Some of you will know that I had to attend a Speed Awareness course last month.
Let's all take a moment, savouring the irony of a yoga teacher going too fast.
For those who like facts and figures, I was snapped doing 38 mph through Donaldson's Lodge. Donaldson's Lodge, where no living person has been spotted since 1987. Donaldson's Lodge, half a mile of net curtains sandwiched between miles of national speed limit. Donaldson's Lodge, with its wide pavements and excellent visibility.
This is a hamlet that has the air of a frontier town just before a gun fight. Tumbleweed. Swinging saloon door. Creaking signs. A huddle of bungalows holding its breath, desperate not to be noticed. Yet it's classed as a 30 mph zone because it has street lights so the wildlife can see where it's going.
Donaldson's Lodge at rush hour
Now, I know everyone thinks they're a good driver even as they reverse off a pier, and I am no exception. All my crashes have been low impact involving inanimate objects that ran out in front of me. However, this doesn't prevent me feeling exasperated - nay, enraged - at stupid regulations that are not fit for purpose. Clearly, Donaldson's Lodge should be a 40 zone so, confident in my own risk-assessment skills, I drove accordingly. In fact, the whole unpleasant incident could have been avoided if only my mother, a passenger at the time, had learnt the skill of fact- over story-telling.
Mum: There's often a speed trap along here. Morag got caught a couple of weeks ago. (Pause) What speed are you doing?
Me: Next time maybe just shout 'speed trap'.
So while this could come across as a cautionary tale, I want you to take home instead a story of personal empowerment and self-determination. Why? Because that's how I want you to approach your practice - with a healthy disregard to the rules if, for you, those rules don't make sense.
September is poised with its match to the horizon, and a back-to-school feeling is as natural as conkers and crane flies. Enthusiasm rises on the fog, promises are made and goals established. It's like New Year without the alcoholic regret. I see it on the mat. An attentiveness, a steely glint in the eye, a gritting of the teeth to get things this time just right.
This term though, I invite you to get things wrong. If I'm saying one thing and it doesn't feel good in your body, try something else. If I'm demonstrating one way and it doesn't feel good in your body, try something else. Think of an alignment cue as a suggestion, an invitation, to move towards a pose, not a conscription. Yoga is an internal process, remember; it isn't interested in what you look like but it does want you recognise what you feel and for you to honour that.
Of course, this doesn't mean you should go entirely off-piste and fling yourself into a handstand when the nearest you've got to one in the past is picking up a dropped olive. Your movements should feel comfortable not reckless, sensible and considered, like... Well, like driving through Donaldson's Lodge at 38 mph.
Let your body be your teacher, your breath be your guide.
And if you do something spectacularly idiotic, I'll take your picture and proceed to tell you what you already know over four hours, a PowerPoint presentation and lukewarm coffee.