Wet Wednesday May evening in Manchester city centre does not conjure up images of serenity and tranquillity. Gently swaying grasses, reflection and contemplation, joss-sticks provoking inner calm and stillness. It doesn’t because wet Wednesday evenings in Manchester are cold, gloomy and depressing. Inner calm lost to insurance broker rushing headlong through the gloom, head full of ‘bonuses, twix, and whether to slip the wedding ring off on the train journey home as the bloke who has been sitting opposite is a bit of alright, smiles and reads the Guardian. What harm would a little fling do before you reach 50? Fuck I’ve forgotten to take the chicken out of the freezer, get fish and chips on the way home, why do I always have to think about tea?’
Yoga is usually undertaken in church halls, gyms and unused office space. But now you can get a free yoga class on the soggy green slime in Piccadilly Gardens. The rain falls all the same, yoga or no, yoga and rain swept through the grimaces and maladministration administrators’ consciousness like a re-entering satellite.
Mountain pose started us off, yoga is a barefoot type exercise. But I opted to retain my footwear on my foots, mainly because I didn’t want to put cold wet feet back into cold wet trainers. Squelching home wasn’t something I really fancied.
Other than the dripping wet yoga instructor I was accompanied by one other equally insane person who was as tight as me because they were also willing to go through the humiliation of doing yoga in the middle of Piccadilly Gardens on a wet Wednesday evening just because the lesson was free.
The wafting smells of burgers, beer and dope occasionally reached my nostrils.
‘Close your eyes and focus on your breathing’ was easier said than done when you can hear the snotty, headphoned youth walking straight for you. Head down, hood up, spliff carrying, pants round the arse boy strolled directly into my Warrior One.
My Dancing Warrior didn’t fare much better as my fellow yogaist lost balance and toppled over like a Fred Dibnah chimney collapsing from the bottom up. She crashed into my trembling back leg which sent me into free-fall. I hit the floor knees first, serious knee capping avoided due to the ever so incessant Manchester rain.
Dog Down is a rejuvenating posture but out here I felt a bit vulnerable. At the same time as this free yoga session there was a ‘boot camp’ fitness lesson going on. Blokes wearing camouflage pants and t-shirts in that army green shouted abuse at their unsuspecting clients. They must be refs in training.
As the weather warmed up and the sun decided to shine more people began to frequent the Gardens. The main activity being laying around smoking weed. This was in sharp contrast to the wiggling and hopping of the free fit contingent.
I was quite astonished how noisy a few hundred people are when they are only talking. My yoga teacher turned the volume up on her hi-fi but that just had the effect of drowning out her voice making it impossible to hear her say, ‘Plank pose, bend your arms, knees chest chin’. Which resulted in me poking my nose into the bend of my knee while resting on my palms.
Yoga in the rain and cold had a stoic quality that gave me a feeling of achievement. Whereas yoga in the sun gave me a back ache and people looked at me funny. Yoga is a much under-rated form of exercise as opposed to the western bollocks that has you prancing about with no reference to dignity or control