Posted by: Vicky V | May 6, 2009

Zen and the art of keeping your balance

I am forging a chequered relationship with Zen. This would be most exciting if Zen was a dark and sexy Brazilian mechanic whose torso was slicked with engine grease but I’m talking about a rather less titillating form; the blissful state of mind acquired from the ancient practice of yoga. And I have a hunch this relationship with good old Zen needs to be nurtured because for a non-competitive gal like me, it might prove to be my St Barts a.k.a The Only Place To (Just) Be.

It all started last Friday when Suze and I went off to our first yoga class. I positioned myself in the front row, furthest away from Suze (so I wouldn’t be distracted by competing with her) and facing the teacher (so I’d have a direct line to any feedback on my performance). For 1.5 hours I experienced a blissful union of stretch and meditation, shaking off all thoughts of problematic Cream Horns and behaviourally unsound boyfriends. At the end of the class Suze declared I was a yoga genius, that I looked pro and bendy while she was stiff as a board. I beamed and said it must have been all that ballet practice I did when we were ten. Locking myself in a dark church hall every Saturday just to practice my grande-plie had finally paid off. I was delighted on so many levels but most of all, I had found Zen and I was good at it.

So in my enthusiasm I found another yoga class on Bank Monday morning. I was all loose and bendy throughout and I rolled confidently up into an extremely challenging headstand at the end. Having mastered all yogic skill and, mindful of my ballet experience, I thought I’d inject some personal style into my inversion. So I went about practicing a kind of upside down jete or “a jump from one foot to the other (like a leap), in which one leg appears to be “thrown” in the direction of the movement (front, back or sideways)”.

After 2 minutes of this energising activity, one struggling pupil summoned the teacher for help and I was shocked and surprised to hear her say,

“Well, whatever you do, don’t do it like Margot Fontaine over there”.

Oh dear, name calling is most un-Zen. Nevertheless, I swallowed my pride and quietly tried to untangle my legs. But at that moment my sense of gravity trickled away from me and my feet toppled backwards making forceful contact with the flimsy partition doors. Before I knew it I had gone all the way through the partition doors and was lying prostrate in the next door studio, centre stage between two active yoga classes, my feet in a complex plie and my arms somewhere near the ceiling.

Definitely not yogic for two classes to have been thrown so cruelly out of their poses into a state of hilarity. So I did what Margot would have done and took a bow.


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