A couple of months back I finally started going to yoga again. The fact that the classes are literally next door to where I work is a huge bonus as it means I can go during my lunch break. I’m finding it to be an enormous stress-reliever and I only wish I could go more often – I had long forgotten what it felt like to do something physical, especially when like most people I spend all day using my head – or trying to.
While the classes aren't that fantastic (loud music from the techno-booming spinners next door) I’m enjoying it even more than when I first started a couple of years ago, yoga can take a while to get into at first but this time the adjustment has been almost immediate – though not for my stiff ‘ole joints who are not being very co-operative!
Anyway, a few weeks back I decided to try one of my gym’s other offerings, stretching, or strechin as they write it at the gym. I thought it might help with my yoga as I’m naturally inflexible. Well, I got a lot more than I bargained for. Not only did I stretch, but I got stretched by the only other student in the class, a man as it would happen. Now, physical contact with a complete stranger might be the most natural of experiences for some, but not for moi I’m afraid. Anyway, I went along with it and did pair stretches with my new buddy – he was actually an amiable sort, not at all creepy. In short, the whole thing was just about bearable. That was until the perky strechin teacher asked me to sit on the floor and my partner (Javi, let’s call him) to kneel right behind me while I lay (yes, lay) my head on his chest (yes, a stranger’s chest and entire frontage). Right now I am no longer in bearable territory but being the polite Brit that I am I comply and allow him to bend my back forwards, diagonally and sideways. To be honest it would even feel quite nice if it weren’t for the fact I don’t even know this guy’s name.
Just when I think things couldn’t get any more awkward, I hear the word ‘massage’. Oh my God, she’s asking him to give me a shoulder rub (whilst I lean on his chest), and now she’s asking him to give me a head massage. Yes, a random stranger’s hands are running their fingers through MY hair. At this point I sort of lose consciousness, but not in a good way. This is like the bit in those true life stories in The Daily Mail when people report to ‘float above themselves’ and ‘watch it all happen with horror’. And then it starts to dawn on me: I’m going to have to return the favour, aren’t I? Oh yes, I kneel behind Javi, and proceed to knead his scalp while he closes his eyes and makes little noises that I really don’t want to hear. I'm sorry if this all sounds gross, but I have to get it off my chest!
Why didn’t I run for it? Why didn’t I make my excuses and flee? Politeness I guess. I sometimes get a similar feeling when I get a taxi and they drive like a maniac. I say to myself ‘just ask him to slow down’ but I just can’t say it and I continue to let them terrify me for the next 20 minutes and then pay them 30 euros for the pleasure… I mean how stupid would it be do die because of politeness?! But that’s a whole other post.
Needless to say I haven’t returned to streching .