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Fit in my 40s: want to socialise while you Om? Try AcroYoga | Zoe Williams


Even after all this time, yoga (hot or cold) continues to be my mad enthusiasm, my evangelism, the handbrake turn of my middle age. I still can’t do a side crow or even a regular crow. And I spend quite a lot longer planning to go than actually going, as it’s quite a bite out of the day. But I never leave, sweaty and freezing, having failed in some way large or small, feeling anything other than euphoric. Even so, I’ve realised, finally, that if I want to talk about yoga one more time, I have to make a yoga friend to do it with. Nobody else wants to hear it.

Most people at my class are almost naked, dressed like a volleyball team. You get to know other people’s bodies incredibly well, before you’ve even got to the point where you could exchange smiles at the cucumber-water station. They all have tattoos. There’s a woman with a lifesize cafetière covering her entire calf, and in a different context – say we were doing Zumba – I would ask whether it was an act of elaborate, ludic wordplay (calf-etiere) but the solemnity of this business throws me off my social game. Another woman has an Apple “on” sign at the top of her bum, and there are follow-up questions I’d like to ask about that, but the moment has passed. There’s a limit to the number of times you can be in the same room as people without smiling at them before your smile window has closed, and I reached it. Maybe back in November.

It’s quicker, for those really determined to socialise while they Om, to try AcroYoga, which has a lot of two-person holds, being halfway between yoga and acrobatics. I went to join a class, but got cold feet and just watched. It looks very elegant and almost circus-impressive, watching one person fold forward while another kicks into the air, in the sort of play moves you might do with small children. But it is also exceedingly intimidating: you wouldn’t want to be the person who kicked at the wrong angle and put someone else’s back out; indeed, if your partner did put their back out, it would be impossible not to hold yourself responsible, whatever the truth; and it does take a huge amount of trust to do anything at all. I guess this is why everyone there had brought a friend with them, rather than just picking one up at random.

It’s not for yoga purists, as the postures themselves take second place to the balancing. It’s not for people who prefer hot yoga, as it’s not hot. And it’s definitely not for people who customarily try to ingratiate themselves with modest remarks about their uselessness. It’s a world in which you’re chosen for competence, not charm, maybe a little bit like joining the TA or having a parachute partner. Not for me, in short – not ever.

Back at my normal yoga studio, I persist in my solitude and wonder if I really mind. Do I need to be talking about everything, all the time? Could this be the one thing I do that I never talk about?

What I learned

About that crow: it’s not lack of balance that’s stopping me, it’s a fear of pitching forward and landing on my forehead.

To find a class near you, go to

Source: TheGuardian