Before I go on I'd like to point out to my mum, future employers or yoga students that I haven't ever smoked crack. However I understand that it's the most addictive drug on the planet. While everyone bleats on about yoga being good for you, I'd like to admit that I struggle to keep my yoga habit under control.
I have two small children, a job in new media and work as a freelance journalist. So what did I decide to do with my teensy amount of free time? Train as a yoga teacher, of course! Not only did this training take hours but so did all the stuff around it that was essential to maintain my addiction - daily practice, practice teaching, racking up class hours with accredited teachers, reading bizarre translations of Sanskrit, writing essays, keeping a diary, even goddamn breathing (they call it pranayama). Jeez! I'm sure crackheads actually spend less time on their cause.
My family suffer for my addiction. Throughout my training I was so desperate to avoid getting pregnant that I frequently fought off my husband's advances - after all, my handstand & peacock (forearm inversion) needed work and aren't suitable poses if you want to keep an embryo in womb. Once qualified, family expansion was back on the agenda, but what's the first thing I did when I got pregnant? Exploited my family by training as a pregnancy yoga teacher, of course. And once the babe was born, I went on a post-natal course. They say that addicts are equally adaptable and can sniff out their drug whatever situation they find themselves in.
Like an addict, I wake up in the morning and I'm desperate for yoga. In fact many devout yogis get up before bleeding sunrise to meditate. And the purpose of yoga, lest we forget, isn't to zap those flabby bits, defy ageing or get a beautiful body, but to reach enlightenment. Those voices, which I'm meant to be taming in order to transcend to that beatific level, badger me until I've done several rounds of sun prayers.
However due to the cries of 'mummy I've done a poo!', the school run and work, my chances of doing yoga first thing in the morning are zero. So I feel cranky. Just like an addict in need of a hit. Sometimes I can't practice all day and my body starts to seize up. My back aches, I feel energy blockages all over my body, lethargy creeps in and I start to gorge myself on chocolate. Yoga withdrawal symptoms can be hardcore.
But what happens when I do get an hour of time for self-practice or I swank off to a class in Primrose Hill? I feel bloody brilliant. The post-yoga glow rivals sex or a hit of finest crack, I suspect.
Recently I turned 40. And rather than having a wild party on a beach in Ibiza - which is how I celebrated my thirtieth - I decided to treat myself to a yoga retreat: a whole day to devote myself to my addiction. These days I love hanging out with other yoga junkies. We have our own slang 'Vera one, for example is the first Warrior pose, otherwise known as Virabhadrasana I), we share equipment, we smile knowingly at each other in a blissed-out state at the end of a class.
And like crack, I cane a lot of money on my addiction. My teacher training cost several grand. Before that I did a foundation course, and now I have to fork out for workshops, classes and gear. Sweaty Betty and American Apparel ain't cheap.
Fortunately unlike crack, yoga remains legal and apparently prolongs life. Some yogis believe that you have a finite number of breaths - that's why they're always telling you to inhale and exhale deeply and slowly. A bit like the sort of breath you'd practice when you smoke a crack pipe (I'd imagine).
Visit Anna's website www.annayoga.net
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