SUZANNE HARRINGTON: ‘I realise that I am the elephant in the room’

IN AN attempt to alter my mind without the assistance of drugs or alcohol, I sign up for a month’s special offer of hot yoga. I used to do it a lot, and remember the amazing spaced out feeling that lasted all day after the class. 

That glorious feeling of nothing really mattering, and of not caring even if it did.

Opiate users report similar sensations, but I don’t fancy spots, constipation or burglary. I just want a short cut to feeling blissfully dazed, without becoming a drug addict.

So, after a seven year interlude, I turn up with my towel and water.

A lot can happen in seven years. In my case, an awful lot. A lot more width, breadth, girth.

I may be a clean living vegan these days, but vegan does not just mean carrot sticks. It can also mean cacao brownies and cashew butter smoothies.

Rolling out my mat and spreading my towel, I stare as instructed into the mirrored wall in front of me — and begin to fully comprehend the true meaning of the elephant in the room.


All I’m short is an actual trunk.

From my place in the back row, with the rest of the newbies gasping for breath in the heat, the mirrored wall reflects back row upon row of yoga mats upon which are balanced dozens of glistening twiglets in tiny lycra shorts and teeny yoga tops.

If you sellotaped perhaps three of these sweaty, bendy yogis together, you would get one of me.

Even though there is someone standing directly in front of me, I can still see quite a bit of my own reflection in the mirror — imagine an 8 standing behind a 1.

It takes a few seconds to get over myself. The mirror is there not to shame, I tell myself sternly, but to help maintain balance in postures.

The heat is so overpowering that within another few seconds I have forgotten about everything except not collapsing on the ground in a pool of hot fat sweat, knees in the air like a basted turkey.

Sweat streams down my shiny red face. I am an exploding tomato. I am relieved I don’t know anyone here.

Except I do. In the changing room afterwards, I blearily recognise half a dozen faces. Faces from a recovery group I attend — one that embraces under eaters and over eaters.

Quite a few of the under eaters do hot yoga. Their food issues are more photogenic than mine, and I have a momentary flash of anorexia envy, which just shows the creeping insidiousness of the whole skinny thing, when a healthy woman has a split second fantasy about self harming via starvation.

But my nerve fails and I baulk at the communal shower.

Being the elephant in the room is one thing, but being the hippopotamus in the shower is quite another; does this make me a wuss?

The thing is, by now I am so flooded with endorphins I don’t care.



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