by Ian Bysh
I am really good at overdoing yoga. Usually it’s when I’m showing my yoga skills. Patanjali and Swatmarama both caution against practising in public, I think for the same reason Christ recommends fasting and praying in private – do not be as the hypocrites, smearing your face with ash and wailing in a loud voice. When I remember, I try to treat yoga as as a sacred act for the benefit of myself, and not for the benefit of my ego. Pride comes before a fall. Let me tell you about some falls pride has led me towards. She didn’t even have to push. I helpfully walked right over the precipice.
Fall the first: competing with other people. Someone once said I was good at headstands, and that encouraged me to have a headstand contest with the other guy in the class who was noted for his headstand ability. Of course I ended up with a nose bleed. I suppose I got off lightly. Ruth White told me about one guy who had gone blind in one eye he had done headstand so much. I think he did it for like six hours at a go though.
Fall the second: competing with my ideas of how flexible I should be. I will put my nose on my knee. I will. I WILL. Ouch.
Fall the third: yoga as a chat up strategy. For some reason I thought Lucinda would be impressed that I could sit at my desk in lotus. She wasn’t, and in my eagerness to impress I strained my knee so badly I could only hobble to the sandwich shop at lunch time, and Lucinda skipped off with Tony Brownlow.
Fall the fourth: Proving I am a great teacher. When I taught yoga at the Barn in Farham one day, the old teacher came for a lesson. I wanted to show her what a great teacher I was. I had everyone doing shoulderstand, straight legs back into plough, tippytoe-ing the feet all the way around one way and then the other. The next day I could barely stand up. As well as demonstrating the poses, I had been hopping up, doing clever adjustments, then shooting straight back down into the pose again without giving my poor body time to adjust. I was still immobile three days later and couldn’t go dancing. I had to go to the chiropractor to sort myself out. That was a really bad one. Fortunately no-one else suffered at the hands of my bombast. Actually, perhaps it’s better no-one come to my classes any more. Don’t trust me. My mother always said I was prone to showing off.