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Hanging out with the monkey god.

I have a friend. Let's call her Barry. Barry does ashtanga yoga. For those of you who don't know, ashtanga yoga is an ancient system devised for psychopaths, psychopaths who like to sweat tears of pain and hear their mats scream.

Sorry, that's a lie. Ashtanga is actually a detailed system of yoga for sadistic nut jobs.

And that's clearly politically incorrect if not wide of the mark.

Basically, ashtanga is a system of yoga that seeks to find that union between body and mind, the individual and the divine, via series of flowing sequences that become increasingly more challenging both physically and mentally. The postures in the sequences are in a set order that doesn't deviate. If you like your practice strong, ashtanga is the Dr Bruce Banner of the yoga world.

And my friend (let's call her Barry), despite all evidence pointing to her being someone who's kind to kids and kittens, loves it.

Whenever we meet for lunch, Barry regales me with stories of her terrifying work on drop-backs and of needing to be set upright by a fellow student after wobbling out of Garbha Pindasana (Womb Embryo Pose *shudder*). Barry tells me of alarm clocks set for five a.m. and a full primary series before breakfast. Barry, I think in awe, is a yoga freakin' machine. Like a T-800 Terminator in Lycra.

I truly believe I need to get me some Barry. Stock up on some hardcore yoga gumption. See, I'm very much a yoga butterfly ~ I get bored easily, distracted. Repetition is anathema to me. I flit from pose to pose depending on my mood or where the moon is in the sky or what colour my socks are, and I alight on a passing asana whose bright, novel colours call to me over the beige of everyday practice.

Ashtangis love beige. They love doing things over and over and over again. They want to get shit right and they know the only way to achieve that is by turning up and making love to the beige. They know that on the other side of beige things are one hundred percent hi-vis. They keep sunglasses and SPF 30 by their mats for the moment enlightenment hits them right after the three-millionth jump back.

I, by comparison, am a disgrace. I'm looking for any excuse to wander off for a cup of tea.

But no more, I tell you. I am calling time on my dilettante attitude. But I need your help. The only way this is going to work is to make myself accountable. So I'm going to pick a pose to work on for a month and shall take a picture of me practising every few days. At the end of the month, I'll have before and after pics. This way I will see (no guarantee!) progress and I shall have witnesses to my efforts ~ you~ which makes it harder for me to go chasing after squirrels.

This month the pose I've chosen to work on is Hanumanasana, or Monkey Pose, commonly known as the splits. As a child in gym club I could never do them because, quelle surprise, I didn't have the patience to keep practising. I know I can do this pose because I've done it before when I wasn't looking. (Seriously.) Alas, the minute I realised I wanted to go steady with the monkey was the minute the monkey decided it was happy being a one-night stand.

And that reads so wrong.

Another reason I'm choosing Hanumanasana is that Hanuman, the Monkey God, has a playful nature which resonates with me. Practice should be light-hearted, the mat a place where sometimes you just want to hang out and goof around.

So here goes. My first photographs of my journey in following Hanuman in his great leap of faith. The first is without any warm-up; the second, after.

And I wondered, lovely yogis, if there's a pose that you would like to get more Barry with. And that perhaps you'd like to join me for a month as we work together towards our goal. Take photos every couple of days to keep yourself on track, and then at the end we can celebrate our befores and afters. What d'you think? It's not important that we reach the pose. It's not about that. This is about taking time to really connect to your experience, to notice what's happening and to be grateful for whatever shows up. Tell you what, I'll leave these photos on the Team B&BY Forum, which you can access via the Members' Area drop down tab. Simply sign up to gain access. See you there for a group hug.

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