Running away is one of my special skills. I started practising it as a child, hoarding biscuits at the bottom of the Ali Baba laundry basket in my room and waiting until the time was right for me to sneak away unnoticed.
There was nothing in particular wrong at home but my drive to run away was fuelled by a general and misguided feeling of being unloved, unappreciated and unwanted. I was five years old.
Then I would pack my biscuits, bid a sad farewell to my cat Cleo, steal down the driveway and walk to a disused farm about half a mile from our house. There was an old hen house on the farm and I’d walk up the ramp, following in the claw-steps of long gone chickens, squeeze in through the chook-sized doorway and perch on a roost. It was dark and warm in there, the air thick with the smell of ancient chicken poo, the floor thickly crusted with it.
I’d stay for what felt like hours but was probably just as long as it took me to eat the biscuits. Then, unable to think of anywhere else to go, I’d walk back home only to discover that no one had even noticed my absence, never-mind missed me or worried about me.
Now I’m middle aged and while I still haven’t mastered the art of feeling loved I am an expert at running away. As soon as I was old enough I ran away to some of the best places in the world as well as some of the dodgiest.
Since I’ve been a mother running away has been mainly confined to my fantasy life. When I had post natal depression and my kids were aged 4 and 11 I fantasised about running away to live in a garage. I lived on a beautiful sub-tropical island so I could no longer kid myself that life would be better if I only lived somewhere warmer, more beautiful or more bohemian. I just wanted a place of my own and to be alone in it.
Now content myself with running away on a small scale. Being invited on press trips is a dream come true for an escape artist like me but this year I’m going on less of them. I’m staying home to earn money and feed the kids like a good mother should. It’s a struggle.
So I work a little escape into every day. I get up at the crack of dawn and sneak out of the house to run, bike or box. Sometimes I imagine what would happen if I never came back. Then I come home, put a load of washing on and start waking the family.
My favourite escape is missing the evening meal. We are not one of those families you read about in the media who never eat together, grab meals on the run or eat in front of the TV. We eat every evening meal together and many others too. It is often a torturous experience.
There’s always someone who hates what I’ve cooked. Depending on their age they will either whine continuously, shoot me poisonous looks or fake gag. When I tell them to stop fake gagging they tell me it’s not fake. that the food I’ve bought and lovingly prepared is so vile it’s genuinely making them retch.
So I run away from home once a week during the family evening meal. I’ve been doing it for a while. In fact the main reason I exercise is not because I want to or enjoy it but because that’s the only thing I can think of to do once a week between 5-7pm.
Yoga Central seemed mighty quiet but I followed the signs to the studio only to find it plunged in darkness.
Back I trekked to the house where a few kids seemed to be watching TV and their mum appeared to my yoooo hooooo only to tell me I had the wrong day for Astanga yoga.
Sensing my disappointment she said I was welcome to use the studio alone, an idea which I sprang on because “that will give my husband time to cook tea for the kids and clean up afterwards.”
It’s hard to believe how selfish I am and how desperate for time away from the family I love.
Back up the dark path to the studio we went where she turned on the lights and left me to it. I walked around the big white room, noted ropes hanging from the walls and lay down my yoga mat in the middle wondering what exactly I’d do for yoga practice. It sounded advanced but I guess practice just means practice.
I tried to remember how to salute the sun and failed. I stood up straight, placed my hands palms together in front of my chest and I looked at myself in the mirror.
Racking my brain for yoga moves my thoughts were interrupted by footsteps. A man appeared, long curly dark hair tied back in a ponytail, a strapping fellow who didn’t look like the yoga type.
We sorted out the muddle with days, his confusion it turned out, then I asked him what the ropes were for.
“For hanging upside down,” he said.
“Yes, would you like to have a go?”
“Oh sure, why not?”
“I’ll give you a demonstration first.”
In the blink of an eye he was suspended upside down in the bat pose.
“Can I take a photo?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, “then I’ll take a photo of you doing it too.”
Righting himself he showed me how to position my hips on the rope, walk my feet up the wall and push myself away from it. Then I had to press my feet in, fold my knees out in the butterfly position and lean back. Right back.
As soon as I was upside down I felt a tremendous pressure in my head. My face was surely puce.
“How long do you stay like this?”
“Oh, about five minutes'” he said, then wandered off to sit down.
“Don’t sit down! Quick, take my photo,” I ordered.
His bottom had lowered to within an inch of the platform but he got up and took the photos. As soon as they’d been taken I pulled myself back up right.
Next he showed me how to use the bar with a wooden block under my feet to realign my hips. One foot on the floor, one on the bar, leg out, one fist banged into my hip to get it in and lots of pain. My hips are tight, I think a lot more work needs to be done. So that was Ardha Buddha Padmottonasana.
Darren’s a great teacher but you can’t slack off when you’re the only student so I was happy when he left me to my practice alone. I still didn’t know what to do but remembered a few poses from Bikram yoga and found inspiration from photos in the studio. I even went upside down a few more times in the Bat pose.
I felt batty doing it but playful too.
Finally I lay back over a bolster, stretched my back and stayed there for some time.
I called by the house when I left to thank my hosts for letting me use their studio but no one heard.
So I drove off back to my own home, my own family. It feels good to escape and good to go home too. Mummy might be a little bit batty but she’s doing all she can to provide a balanced family life and a happy home.
Having kids turned my world upside down. Maybe if I turn myself upside down more often it will set things back to rights.
And I’ll probably keep running away then running back home again because there’s no support group for people like me. I should start one. I’d call it Escape Artists Anonymous.
Are you an escape artist?
Yoga Exercise Review
Cost: $o – You just do it anywhere you can find a comfy quiet place. Or to find out about yoga courses and classes in Doonan which is a ten minute drive from Noosa visit the Yoga Central website. Lovely studio, lovely people. Just check the website for dates and times first.
Time Exercising: One hour
Average Heart Rate: I forgot to wear my heart rate monitor but it wouldn’t have been needed. Definitely not aerobic exercise.
Fun Factor: 6/10 – More relaxing than fun.
Fear Factor: 3/10
Post-exercise Glow: 7/10.
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