The author, Zarreen, is NOT on a sabbatical. She is mother, cook, maid, doctor and magician for her kids – a very demanding job! And when she gets time off, she works as a marketing consultant. She lives in Delhi with her husband, Moksh and children, Zayn and Iram. Below you can read an excerpt from her book, I Quit! Now What? Courtesy: Amaryllis Manjul.
So at 7 p.m. on a Friday, I grab a bedsheet and make my way to the park. No point investing in a yoga mat yet. People are jogging around, listening to their iPods, ladies are walking like they’re on a mission while actually, they’re secretly discussing recipes, men are talking into their cell phones loudly and a child is on his tricycle under the supervision of his very sleepy-looking mother.
I spot a group of slightly elderly people standing with colourful yoga mats, talking to a dark man with oily hair.
I approach them.
‘Is this the A-block yoga class?’ I ask.
The oily haired man smiles at me. ‘Yes, yes. You’re here for the trial class?’
I think back to my Zumba trial and at my overconfidence in almost signing up for twelve classes. ‘Yes, trial only, please.’
‘Okay, okay,’ he says with a smile, glancing at my bedsheet. ‘For next class, you get yoga mat.’
I roll my eyes. Like there’ll be a next class.
He claps his hand at the handful of people in the group. I look around. The average age is fifty here. I feel slightly stupid. Maybe people my age are at the gym or doing aerobics or Zumba. Not lame stuff like yoga.
‘Please make three lines and put mat in front of you,’ the yoga master instructs us.
I stand behind a pretty fat lady and an old gentleman stands behind me. I carefully fold my bedsheet into half to make it more cushiony and stand behind it.
‘We start with stretch.’ He pulls up his hand to demonstrate. ‘Like this. One. Two. Stand on toe. Breathe out. Three. Four. Come down. Again. One. Two…’
The members of the group look at each other, a little lost, but follow him nonetheless. The younger ones in the lot, people younger than fifty that is, keep losing their balance. The older ones don’t even bother standing on their toes.
‘Very good. Now side. One. Two.’
I clearly haven’t been doing any sort of exercise whatsoever. I can feel fat folding under me as I bend sideways. I look at the big lady in front of me and feel better about myself.
We do a round of stretches post which we’re asked to lie down.
‘Now, bend right knee, pull up, breathe in, lift head to touch nose to knee, breathe out, put leg back. Again.’
I hear the uncle behind me fart.
Oh my god!
‘This is Pawan Mukt Asan,’ the yoga master explains. ‘Good for digestion problem.’
I should’ve guessed.
I hear him fart again.
Yoga is pretty easy, though surprisingly exhausting. But because I feel fitter than the rest of the students, unlike the situation in the Zumba class, I feel good about myself. Minus that farting exercise. I’m actually considering paying up for the month.
‘Before we do pranayam, we do jumping jacks,’ the yoga master announces towards the end. ‘You do this in PT in school? Jump like Jeetender! And flap arm like Hema Malini. See?’ He starts demonstrating by jumping up and down, parting his legs and closing them, clapping his hands on top of his head and bringing them back to his side.
‘See? Simple. Good for heart. Now you do.’
So here I am flapping my hands about and jumping to the count of one, two, three, four when I realise the fat, enthusiastic lady in front has taken this a little too seriously. Not only is she jumping continuously, unable to hold her balance, she’s moving backwards too. Closer to me. Closer to my foot. Closer to my toe. I freeze. On my toe.
I yelp out in pain and grab my foot. She turns to look at me, dripping with sweat, and without an apology, turns back and starts jumping forward.
I think I’ve broken a toenail. I sit on my bedsheet, holding my foot. No one has noticed. Nor cares. And it pains like hell! Damaged tear glands give me away again. To be fair, they have a valid reason to shed.
Only when the jumping lady moves forward, almost reaching the yoga teacher, does he ask everyone to stop and sit down on their mats for pranayam. He looks a bit scared by her proximity.
‘Place hand like this,’ he says placing his middle finger on one nostril and his thumb on the other. ‘Breathe in out alternately from one nostril to next. Breathe in. Out. In. Out.’
Okay. This can be quite relaxing. I close my eyes and start breathing in, still holding on to my injured toe. Till I realise the man next to me has a blocked nose. And I can hear all his snot going up one nostril and down the other.
I feel quite queasy by the end of it.
But I’m definitely going to sign up for the month. That’s a promise I make to myself.