Six minutes at least. That song was definitely six minutes. Ok, five and a half minimum. Definitely.
I defocus my eyes and stare at the rumpled corner of the pillow on the floor with renewed determination.
Take your clothes off and stand very still, she says. How hard can it be? My back foot begins to twitch. Then my leg. Oh, for fuck’s sake. I shift my weight to the front foot and the tremor stops momentarily, then starts again. Ah well. Maybe it feels worse than it looks. It probably feels worse than it looks. People are basically shaking all the time anyway – just try and hold your hand out and keep your fingers perfectly still! It can’t be done. Stillness is an illusion. Something strung taut between almost-opposing forces; a trompe l’oeil achieved only by the dead. And then only for a moment.
I breathe and feel my surface expand and contract beneath the gaze, pinned within this imperfect illusion of stillness. I breathe and become a lightning rod, a satellite dish, a mirror receiving and reflecting fleeting impressions. The contralto of charcoal on rough paper pokes through the music, like pebbles in a glacier. I breathe and become the event horizon of the flesh, defined by the convergence of so many lines of perspective, and yet moving ever outward; a shell of light expanding along smooth projections to the black hole of each eye. (Well, tell me, which one of us really transfixes which?)
I shake and breathe and shift my weight again within this illusion of stillness. My muscles burn. My back aches. I lost the feeling in my right thumb a song and a half ago – six minutes? Seven?
Just take your clothes off and stand very still! The first part is surprisingly easy. The second isn’t.
When Jo eventually comes to signal the end of the class, I feel my joints click and creak in protest as they slip back into their accustomed roles. Afterwards I’ll realise it is only in those few moments between the end of the pose and putting the robe back on that I really feel naked. Inside the pose, there is only time. Time and muscle ache and the occasional feeling-that-you-really-have-to-sneeze-but-can’t.
I’ll be honest. It’s not for everyone, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t fun. Tomorrow I’ll be sore all over, but the next day I’ll be wondering when I’ll get to do it all over again.
Words and sketch (below) by Craig Thomson