I have agreed to receive some high-quality yoga equipment from a Bali-based company called Yoga Design Lab, started by a Canadian surfer called Chad who sold all his belongings and started making things out of plastic bottles. Which if you heard it about almost anybody else would sound like some kind of breakdown.
I think I said yes to Chad’s people because I was caught at a weak physical moment after having to sit down to put my shoes on.
The only times I have really cynically profited from the exposure a weekly magazine column brings was in accepting a one-gallon bottle of Tabasco sauce complete with a Tabasco sauce neck tie in 2013. A year later it was a set of Biros, and I also received some free Marmite, plus a gift card for £3.20 from the people at Greggs, which out of respect for you I never used.
Until now it would be fair to say that, if offered yoga in a yoga bar or whatever, I would normally have frowned dismissively and said, “Yoga? Not for me.” But a free yoga kit – which I guess is just a mat made out of plastic bottles – could be the making of me. No longer will I have to sit down to put my shoes on. I’ll be able to just hop about for 10 minutes again instead, all fit and lithe.
And a few days after agreeing,
I receive a package.
“I think it’s the yoga mat,” I tell my wife, and we both stare at it for a second.
Because something is not right about this package.
Now, I’ve seen people with yoga mats. They stride about with them, their foreheads prickled by beads of sweat, their bodies glowing healthily. The mats are long. But this box is no bigger than a shoebox for children.
“Maybe they folded it up?” she says.
So I open the box expecting to find a folded-up yoga mat, as well as perhaps a novelty headband and a short instruction manual.
“What is this?” I say, confused.
“Oh,” says my wife.
“What am I supposed to do with this?”
I have been sent what appears to be a small polystyrene brick.
It looks like one of those black diving bricks you used to have to fetch off the bottom of a swimming pool in your pyjamas.
I tap it a couple of times, in case it does something. But it doesn’t. It’s just a small polystyrene brick.
“How am I supposed to get fit and lithe with this?” I say. “It’s a brick!”
My wife shrugs.
“Maybe you use it for putting your head on?” she suggests.
But what good will that do? Why would you put your head on a brick? I have never seen anyone putting their head on a brick and getting fit as a result.
“There’s this, as well,” I say, pulling out a little grey cloth.
“That’s for wiping all your sweat off,” says my wife.
“All my sweat from what?” I say. “Putting my head on a brick?”
This can’t be right. Why have they sent me this? This is like someone saying ‘do you want some high-quality badminton equipment?’ and then sending… well… a brick and a cloth.
“The one time I agree to a freebie,” I say. “And I get a brick.”
Still. This is admittedly a high-quality brick. It’s probably made of plastic bottles. It has a small pattern on it. And as I re-read the note from the lady who sent it, I see she has suggested I remind people that “with the holidays coming up, these would make great gifts for girlfriends/wives etc”.
But I can’t give my wife a free brick I got for Christmas. She’d just say, “This is the brick you got sent.” This brick has lost all element of surprise, which is very sad.
No. I’m going to have to keep and use this brick myself. So I Google “yoga bricks” and it turns out it’s called a yoga block, and I stare at some of the poses people do with these things.
A woman who does not look comfortable but is pretending to is doing something called the Pigeon Pose. It says the edge of the block goes underneath her sit bone.
As far as I am aware, I do not have a sit bone. No one’s ever put those two words together before.
Great. Now I’m going to have to get a sit bone so I can put the edge of a brick underneath it.
This is how they get you hooked, of course. They give you a gateway brick, the next thing you know you’ve sold your house and you’re hanging around alleyways trying to buy sit bones.
I am going to have to just put this brick away. No one can say I didn’t try.
“Well, I gave it a go,” I say, shrugging, folding up my plastic yoga cloth.
“Gave what a go?” says my wife.
“Yoga,” I say frowning, before adding, dismissively. “It’s not for me.”
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(Image: Marion Michele)