9. The Look
The first rule of yoga club is you ALWAYS talk about yoga club. The second rule is, when you’re not talking about it you need to make sure everybody knows you’re a yogi. Try carrying a mat everywhere you go and adding colourful yoga pants to your daily wardrobe. Don’t worry if they make you look like a broken lava lamp, this is about inner beauty.
8. Prepare to Struggle
You thought there was going to be a lot more sitting around listening to pan pipes, slurping smoothies and saying “ommm” didn’t you? Nobody said it would be as sweaty, exhausting or painful as this. But try extremely hard to bring your ankle over your head because if the instructor approaches to help with your stretches they’re going to feel how much of a disgusting, sweaty and panting lump you are and that might contrast with the show of calm you have summoned every ounce of strength to display.
7. The Talk
The inflated frog, the regal chimp, the halibut plank – before long you will know so many different names to describe standing on one leg and sticking your arms out, including in another language, once you’ve mastered the Sanskrit name for each pose. Just remember, it’s a lot easier to name them than it is to do them.
6. Newfound Power
After a few weeks of publicly falling flat on your face while attempting the chattering parrot pose, being the only one in class who cannot see their toes (never mind change light bulbs with them) and failing to get through the warm-up without requiring a breather it will start to click. And despite being worried about the sound of clicking hips you will feel muscles in places you thought were supposed to be wobbly flesh.
5. Onset of Obsession
At some point, usually between the second and third lesson, you will decide this is more than a hobby and insist that it is your calling. But deciding to retrain as a yoga instructor is the well-being equivalent of deciding to become a DJ after buying an iPod.
4. Patience and Calm
Yoga is said to spread a zen-like peace to those around you. The frustration you feel at still not being able to summon the strength to arch your back towards the full moon probably undoes the benefits you feel. But your willing partner who tags along and takes 234 Instagram photos until they get it “just right” is the real triumph.
3. Better Holidays
The amazing thing about yoga is that it takes no equipment and could literally be done in a broom cupboard with the same results. Actually, scratch that. The best thing about yoga is that it gives you an excuse to take trips to absurdly luxurious retreats with infinity pools and posh spas in Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Nepal.
2. Friends for Life
There is a closeness between yoga friends that makes a unique bond. It might be something to do with the fact that they have seen you cry after slipping on your own sweat and landing in an unsightly heap. But it could just as easily be something to do with the fact that non-yoga friends don’t have to be up at 5.30am to reach the sunset stretch sessions on the beach.
The instructor says to get the best out of a given pose you need to empty your mind. Your mind, however, is spinning with thoughts about whether you’re doing it right, whether that body odour is yours, if you will ever be able to do this properly, trying not to laugh and if it’s alright to scream if the cramp comes back.
Will Milner is a regular contributor. He once injured his back lifting a cheeseburger.