Soc-hopping: Yoga

Student Life

Fifth week blues have had a delayed reaction and my spiritual well-being needs a boost. Distressingly, a society for relaxing turns out to be hard to find – there’s organised fun in abundance, but organised tranquility is in short supply! I decide to sign up to a yoga class. According to Wikipedia, the point of yoga is “liberation from all worldly suffering.” Sounds promising…

I sleepily cycle to the “early bird” class, which starts at 7.45, in eager anticipation of achieving this liberation, and try to scope out whether any of the more experienced yogis look like they have yet. One of them is wearing a ‘Carnage’ T-shirt. Maybe not, then. The class starts surprisingly fast-paced- I’m not sure about the straps we are supposed to be using to support our poses, but then I’m probably doing it wrong. I wonder if trying and failing to do yoga is actually going to make me more annoyed than serene. When the teacher says “this is a lovely way to wake up your spine,” and proceeds to contort herself on the floor, I almost let out a cynical laugh, but when I copy her, lying with my feet in the air and my hands gripping onto them, of course, she is right. She knows the path to enlightenment and to good posture. The “downward facing dog” pose, in which you’re shaped like a ‘V’ with both your hands and feet on your mat, makes me feel a bit sick if I keep my head down for too long and feel all the blood rushing into it, and the bridge pose isn’t much better, but at the end of the session I do feel energised and quite virtuous, heading to the library with renewed optimism for my ability to concentrate.

However, for the real relaxation experience, I head to a class in the early evening. The room at Trinity is warm, wood panelled and dimly lit, with a fire glowing in the hearth. (It’s probably fake, but I’m already too relaxed to notice or care.) I’m told to go and lie on one of the mats spread out around the room “like lily pads.” This is just the start of the continuous commentary we are given throughout, which is worth going to the class for in itself. “You must’ve had a stressful week, a hard day, well done for taking this time for yourself,” the teacher soothes us. I concur gratefully as she flows around the room like milk, her voice so smooth you believe everything she says, which is an odd mixture of fairly scientific knowledge about the body and more mystical sounding ideas about energy flow. The strangest thing we have to do is “knit” our toes, holding each toe in turn and crossing it over the one next to it, and then massage our feet very hard, for which they will apparently be very appreciative. The rest of the class is much gentler than the morning session, but the stretches still ease the aches of sitting in the library all day, and as the teacher hums “inhale, exhale,” making each syllable last, I feel hypnotised into a sense of calm. The last ten minutes are heavenly. All the lights are turned off and we lie down with our middle fingers and thumbs touching in a circle, her voice ebbs and flows over us and I am nearly asleep until we are drawn back into reality with our hands in prayer position. “Namaste,” everyone echoes, and as we drift out of the cocoon of the room, I’m pretty sure we have managed at least a little bit of liberation.