Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Swans, Dogs and Happy Babies

Seeing as I have started to put the brain cells through some challenging moves with the web site design course, it seemed only fair that the body got its fair share of challenging moves.

An invitation came through the work’s internal email. The health and well being group had invited a keep fit instructor to come in one night after hours to lead people through their paces. No high impact jigging about and star jumps, but gentle stretches. I have always wondered what pilates are – now I know. It’s very yoga-ish.

Bare feet were required, and loose clothing. And a mat. And a very pliable body! And the ability to balance on one foot for long periods of time.

As we moved seamlessly and gracefully from one yoga position to another, the instructor called out the names of the various positions. The other people in the class might have been swans but I was definitely still the ugly duckling. My dog just couldn’t get its tail up far enough and the baby at the end of the routine was anything but happy!

It has been a long time since I have asked my body to perform interesting contortions. I either read or watched something the other day about someone with an obsession for standing on his head. I used to do that for hours on end.

There was a full length mirror in the dance studio where we were, but the instructor made the wise decision of covering it with a curtain. I think that watching myself trying to make the right shapes would have been too funny to watch. As it was I snorted at one point, on the brink of hysterical giggles. Someone thought I had sneezed and said, “Bless you!” I swiftly pulled myself together!

My over-riding concern throughout the whole hour was not really about making the shapes. I am not flexible. I looked like a comical parody of the real thing! There is a memorable episode of The Vicar of Dibley where Dawn French performs a ballet dance with Darcy Bussel. It was just like that. It brought to my mind a conversation I had with a neighbour many years ago. We were both involved in the village amateur dramatic society and regularly turned out for the annual pantomime. He was always the dame and he was often required to do some dance routine. He said that he never danced for the laughs. He never deliberately messed up his steps. He tried to learn the choreography as best he could. It was his very seriousness that made it so funny. Effort does not make up for the lack of ability.

My over-riding concern was that somewhere in the twisting of the arms and the manipulating of legs, and finding my centre, excessive air inside might find its way to the surface! My buttocks were firmly clenched not just for developing muscle tone!

The instructor made a point of praising me at the end of the class – not for my grace and beauty, but for staying the course. She assured me that in time, and with practice, I would improve.

Isn’t that what so many things in the Christian life are all about – staying the course and allowing time and practice to improve us in some way?

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