What do you want to return to?

pink sky thinking

Pink sky thinking

Roll out, press play and zone in: online yoga classes have been a source of pleasure these past 17 weeks. It’s becoming easier to see the unrolling of the mat as a balm to my increasingly enervated mood, as the endless torrent of gloom spews out of the news feed. On non-running days (and runners of senior years need more of these to imbue each run with strength and purpose) you need the positivity a run delivers, without the physical wear and tear. Yoga provides this, and a decent stretch for tight muscles and inflamed joints, garnished with a generous dose of kindness.

A friend of mine, Carrie, is a kindly yogi, and a friend of mine and roughly  four million other people, Adriene Mishler, is another one. I tune in to the first weekly, the second daily (I recommend Adriene’s Home 30 day challenge). Both women are generous,  dispensing their wisdom free of charge (although I know far more about Carrie’s finances than Adriene’s and can safely assume she is no millionaire, so I pay what I can afford) and both make me feel better.

Up to a point. There’s something I struggle with, and that’s the whole affirmation thing. Sometimes one yogi or another tells her adoring viewers to ‘set an intention’ for the practice, to intone some phrase or other, and repeat it ‘on the outbreath’. It sets up a panicky wracking event in my small brain cells, coupled with a cynical vision of those perfume advertisements that everyone takes the piss out of, in which some fabulously overpaid actor draped in chiffon exhales a word like ‘be….’ and pouts moodily.

What’s my affirmation for the week at 8am on a Monday morning, perched on my ‘sit bones’ on my yogamat in my pyjamas?’

‘Get my work done’

‘Don’t eat half a jar of peanut butter on toast for breakfast’

‘Be kind’

I am particularly sick of that last one. Invariably the people hashtagging ‘bekind’ on the likes of Twitter are the least likely exemplars of lovingkindness, but their exhortations are accepted by the gullible, who believe that they are nicer than ordinary people, underneath all the gloss and trappings.

Yesterday Adriene Mishler had entitled her Day 15 of Yoga practice ‘Return’ and requested that we asked ourselves ‘what is it that I want to return to? What feels like home?’

Once again I was thrown into a fever by the weight of Adriene’s expectations of me. I did not want to let her down. But what do I want to return to?

A pre- Covid world? Well, yes, a global epidemic is truly terrible, but on the other hand my life before it hit us wasn’t all beer and skittles.

Childhood? Not really, except that I would have been able to proceed with A level German if I sent a note to my 17-year-old self  prior to my return. But I’d have to go through the heartache of my late 40s again.

A world where there’s little or no single-use plastic and factory farming and fewer cars on the road? No Kardashians and the cult of celebrity, Trump or Assad? Of course, but I think Adriene is talking about putting my hands to my heart space and returning to the ‘real authentic me’ and all that kind of talk is flustering because I don’t know who that is and my thoughts just turn to the unsightly yellowy tough skin on the soles of my feet and wishing I had the defined abs and better calves of proper athletes.

Turns out the true authentic me is a total airhead.

There’s a rumour in the news that the Government may decree all over 50s to self isolate until all this is over. I am not sure where this leaves Mr BJ so it’s clearly a silly rumour, but I’m not sure if self isolation would be ideal for this inept yogi. I would navel gaze myself into insanity.

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