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Yoga, didgeridoos, skiing: spot the common factor!

Yoga, didgeridoos, skiing… spot the common denominator!

Julz World with Julie Symons

I’m not very good at standing on my head.

It’s right up there with playing didgeridoos, skiing, and eating tapioca pudding on my list of next to impossible activities. My secret list of things best left to the experts or clinically insane.

But unlike the above, I seem to be drawn back to this blood-rushing, dizzying and totally unnatural act on a regular basis.

Call it stupidity, call it an act of the terminally bored, call it what you will, but those kids who perform lunch time acrobatic circus acts in school play grounds are on to a good thing.

Helping the blood pump around your head helps rejuvenate the brain and slow down your body’s natural loss of brain cells as you grow older.

So says my yoga teacher anyway.

I’m not athletically minded. In fact, I was the person in high school who was always the last one to be chosen when the class was divided into sides for sports. Worse still, I have the attention span of a cabbage. But yoga has held me captivated for several months now, which is quite a remarkable achievement.

Initially I was intrigued by the fact you can stand on the spot and hardly bounce around, and yet at the end of a class you feel like you’ve run a marathon. You feel the blood pumping through your body, where once you felt lethargic and heavy. Your spine feels nice and stretched rather than humped over (quite a positive aspect for me, Queen of the bad-posture brigade). Your eyes twinkle and dance, and even though you leave a class looking very dishevelled – it’s hard to keep a hairdo intact when you’re upside down – you feel like you’re emanating a sexy kind of glow.

It’s not easy though. I’m the first to admit that I’m by far the worst in the class. While everyone else stretch their legs into impossible positions, I stretch my face in a look of horror. When the other women balance themselves in mid-air, all their weight supported on one hand, I collapse on the floor in a heap. But somewhere along the line I started to notice a very addictive difference. Though I still remained the worst in the class, I managed to hold the moves a few moments longer, stretch that little bit further, and stand upside down for those few extra brain cell-boosting seconds.

Yoga is entrancing and stimulating. Unlike many sports it works out the whole body, inside and outside, as well as balancing the mind and the emotions. You can even do it at your desk at work. While everyone else thinks you’re tallying the end of month accounts, in actual fact you could be practising your breathing techniques and clearing the dead air out of your stomach. Charming thought, isn’t it?

But serious as I sound about this truly invigorating sport, I am fast gaining a reputation as the class clown. The one who doesn’t take it seriously enough. The bad girl getting into mischief at the back of the room.

It’s hard to look serious when everyone around you are contorted into bizarre shapes, their backsides poised awkwardly in the air, their faces exerted in concentration. Or to stay quiet and calm when you lose your balance and tumble nose first into a heap on the floor.

Recently the teacher calmly told the class “and now we’re going to put our knees behind our shoulders”, as if it was the most natural thing to do in the world at that moment. Like breathing.

A friend stared at me in mock seriousness and muttered, equally calmly, “Alright then”. It set us both off in fits of giggles. Then again, the hysteria could have been due to the excess blood in our heads. Or the fact we could barely imagine our inflexible legs lifting to our chests, nevertheless our neck regions.

With names like the Scorpion, yoga moves often look better suited to rag dolls than human beings. I’m a long way from being a guy’s wet yoga dream – one of those supple women whose entire bodies seem double jointed. But for the moment at least, I’ve found the one sport that agrees with me. (Even if some people stare at me like I’m a few grapes short of a bunch when I suggest head stands assist intelligence.)

So why are you still reading? You’ve been sitting at this computer too long. Take some advice and go stand on your head a while. I’m sure you’ll feel much better afterwards.


ã Copyright Julie Symons 2002

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