So with my heart soaring with empty promises, I bravely strode into the exercise hall on Tuesday where all the action was to take place.
Some of the students were already inside. Seated on mats. Ok, I did find it a bit strange that we were using mats for something called Body Pump. I had been imagining wild kicks and some enthusiastic jumping.
And silly me, I did not suspect a thing even when I saw a few of the students sitting cross-legged taking deep breaths.
The horrific realisation began to dawn only when I glanced at the teacher who looked disturbingly brown-skinned and...oh wait was he an Indian? And gulp... did he have shoulder-length long hair? Suddenly the music began - something haunting and psychedelic with chants of 'Om' and 'Rama' and sitar sounds thrown in for good measure.
I realised (as usual a tad too late) that I was in the wrong class! Yoga...the ancient art of physical and mental disciplines which brought up images of people standing upside down peacefully, timing their breaths...none of which I could remotely do. Poetically put, I was born on the soil of the land of Yoga and Kamasutra. But oh what an embarrassment I have been to that soil! Because instead of exploring my inner spirituality through the medium of Yoga (like a true Indian would), I had wasted away my days in India devouring 'soan papdis' (exploring my inner lack of self-control) and hoarding a useless bangle collection, (exploring my inner bangle fetish).
At the outset, I was perspiring profusely out of sheer panic, looking like someone who had already done 5 hours of Body Pumping at a stretch.
I had a few minutes before the class began so I asked the kind-looking lady beside me if this was a beginner level class. Which in my case translated into ‘Do you think someone like me who would rather keep watching Fox Sports than stretch an inch to take the remote and change the channel can manage 1 hour of this class?’
"We all do what we can luv...Don't worry, it’s for beginners"
And armed with her soothing words, particularly the word 'beginner', I was initiated into the world of Hatha Yoga.
The first ten minutes went fine. Mainly because this consisted of some basic stretching poses.
Next came the Surya Namskaram (Sun-Salutation) posture which is when I noticed an annoying chap in front of me who kept puffing his breath loudly, no doubt timing each breath. Show off! I thought. Yeah so your breaths are exactly 30 seconds apart and mine might be slightly irregular and I might be breathing in when the teacher is asking us to breathe out. But so what? No need to let the whole world know, is there?
Things went a bit downhill after the first half an hour. The teacher demonstrated a pose which involved balancing your entire body on your palms alone. Which I assure you is fascinating to see and I didn't even attempt it. Neither did my new lady-friend next to me and we smiled graciously at each other mentally telling each other: "Like hell I'll be trying that one, luv!”
Then came the most trying posture for me - Chakra Padasana (Leg Rotation). It involves lying on your back and raising both your legs in the air and rotating them clockwise, then anti-clockwise. Around this time I guiltily realised my breaths were coming out in short and sharp puffs from the sheer effort of the pose. Pretty much like the man in front of me.
This pose was a nice test (which I failed with flying colours) for my underworked abdominal and spinal muscles. And a nice reality check on how heavy one’s legs can get.
The last ten minutes was my favourite part of the sesssion as we all lay down to do the Shava-asana or the Corpse posture. I gladly moulded my body to the soft mat and surrendered myself to the soothing tones of the teacher as he asked us to relax our minds and bodies.
In my exhausted, trance-like state, I imagined myself attaining nirvana floating two feet above the ground as the others looked on amazed.
My nirvana came to an abrupt when the teacher signalled that the class was over and we all scurried off.
If anyone is wondering about the Body Pump class, that was the next day, and I prudently decided to observe the class through the glass windows before participating. And how glad I was! All I can say is that it involved countless squats holding a hefty barbell.
Yeah, I think I'll stick to exploring my inner spirituality for the time being.