Sunday Times Magazine

Sunday Times Magazine

Flood of Sweat and Tears


"Five months of intensive exercise, all for the readers pleasure, and what have I got out of it? Biceps? No. A new-found joie de vivre? No. A bad knee? Yes.

Today, quite by chance, I am at Fierce Grace’s Stiff Old, and Broken class. This is hot yoga, modified for the “injured” or “really unfit”.

 The reception area is very much like an NHS walk-in clinic: everyone is hobbling. Instead of a doctor, we see Gwenaelle, the very French instructor. She begins like a doctor would, taking note of all our injuries. This, in itself, is very therapeutic. I tell her about my knee.

…Then Gwenaelle brings out “the camel”, an apparently innocuous pose that bends the spine, neck and head back towards your feet. Something clicks. The room spins. “You may feel a bit nauseous,” says Gwenaelle from a long way away.

The next 30 minutes fly by. My ‘ips and ‘amstrings relax. My bad knee stops hurting. I have moments of tranquility, as if I am about to die or cancel an unsatisfactory broadband provider. We finish with some simple spine-stretching paters on the floor and I could have stayed there, not thinking about legionnaires’ disease or unsatisfactory broadband providers, for ever. This is what being relaxed feels like."