I am becoming middle-aged. No one knows for sure when middle-age happens as it's only when you reach the end of your life, dragging each ragged breath as the darkness draws near, feasting on the lunatic bodies of your devoted acolytes in order to gain their souls and their sustenance for one breath more (at least, that's how I intend to go out), that you look back and divide your age in half and say, "Ha! That was middle-age. That was the middle of my life."
Middle age is the Wednesday of the life. Looking backwards finds only Mondays, looking forwards you are ever hoping for that Friday feeling. And then you get to Friday you look back and think only "Ha, that was Wednesday." And then the sweet oblivion of the weekend (Death).
Actually I quite enjoy life, but also I enjoy pretending to be a goth more.
But I'm going to assume that middle-age is roughly now in the hope that thinking that half my life is gone will spur me on to achieve greater things. So with all this in mind I'm going to do a Yoga challenge. Specifically I'm going to do Yoga with Ariene's 30-day yoga programme.
Part of fighting depression, middle-age spread where you grow and nurture a pot-belly and chins plentiful. attempting to remain VIRILE at all costs is the need to do exercise. And I've decided that the type of exercise I really want to do is the kind that hurts my stomach and my shoulders. So I'm doing yoga.
Some people love exercise. I do not. I gather great joy in turning up at a run meet (I TOLD you I'm middle-aged now) and spoiling everyone's ambitious lustre and cheery up-and-at-'em-ness by saying something like "At least when it's over we'll be back exactly where we started, but in pain."
There is a special type of loathing reserved in my heart for fit people: even when I make an effort and become a bit more like them, I'm becoming slightly more like those spiny, insufferable idiots. Tramping around in the cold and wet, sweat secretions leaking down their too-beautiful bodies, and laughing at each other's running jokes (that is, jokes about running, not long-running jokes, which is also one of their stupid jokes. One of the biggest jokes in running circles is "running is good for you," a clue as to how insufferable these things really are).
And I saw all this, and I looked down on it all (which is pretty much how I look at anything, down on it), and I decided to do yoga.
I had gone to the gym the day before and floundered around on the floor trying to do sit-ups. This is part of the correct way to do sit-ups, to try to do them and not actually do them.
Oh, as a child, you think doing a sit up is lying on the floor and then sitting UP? You poor, misguided fool. Doing a sit-up is actually lying on the floor and sitting only partially up, not so much "up" per se, as "less inclined in the downwards direction." Perhaps while holding some kind of object like a ball or a kettle bell (called so because it neither is nor resembles a kettle or a bell).
For this reason, everything hurt. You can't just do exercise and have one part of your body hurt. It all has to hurt. Everywhere. All the time.
Then I was doing yoga on top of this. Like a pain coulis on top of an agony yoghurt.
Adriene is lovely. And I hate her. She's cheerful, she's kind, she's clear, she's brilliant at yoga. She's the perfect guide. And she is calmly inducing me to slowly punish myself by assuming stress-positions used in torture, and by my own choice. Which seems to me to be the most evil thing of all.
Afterwards I feel incredibly calm, at peace, I feel good about my body and feel centred and my carefully cultured cynicism and sarcasm is almost faded.
It starts off with sitting down. Brilliant, I think. I LOVE sitting down. I'm excellent at it. But yoga has yoga'd sitting down so much that now it's a kind of sitting down that hurts. Sitting down is normally the perfect kind of activity if you're expecting something to do that will definitely not hurt. Yoga has changed all that now. You'll sit in a way that will stretch your little leggies until sitting down seem strenuous. Thanks yoga.
You're guided through some more movements and before you know it you'd doing a Downward Dog, which I'm pretty sure is how I would describe myself lying drunk in the gutter, but this involves holding yourself in an inverted long-V shape, and moving from that into a plank, which I'm pretty sure is how I would describe myself lying comatose in street also. This means the next day that eating is difficult because my arms and shoulders ache so much, moving my hand to my mouth is an effort.
What hath thou wrought, yoga? You've made sitting down and eating a bowl of cereal difficult. A thing I thought no-one could ruin.
However, I do feel a bit good about my body. And more importantly: smug.
Boats are lovely. Have you ever been on a boat? I have. I went punting. It was when I worked for the local government and we claimed it as a team-building day. If you're a UK taxpayer you literally paid for me to go punting once. (It was only like £10) .
The "boat pose" is where you imagine you are being sucked into a tiny pipe via your anus as you fold in half with your feet in the air and your hands floating by your knees. It's like you're an arrow pointing the way to Hell. Only the Hell is the boat pose so you are pointing at yourself.
Being on a boat means you're in for a lovely time. You're probably going to France to get some nice cheese and some cheap vin de table.
Being in the boat pose means you're in for a terrible time. You're probably going to die.
Then there's the high-lunge. Which is where you do a lunge, but a really, impossibly deep one. And then try and unzip your body from the navel upwards by reaching in the worst direction to reach: up.
My shoulders and back the next day, although incredibly sore, feel absolutely delicious when I prod them around and massage myself. I spend most of the next day prodding myself.
And throughout all this Ariene remains incredibly charming, buoyant, relaxed and clear. Imagine a marvellous marble statue came to life and painfully disemboweled you while singing a sweet lullabye so heartrendingly beautiful you cried tears of joy. It's like that.
I have been standing up for three decades now. Three whole decades of standing up. Some of that time, albeit the minority, has been standing only on one leg. So why is it, then, when I stand on one leg whilst sticking an arm in the air that it's suddenly one of the most difficult challenges of my whole life?
I'm wobbling more than an indecisive weebl doing the high-wire on stilts in the middle of an earthquake whilst being asked about difficult morality binds by people who are translating the questions from Dutch into morse code by twanging on the tightrope with a pneumatic drill.
The only thing that's getting me through this is knowing that breakfast is on the other side.
Then my legs decide to wang themselves right up the poo-hole, figuratively speaking (although I imagine when I get good at yoga I'll be able to do that for the reals), and refuse to bend in ways I know they are perfectly capable of bending. I'm not asking for leg origami here, I just want to do a table top. Stupid meat puppet.
Anyway, I'm glad that yoga could show me the way to be furious about myself and resent my body. Namaste.
You spend the last three days complaining about how difficult it is, only to start to find it easy and want to complain about that. This is why you need yoga, to stop you from being such an insufferable moaner all the time.
Except that yoga makes you equally as insufferable, just in another direction on the spectra of "annoying dickheads."
My asthma flaring up today, which annoys me when it genuinely interferes with something I want to do as my asthma is meant to be only used as an excuse for getting out of something I don't want to do, or for crapping out of running and maintaining sympathy from other runners despite being an obvious weakling.
Maybe I am getting stronger and better at this as it's not agony. Then again. I'm only 13% of the way through the 30 day challenge.
I've probably just got incredibly cocky and my inevitable downfall is just around the corner.
The sweat I generate is almost exclusively on the top of my head and runs down and itches my ears. Namaste.