I was doing a downward facing dog the other night when I noticed something extraordinary. A tiny sign on the side of a timber table leg proclaimed that this product should not be eaten.
Now, first the downward dog bit. If you’re unfamiliar with yoga, don’t let your imagination and sexually oriented fantasies run too wild. A downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana) is one of the most recognised yoga poses and an integral part of the wonderful salute to the sun sequence. And how do I know that?
Many years ago I suffered chronic debilitating backache. I would go to the gym for some treadmill work, or a little aerobics if my spine could take it. I would often see the yoga class devotees, seemingly lying around on their cute little mats doing nothing too strenuous. Indeed, most of the time they seemed to be having a nice little kip.
But something wasn’t quite right. For all the lying around these yogis appeared to be in very good physical shape. That puzzled me. And then the expressions of serenity and the faraway, contented looks in their eyes as they filed out of the class began to bug me.
So that’s when I started yoga? No, but I really wish I had. I continued to pay hundreds of dollars to a chiropractor for fortnightly relief, kneeled to make the bed because I couldn’t bend without excruciating pain, had to sit down to take my jeans, pants, socks, and whatever off, and whinged constantly about either how much my back hurt, or how many painkillers I had to take. The nearest I got to yogic bliss was the euphoria of mixing codeine, Panadol, and single malt scotch, but they were my drinking days after all.
Eventually, or should I say soon after Jane Teresa and I got together, I trundled reluctantly along to a yoga class. It was a cold night for Brisbane, so we were well rugged up, starting the session with fleeces and jumpers on. I was a little cranky. I was in the middle of a job and would have preferred to be sitting in front of my PC with a glass of red.
Within minutes I was stripped to T-shirt and shorts, the perspiration dribbling into my eyes as I viewed the world from the peculiar perspective of the downward facing dog position. It was dreadful and became considerably worse. Every fibre of my body was quivering with strain as I panted and puffed my way through the warm up. And I was yet to meet the warrior, the plank, and the three-legged dog.
Leaving that first class, I can’t say I exuded the same tranquillity and peace my fellow yogis were enjoying. I looked more like a stunned mullet, and I must have passed out during the savasana (the nice resty bit at the end) because JT had to come and wake me up.
It only took a few more classes before yoga became an indispensable part of my life. High stress levels became a thing of the past, my back improved out of sight, and although I would not go so far as to say I’m exactly super flexible, I can bend it with the best of them when it comes to the one-legged underpants dance.
But what about that sign? Who would put such an important warning in a place that could only be read by a downward facing dog? And who on earth would contemplate munching on a wooden table leg?