Part 135: Yoga

yoga

I’m not getting laid enough. It’s a real problem (if you don’t compare it to Ebola), and there’s no obvious solution. Especially now that I’ve decided one-night-stands are for losers, and stopped shagging my ex-boyfriend and all his mates due to spurious moral reasons such as the fact they’ve all got married and impregnated their wives.

I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but not having sex has serious physical and emotional side effects, such as frustration, insomnia and – as I was once reliably informed, by an obese Russian facialist – adult acne. You know when you see grown-ups with great cystic boils on their jaw line (such as, for example, me)? They’re not getting any. I can only conclude that acne is nature’s way of encouraging procreational activities, such as fucking, as if she hadn’t caused enough havoc with Earthquakes and droughts and hurricanes, the bitch.

But what’s one supposed to do? Tinder’s populated by a revolting pile of misfits and arseholes, I’m not paying £32 per month to meet progressive marathon runners on Guardian Soulmates and nobody approaches hot strangers in the material world anymore – in case you hadn’t noticed, this is not 2006. It’s 2015, give or take a few months, and we’re digital now; we’ve more or less completely transitioned to cyborg, particularly when it comes to romance.

So, instead of copulation, I’m spending a great deal of time in downward facing dog. Folded over with my spine rolled open, my pelvis tilted upwards and my heels stretching towards the floor; doing my ujjayi breath, in through the nose, out through the nose, my throat constricted so that I sound like the ocean. Alright, it’s not sex, but it is rather satisfying.

There are loads of things I love about yoga. That hour or so of total freedom, the calm, the escape from the tyranny of the internet, my banging body after six weeks of daily Ashtanga practice (I figure since I’m not actually having sex at the moment, I ought at least to look like someone you’d fantasise about doing it with).

But the main thing I love about yoga is yoga teachers. I love their stringy arms, their chiselled cheekbones and their benign, soothing, voices. ‘Everything’s gonna be alright’, they suggest, before flipping into a handstand so that their T-shirt slips down to reveal rock-hard abs. I love how they only expect you to do what you can do, and how their hands softly guide you to let go of the trauma you hold, in a tightly coiled wire of resentment, just below your shoulders.

Still, despite the practiced tranquillity they vibe, I’ve never yet met a yoga teacher who didn’t give the impression that they’re but a hair’s breadth away from the edge. These are people who have suffered terrible damage, massive emotional fallouts; they have only managed to claw their way back into civilised society by virtue of carbon-strength willpower and wholesale appropriation of Eastern mysticism. It’s a method I’m familiar with, due to currently implementing it myself.

Yoga teachers are proof that there is no better way to keep on keeping on through tough times than yoga. And that’s why I recommend it to you, single people – because I know that as winter draws in we’ll have a harder time keeping on that most. I mean, we’re fucking excellent copers, obviously. But the world is conspiring against us – releasing rom-coms, inviting us to weddings without a plus one, offering only 25% council tax reductions, despite the fact we are 50% fewer people than a couple. And sooner or later, it’s going to snow.

Yoga is just about the only thing we can rely on. Which is depressing, yes – but at least yoga is something substantial, which is more than can be said for sex, and indeed, for almost all the people, in this digital age.

Namaste.

*Image is “Yoga Pose Shows Relaxing Spirituality And Calm” by Stuart Miles from freedigitalphotos.net.

Part 134: Frozen

Mind-the-Gap

They say that when you’re about to die, your life explodes before your eyes in a series of pictures – like scrolling through a photo album on Google Glass. Or else you’re visited by a long-deceased relative, who appears as a comforting apparition, smoky and translucent, reaching towards you with desperate, vaporous fingers. And I’ve also heard that you get to look at yourself from above, as if you were a bird or an angel, before traversing a great glowing cylindrical corridor, with a pinprick of oblivion flashing at its centre.

Terrifying stuff, which, I’ve discovered, is utter bollocks.

I had a near-death experience last week at Stratford station, and it was nothing like what they tell you.

There I was, boarding the tube, with a banana in my gob and an iPhone between my fingers, replying to a text message, when out of nowhere I slipped down the gap between the platform and the train.

Fucking gah!

I had matter of seconds to wrench myself out of the gap before the train pulled away and tore me to my death.

I stared the grim reaper right in the eye, paralysed with the banal absurdity of my finale – but there was no side-show of memories, no benevolent ghostly relatives, no bird’s-eye-view of London to ease me into the darkness. Awareness of my imminent death simply gave way to a pang of regret, and a single precise thought, that rang with the clarity Prophets claim they hear in the voice of God: ‘Fuck this!’ My thought went, ‘you haven’t seen Frozen yet.’

And because I didn’t want to die with that kind of regret looming over me, I was seized by a surge of super-human energy, which propelled me out of the gap and back onto the platform; back into the land of the living.

It was a surprise that I was this shallow, of course. But then isn’t near-death designed to teach us important things about ourselves and others? That’s why deathbeds are fertile grounds for scandal. For example, my great-grandmother – a stern, sullen, tree of a woman who said little but always had a fag hanging from the corner of her mouth, with a long tapering build-up of ash threatening to fall off into her lap – sat up on hers and looked into the middle distance, ‘Freddie! At last!’ She rasped, ‘We’ll take our secret to the grave!’ And then she dropped dead; leaving us all to ponder who Freddie was, and whether that secret involved incest.

There’ll be no such revelations on my deathbed – and not just because I’ve shared all my secrets here, on the internet, with strangers like you. It turns out my waters don’t run deep enough for terrible secrets. They stop at Disney movies and swearing.

Frozen, it turns out, has a pretty baffling plot revolving around a princess, Elsa (later the Queen), who, for reasons to which we are not privy, has magical powers that allow her to freeze stuff and conjure up humorous, fat little snowmen. Although her magic is great fun at first, she soon becomes careless, accidentally freezes her sister’s brain during a late night snow-jam and becomes so terrified of her great and terrible powers that she locks herself inside her room, alone, for many years.

I won’t ruin the ending, but suffice to say there’s bare massive drama, before she comes out of hiding, saves the day and all is well by the time the closing credits roll.

The movie is a fable about embracing your quirks and learning to love and be loved in spite of them. I could relate to that message, and to many of Elsa’s less admirable personality traits. I have been known, for example, to spend long periods of time in my bedroom, and I once nearly killed my brother with my own divine powers (spite and reckless curiosity).

Do you see where I’m going with this? (Bonus points if you do, babe, because I’m not 100% sure yet).

My sudden urge to watch the movie, as I flayed, trapped against the tube-train and the hard, unyielding platform, might have been a divine intervention from God. ‘Let it go,’ God was possibly saying, ‘you can’t hate all the people for the rest of your life. You can’t isolate yourself from the world and the good men who live in it. You have to get a grip and learn to love again, despite the fact you’ve got problems.’

But if that was God’s Divine Plan, then He has proper screwed up. Because the princess was far more interesting when she was locked away in her castle, dismissing friendly advances from strangers and family members, than she was when she came home and started caring.

There is a reason why the most iconic scene of that movie involves Queen Elsa summoning a raging storm and telling everyone to go fuck themselves. Solitude with an undercurrent of anger is the hero’s way. Romance, as the Queen’s drippy little sister demonstrates, is for losers.

So sorry, God. Sorry Divine Powers who spoke to me as I straddled the precipice between this life and the next. You can’t change my mind with Disney Movies. The cold never bothered me anyway.

(Boom!)

*I stole the image, above, off the internet. Don’t bother suing, TFL – you’ve caused me enough stress, as you’ll hopefully have gleaned from the above.