today. As in: now.

How busy was the studio, Caz? Well, thanks for asking, let me tell you. I got to the studio half an hour before class in order to register as a newbie at that studio and buy my intro deal (£35 for 20 days). I was met at the top of the stairs – it’s a basement studio – by an unfeasibly happy and smiling young man who was like unfeasibly happy and smiling. Can you imagine someone being sacked from the Disney Store for being too upbeat? Good, you’re there. Had I booked online? No, I was a newbie. Ah, well we’re fully booked, would you like to be on the waiting list, we’ll get you registered and keep fingers crossed. No problem, I’ll go on the waiting list.

Go downstairs, de-shoe, de-sock, complete form. Sit and wait. The teacher, an utterly brilliant teacher called Sanjay who I have practiced with before (and the reason why I picked this class) is at the studio door taking numbers off students. Literally, when you confirm your online booking you’re given a giant red laminated number and that gets you past the double doors into the studio. No number, no practice, cowboy. This, it strikes me, is inspired. It’s so good. It’s a perfectly simple system and it gives the teachers more face time before class. Awesome. Why don’t all the studios do this? Because, to be candid, they’re not all as good as Hot Bikram Yoga London Bridge. For real.

Finally I get called over, I can go to class. I get a number. I am number 81. I’m just going to leave that one there.

I get in class and I am last to arrive (as far as I noticed) and the first thing that strikes me is the sheer amount of mirror I am surrounded by. Secondly I am struck by the pleasing elephant grey carpet. But wait, a couple of steps in I realise this isn’t carpet, this is mats. The mats are already all laid out, not only squished up side by side like floor tiles but in some cases actually overlapping. Sanjay is already going through injuries with people so I just effing PICK a mat and kneel. The class was awesome. Truly and genuinely. That’s for another post though.

At this point (I mean right now writing, not in class. Woah! Fractured timeline. Call J J Abrams. So meta.) I take a deep breath and stop reacting because when I say the studio was busy – and it clearly was – it was totally FINE. Like, actually really lovely. For one, it’s easily the nicest studio I’ve been to (in the UK, which is still pretty big as comparing it to ground floor studios with an unobstructed view of the sunset/moonarc over the Rocky Mountains just isn’t fair). There are maybe three pillars which obstruct the view of the teacher from certain vantages but they are clad in mirror so it’s kind of ok. And the sound system is great. In fact it sounded to me almost the whole time like Sanjay was behind me (I couldn’t see him) which was a nice feeling. Even though it’s a basement there is much natural light, and it has windows that shjshjshjshjshjshj open and shut like a Miami beach house. And even though there was some brushing of thigh and elbow getting in and out of posture (there may have been a slight nose on calf muscle incident also) it was totally ok as everyone seems to accept the compact nature of the practice and the two neighbours were very sweet and smiley. In fact the atmosphere in the room was much different to the one I’m used to at my old studio. Different in a good way. It was chilled and not competitive or smug at all. And I’m already looking forward to going back.

However, and this is what made me a LITTLE fricking fractious, the changing room was an utter nightmare. I’ve never had to queue to get OUT of a changing room. It’s madness. Like, properly gridlocked. I’m not one to exaggerate (that’s a lie) but even if I were (which I am) I’m not right now (I’m really not). I have been turned upside down in mosh pits, I know what I’m talking about. It’s still the nicest studio I’ve been to in the UK, though.

When I managed to chin my way out of the changing room, as primally charged as the last person on the last chopper out of Saigon, my friend from before asked me how I got on. I said, that changing room is insane. And he smiled and said “I know, right?” Yeah, I guess it is what it is and now I know. I said I would be back tomorrow for Nicola’s class and he said to come at 9pm it’s a nicer and quieter class. So maybe that’s what I will do. Make a plan, stick to it, baby steps, do what you love, I can’t do this but I’m doing it anyway, it’s all good, breathe, smile, soften your gaze. Maybe breathe some more just to be on the safe side.

Conclusion, I wasn’t prepared for how busy it would be but I loved the studio and fully endorse it. Although, clearly, bikram is complete balderdash, Emperor’s New Clothes, license to print money – and you should be doing rock climbing instead.

I’m not sure if that this wasn’t more of a freeform organic venting than a studio review but I promise I won’t let that happen again (that’s a lie).

This is how close Hot Bikram Yoga London Bridge is to the Shard, I took this standing just outside the door that leads down to reception:

Seascape. Sea Escape.

I have a pinterest board called “the ocean”. It’s not clever, it’s not meant to be, it’s literally just pictures of the ocean. Or oceans. Water, blue, white, sky, blue, white. Figures, anonymous, definite but indistinct. Living between the sky and the ocean. As I yearn to do.

Pictures like this one:

Image

This one is also fairly typical:

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One more for luck:

Image

Are you getting the general idea? Like I say, they’re not particularly original – in fact my tastes evidently lean very heavily towards the romantic and mythologised when it comes to water – and they’re not my own work. But each one takes my breath away. Some people like cars, some people like cats (please!), some people completely lose it over a lovely room setting. I say screw rooms, we’re animals, we’re meant to be in the wild. (If you saw my house you might think I actually do live in the wild. I need a housekeeper.)

And yet – and yet! – I live in London. I spent a while in Hawaii with a good friend a few years back. I was in a very dark, unhappy place within myself and I suspect I wasn’t the best company. But besides all that, she would ask me if I wanted to go to the mountains, do I want to go on a hike, do I want to see sugar cane, pineapple plantations? No, why would I? You live LITERALLY ten paces from the Pacific Ocean. I want to be right here. Forever, preferably, if that could be arranged. I would find a place and sit on the sand with my elbows on my knees and my chin in my hands at around 10am. And a few minutes would go by and I would look at my watch and it was 3pm. I was mesmerised. I mean day after day it was all I would do, and all I wanted to do. (Don’t worry, my friends were at work, I’m not totally anti-social.)

It was so beautiful, and yet ask me why and I can’t tell you. It’s so fundamental and self-evident to me that I can’t break it down. It felt like the one time I could believe that the Earth is round, and it belonged to me. That kind of beauty, or rather the attempt to analyse it, can drive a person crazy. It’s like, this beauty can only be evidence of a God. And now that we have evidence, we have no need for faith – so in the face of certainty what is left for us but insanity?

I’m going to get back there. And live. I have a plan, perhaps as definite and indistinct as the figures in my photos, and I can’t share it with you because it is sacred. But I’m going to get back there.