Downward Dogging

28 Jun

I’m in a room full of strangers and I’ve just been asked to say who I am and ‘a bit about myself’. There’s nothing I dread more.

I don’t know where this unease stems from, but put me in this situation and my heart starts racing. I have the early signs of a panic attack. My mind goes completely blank and I lose the ability to speak. You wouldn’t think my career Plan B was to be an actress.

I do this at work. Regularly. I’m often in meetings with a room full of people I’ve not met before where I have to say my name and state my position.  I’ve actually taken to writing it down on my notepad in case I forget it. I kid you not.  

Something else that I’m not too keen on – something I think most people would not put at the top of their ‘like’ list – is having to get up close and personal with a stranger.  So, imagine my dismay when I arrive at my first pregnancy yoga class to find I have to do both of these things. 

I was actually really nervous at my first class. I was meant to start the previous week, but was on holiday so had to miss it. There’s nothing worse than being the new girl. I arrive a bit early and ring the doorbell of this rather large and imposing house.  Nothing happens. I hear no bell ring, so I press it again. Still nothing. So I knock the door. “COMING” screams a voice from inside.  Oh god, I’ve clearly pissed her off. “Sorry I didn’t think the bell worked,” I mutter.

As I enter the house I’m instructed to take my shoes off and to follow yoga lady upstairs. I had imagined yoga lady to be an earth Mother hippy type who would be all welcoming and offering me lentil muffins and elderflower tea. In reality I felt like I was about to be introduced to Wednesday and Pudsley Adams before being trapped in a dungeon with lots of pregnant women.

As I’m the first to arrive I fill out the necessary forms and then painfully try to fill the silence between yoga lady and I. I’m very uncomfortable with silence so I spend about 5 minutes blabbering on until the rest of the class start to arrive. I think she thinks I’m mad.

So the class starts to fill up and it’s a range of women, all at different stages of pregnancy. There is no introduction (thought I’d got away with it) or instruction as the class gets underway.  Now, I’ve done yoga lots of times before, both in the UK and in India, but none have focused so much on the breathing. When I say breathing, I mean the loud noises that are suddenly being emitted from the mouths of the pregnant ladies in the room. Noises that sounded like cows mooing. Scatter some hay on the floor and I could have been on a farm.

Perhaps I’m just really immature, but the minute this started I just wanted to giggle. I looked up to see if anyone else was reacting the same, but no, just me being childish then. Ok, so I try to concentrate and once I supress the giggle I start to get into it. It is really relaxing and I can totally see how beneficial it’s going to be during labour.

Then my fears start to become reality. I’m paired with a pregnant woman I’ve never met before who looks to be about 32 weeks pregnant and has obviously been doing this a while. I’m asked to sit by the wall as she sits in front of me (very closely I might add). Now, I have to concentrate on my breathing  -‘in and out, in and out’ – and as I breathe out she has to push down on my thighs. If my husband was doing this I would find it really relaxing, but all I can think about is that I’m breathing my coffee breath very closely into this poor woman’s face and my leg muscles are completely tense because a stranger has her hands on my inner thighs. 

After what feels like 20 minutes, we swap. She breathes ‘in and out, in and out’ and then I push down on her thighs. Clearly I do this too hard as she actually winces and whispers “ouch, too hard”. And everyone looks over. I apologise and am now really nervous as to how much pressure I put on her. I’m not relaxed, I can tell she’s not relaxed and clearly both of us are praying for it to be over. I’m pretty sure she’ll avoid me next week.  

Anyway, back to the ‘individual’ yoga moves. So, we all sit back in a circle and start to massage our own feet. Yoga lady explains we do this as we all go round the circle ‘introduce ourselves and say a bit about how our week has been’. Arrrggghhhh!

Guess what? I’m last. So I have to sit there thinking of something to say whilst trying to remember my name. As I hear about everyone else’s aches and pains I really don’t have anything to say or certainly anything that I want to share. Plus, I’ve just had a fab week on holiday so don’t really have any complaints.  I manage to murmur something about it being too hot on holiday and having a midwife appointment that day. I do this really quietly and without really making any sense. Everyone looks at me a bit strangely as I hear a pin drop four streets away.

And then it’s over. It’s been quite an experience. Sort of relaxing, sort of hell-like, but definitely something I know I need to continue. I’m simply going to have to prepare ‘a bit about my week’ beforehand. Plus, you get free tea and biscuits and I NEVER turn down chocolate digestives.

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