Within the soundproofed walls, the candles knew the truth. This wasn’t nirvana. It was a building in the grimy backlands of Clapham Junction station. In the yoga studio all was hushed, but the candle flames stirred to agitated vibration as a train passed. Delicate instruments, shivering to an influence none of us could hear or feel.
The truth was I shouldn’t be here, lying still on a purple slip of mat in a row of people who looked like they’d all fallen from the sky. Being told by a barefoot girl to empty my mind. To quiet my thoughts. And just be.
Quiet was something I’d had too much of in the past few weeks.
If this were a proper day I’d be at my Yamaha grand piano, sending glorious noise out of its black wing. For hours I would see only the black and white keys. My reflection in the lacquer-black bodywork swaying across the gold lettering. My hands lifting and falling. And today, being the first Monday of the month, I should have been at my tutor’s house.
That was before the pain.
Now, on this first Monday, instead of dancing up a storm of demisemiquavers on his Hamburg Steinway, I was lying on a wooden floor on a sticky mat, trying to be – quiet.
I hadn’t done yoga before. I was trying to like it. I’d heard so many people say they loved it with a passion, but so far I didn’t get it. We’d been here for ages and all we seemed to be doing was lying down. Although the instructor didn’t call it lying down. She called it a posture.
‘Shavasana,’ she intoned as she passed me at a serene pace, toes spreading with each step. ‘It means corpse pose.’
In the mirror I could see the clock. We had been here only ten minutes. How time drags when you’re a corpse. But I’m not good with things that need to be done slowly.