Maeve Higgins’s ideal . . . yoga


I was in my room the other day, trying on different shoes with different outfits. My sling-back heels teamed with my father’s old Mass suit worked well, creating a rakishly androgynous look that would surely wow the catwalks of Milan. My heart sank as I realised the outfit would just as surely confuse and offend the boreens of Cobh. People here wouldn’t see a fashion forward hero, just another businessman with a ponytail. Anyway, in today’s lesson, I will tell you everything I know to be true of yoga.

If you’ve spent time with my ex-husband’s most vegan friend Cherrie, you may well be confused about what yoga actually is. I recall walking through the city with her one evening, past two girls shrieking at each other over a kebab and she shook her head and said “Now, that’s not yoga.”

Later that night, when I opened our library door and found her leaning over poor Michael as he tried to doze on the chaise longue, she panted “This is pure yoga.” After that, it still wasn’t clear to me exactly what yoga is until I heard The Monk, a complete yoga nut, give a talk on the subject from one of his homes in Ibiza recently. He explained it like this: Imagine the slowest dance in the world, like a waltzing class in a old folks’ home where all the men have gone to the big ballroom in the sky, so it’s just gentle old ladies slow-dancing alone to no music – that’s yoga.

And like visiting The Monk’s house, but for different reasons, it’s vital to always tell someone that you’re about to do yoga or have just been doing yoga – never keep it to yourself, whatever you do. With apologies to The Monk, it’s not all old ladies, often ladies my age (22 or thereabouts) do yoga too, and men. You can’t always tell the difference because everyone wears the same loose, comfortable clothes and serene expression. If it’s important to you to find out, just look at the throat – all men have a lump there, from not crying enough.

You can practise yoga alone. Babies do, they’re always at it – stretching and breathing, looking pleased with themselves. Peep into any Dublin pram and you’ll see. Unless you’re on Capel Street and the baby is piled too high with bananas to practise, or even be visible. There are a variety of classes for you to learn more – try Vicious Yoga which uses props, including throwing karma-stars and downward dog-bites or Lazy Yoga, where everyone just has a lie down. Don’t be nervous – just walk in and say hi to the Yogajudge (tutors are known as Yogajudges, an “in joke” apparently) then choose a mat, preferably one that’s not still rolled up. All yoga quiets the monkey brain, much like Indiana Jones did at that banquet, but without a spoon. Yoga makes you calm and solid like a mountain, a mountain wearing loose, comfortable clothes.

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