Like most people, I’m involved in several social and professional groups, so wherever I go locally it is likely that I’ll see someone I know. One of my favourite crossovers (crosses-over?) is between my yoga and my music worlds. I used to belong to the massed ranks of the altos in a local choir. I wouldn’t say I was a ‘Singer’ with a capital S, but I can hold a tune and I loved being involved in such an uplifting community group.
At the start of every weekly rehearsal, our Musical Director would take us through some warm-up exercises to wake up our vocal cords. We’d la-la-la some scales and arpeggios, and chew imaginary toffee to get our facial muscles moving. All good stuff. But when the MD discovered that I was a yoga teacher, he said, ‘Marvellous! How about you put us through our breathing paces next week?’ Fine, I thought. I can do that. I ended up doing it for almost a year.
Given that some of our number were past the first flush of youth – not to mention that we stood very close together, and the gents were on a step behind the ladies – it wouldn’t have been appropriate to launch into Downward Dog. Instead, I asked them to have a good old shake and then stand tall (in Tadasana, though I didn’t call it that); we’d do a few stretches to open the ribcage to give our lungs room to expand, move our bodies every which way and generally loosen up. Occasionally, I'd talk them into a sneaky Warrior stretch and often finish with a balance, which usually ended up with everyone laughing – always a good result, don’t you think?
It would be fair to say that this intervention did not meet with universal approval. Some choir members made their distaste clear by harrumphing their way through proceedings, with much tutting and raising of eyebrows. They clearly thought I was some kind of weird hippy. One actually went so far as to refuse to join in, and kept his head resolutely down in faux study of his music. There were also occasional mumblings that the time would be better spent singing not ‘doing physical jerks’. Hey ho. I wasn’t offended.
Others, though, said they really enjoyed it and during our coffee break I was often asked questions about yoga and its benefits. A couple of people even came along to one of my classes! I love it when worlds collide.