It was rush-hour. Everyone was rushing. Me in particular. And everything was agin me, as the say in Barnsley.
I was never going to make it to my relaxing yoga class at Hoyland Leisure Centre at this rate.
I’d flown out of the office 15 minutes later than I should have done (cue eyeball rolls about my perpetual lateness from husband, friends and family). I had run all the way to the car in a bid to claw back a few vital seconds. And as I leapt behind the wheel all hot, sweaty and harassed, I was adrenaline-charged and determined to make it.
Though after inching some 400 yards in the ensuing 20 minutes, the adrenaline had soured to something nasty in my veins. I swore a blue streak; uttered blasphemies and ugly names for bodily parts, the way you can do only within the confines of your car,
Other similarly stuck drivers turned a blind eye to the wheel-thumping nutter mouthing like a hungry goldfish. They seemed so much calmer; clearly, they didn’t have the stress of a de-stressing yoga session to be at in 20 minutes’ time.
As I joined the M1 at Meadowhall, the clock said 5.59pm; in just 11 minutes, they’d all be rolling out their little rubber mats in the sports hall. And where would I be? Birdwell if I was lucky.
Now normally, readers, this is the point at which I would gleefully have given up and headed home for a the edible equivalent of a yoga wind-down - a slice of toast and Marmite.
But I didn’t; I ploughed on determinedly, arriving minutes after class had started. So desperate was I not to miss any more, I stripped off in the corridor, hoping against hope that Barnsley Council cutbacks had hit the CCTV budget at leisure centres, and tiptoed in,
I don’t really do exercise. On rare occasions when I have embarked on something akin to it, I allow any little excuse to stop me at the first hurdle. But yoga; after just a few weeks, it’s got to me.
This is partly because I can do it. I cannot run very far. I cannot hit a ball - with anything. But, for some unfathomable reason, at 50 I’m still bendy. Never mind touching my toes, I can trail my knuckles on the floor.
Okay, I know we’re starting with the really easy stuff and that I may never get as far as the Fetus and the One-Legged Pigeon, but I feel quite comfortable doing the Cobra, the Auspicious Pose and even the Downward Dog.
But mainly, it’s because within seconds, you’ve forgotten about the hellish journey that got you there. You focus entirely on making your body do what she asks of it - and not letting off while you’re holding things in. (A woman on a distant mat did a little toot the other week; sooo embarrassing).
I don’t believe in all the Eastern philosophical mumbo jumbo, though; for me, the calm comes come from the woman who takes the class. The mating calls of whales have nothing on her.
I lie there on the parquet, focusing entirely on her voice and the taking of deep, floor polish and plimsol-scented breaths. Everything else is banished from my mind and I’m away with the fairies. Every single time, I fall asleep. Why can’t I do that at midnight?