Two dark stone lions stand guard outside The Plaza, but, at this hour on a winter’s morning, there isn’t a thing to look at. Usually bustling, the deserted area is barely recognisable and the silence almost eerie.
Glass doors under a large sign inscribed with the studio’s name are locked so we stand around until a watchman finally stops by — skull cap pulled over his ears — and drowsily directs us towards the actual entrance. We clamber upstairs only to discover, on the very first landing, that we’re still hopelessly lost. Pitch darkness lies ahead in one direction, but the barely visible stairs there at least present a promise of leading you somewhere.
Light streams in from an open door in the other direction but that, from where we stand, looks like a balcony at best. We’d follow the sound of music, but it’s quiet. Leaning over the banister, we call out to the watchman; now he’s nowhere to be seen. It’s beginning to feel like we’re in a bad horror movie and it doesn’t help our nerves any to find the watchman right in front of us when we turn around.
Slated to be strenuous
Yoga, we think, is possibly a very good idea today. The class should be relaxing, we imagine, even though we’re aware that, combined with pilates, it may be strenuous. We’re okay with strenuous — think we’re up to it and know we can use the workout post the all-too-festive season.
The class is full when we get there, and the warm-up has commenced. We’re glad a few others trail in after us so we’re not the only ones who missed this part of the regime. After all, one doesn’t want to be the only one to pull a muscle and fall flat on one’s face, especially since this seems like a predominantly middle-aged bunch.
Hetal Madhiwalla, proprietor, shows us where the mats are kept and then we’re one with the crowd — not exactly though, because most present seem to know what they’re doing. We’re not completely in the dark here (unlike outside) either. Two steps, we find, come almost naturally to us: Namaste and Breathing.
From our spot at the rear of the room we barely catch sight of the instructor between moves, and to be absolutely honest, we’re rather pleased with the realisation that we must be similarly concealed from her. We struggle through two Suryanamaskars.
To be fair the instructor did demonstrate it once, but it’s 7 am and we haven’t had a cup of coffee yet. She does lead the class through the steps but she moves all too fast and it’s a little hard to keep up when you’re trying to peep through a sea of contorted limbs (there were 15 attendees for the promotional class but we’re told actual sessions will be kept smaller). Next, we’re to do an asana that improves balance and concentration, but clearly not immediately, because we believe we now understand what The Leaning Tower of Pisa feels like (Going...Going... Boom!).
Learning to relax
The abdominal exercises were a breeze, for us anyway, and we did make it a point to look down our nose at those who had stopped midway (That’ll teach them not to smile condescendingly when someone almost falls over! Not everyone was a flamingo in a previous life you know).
One would really expect a little sympathy at these things from those who were perhaps novices themselves once — how are we, for instance, supposed to automatically know that the word, “Relax,” can also mean, “Stand at an awkward position till your hip hurts.” In Yogaspeak, apparently, the word refers to the somewhat less painful stage between two moments of absolute agony.
It may also of course refer to the part of the workout we loved and found we excelled at — the last ten minutes. But for the annoying trickle of a mini waterfall that flowed beneath a stone Buddha wall hanging, the space was quiet and we could bask in the relief that came from knowing that it was almost over. One wasn’t exhausted at all, but that every muscle had been sufficiently strained was evident in the fact that our bodies were trembling.
Then, there was this breathing exercise. We were instructed to block one nostril and breathe from the other and the instructor explained that breathing through the left calmed the body down, while doing so exclusively from the right made you alert and aware — made us actually consider the idea of taping our child’s left nostril up permanently — and “breathing through both,” she said, calmly and slowly as if speaking to Forrest Gump or BJP MLA Banwari Lal Singhal, “helps with balance” (probably not physical balance though because we’re sure we breathed through the flamingo-asana. Then, perhaps she really should have been talking to the BJP MLA).
Not for everyone
To put it in a nutshell, we have to admit the class left us energised, which, at 8 am (and still no coffee), is no mean feat. We would however warn anyone with severe aches and pains or pre-existing health conditions to think twice as Sima Melwani, excellent (and infinitely patient) instructor though she may be, does admit that her classes will primarily be designed to achieve weight-loss.
If you’re looking for a slow-paced, relaxing, meditation-centric yoga regime, this is not the place for you. Would we go back? Absolutely! Just not before our morning coffee.
Yogalate is scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings (Rs 3,600 for 12 sessions) Frequencee is located at The Plaza, first floor, opposite Ghanasingh, Hughes Road; call: 9920131637, 9820142519