Thanks to another really effective lesson plan from my yoga coach this month, I now have another new achievement to boast of; I can stand on my head. This is indeed a very, very good thing because I was feeling fraudulent inviting my own yoga regulars to attempt a headstand without being able to demonstrate the said article before watching them face plant onto their own yoga mats.
There’s no doubt that my interpretation of a headstand is a malformed, shakey kind of affair, and means I am having to revisit earlier lessons to conjure the required core strength and balance. With a bit of imagination you’ll probably be able to visualise Mama J gradually leveraging bodacious hips higher than head and bracing bingo wings to hoist her backside into position. You’ll need to picture this quickly because I can’t hold the position for very long, and I can only extend my legs if a friendly wall is standing nearby ready to catch me. As achievements go, I can recommend my new party trick in the making: it certainly provides a blood rush and – for a few brief moments – the world looks very different.
I’m not sure it’s a party trick I can perform to order yet and it would still be too presumptuous to invest in a purple tracksuit to demonstrate to mum that headstands are in the genes, but we have material to work with here. I don’t think mum would notice my new skills at the moment, she has other things on her mind, but it would give the medical staff something to smile about and they deserve that. Yesterday I pushed mum out of the ward in a wheel chair in search of fresh air. I’ve never pushed a wheelchair before and I imagined I would handle it with panache and be able to build up some speed – perhaps even hitching onto the back as we skated down the corridor; the reality was a vehicle that had clearly failed its MOT and favoured a left hand trajectory. I’d like to apologise to the doctor in the lift and can only be grateful that A&E was so close at hand.
I’m discovering in every area of life that the trick is indeed to take your feet off the ground whenever possible. This is simple enough when taking a load off and splodging on the sofa with a glass of red and some guilty pleasure TV (ok, ok, I got sucked into ‘Love Island’ when FD was staying and now I’m just continuing for research purposes only in order to bond with my students – honest), or nominating myself to be the ‘stretcher case’ at boot camp knowing it’s the perfect storm of my greatest fears: not having feet firmly planted on terra firma, relying on others to carry me, and most humiliating, letting the aforementioned stretcher bearers realise my true weight.
I get it, it’s about letting go but I still struggle with that.
I’m certainly good at telling others to let go. I spiel this line out to parents all the time. “Don’t you worry Mrs X, students usually vomit over A Level exam papers, it’s all in a day’s work to teachers, the exam booklet will sponge down nicely,’ or, ‘I appreciate that you have your heart set on Pedro going to Cambridge University Mr R, but he does need to let go of your hand now and enter the exam room if he is to achieve this dream.’
It’s we adults that need to learn to let go, our children only hang on if they sense our fear. Having the best job in the world, I get to witness the fearlessness of young people every day of the week and realise that when life has knocked them back, they’re not so fixated about holding on too tightly. I’m humbled that those with a stretcher load of personal issues – enough to floor any robust adult – are those that keep their eye gaze high and keep inching forward even when life insists on kicking their feet out from underneath them.
It was Sixth Form Alternative Sports Day this week and being preoccupied with Hospitalgate, the only real limbering up I’d had the energy for was to complete the tautology of Health & Safety paperwork for the Student Ministry of Fun. This year the Sports Committee had approved a programme of quidditch; garden wheel barrow racing; blind-fold jelly-welly flinging and a water slide finale. (I told you, I have the best job in the world.) I was so preoccupied with ensuring that the students had a water hose and the appropriate ratio of washing up liquid to baby oil with which to lubricate the water slide, that I had given little thought to the contestants themselves. My task on the day was to score the students for length of slide, style and speed and I was duly furnished with score cards to rate each water slide attempt. Time and time again the students who were first to belly flop onto the slide were those students with a kit bag of personal troubles. These were the students (in ridiculous fancy dress costumes) screaming down the shute, feet up in the air, having buckets of water thrown in their faces, before rushing to join the queue for another go. I think they’ve learnt not to take themselves too seriously and to ‘take a load off’ when ever life presents an opportunity. 10 out of 10 every time; I’ve so much still to learn.
My feet definitely need to learn to leave the ground, especially if I’m to carry out the charity sky dive I have committed to. The floor has so often been whipped out from underneath me this year that by now I should have surely learnt to convert my falling with style into a party trick, to swoop down the water slide of life, feet and arse in the air (if that’s technically possible), at very least convulsed in laughter, if not surfing.
I’m still just hanging on too tightly to anything solid and I have a nasty habit of looking back over my shoulder which makes any attempt at balance precarious.
I don’t think another Love Island Fest or another afternoon nap will really flip my feet from out under me with the adrenalin rush needed. I’m wondering whether, if I position a pile of cushions appropriately and if I remind myself that I rarely actually let myself down, I can learn to hold my headstand for longer. I’m wondering if I can let go of that wall – the ground will surely catch me, and, if it’s a painful landing, I’m experienced at least at rolling, foetally, into the recovery position.
So, bottoms up at least to a party trick in the making. Mama J’s just finding her balance. Next year she might try the water slide.