Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess

So many yogas, so little time
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The Independent Online

I've just returned from a heavenly lost weekend at The Yoga Show, at London's Olympia. I only popped in for a recycled yoga mat but ended up staying three days. Olympia had been transformed into an airy paradise of chiming bells, fragrant incense and Nepalese chanting. Hundreds of fascinating stalls offered everything from gorgeous clothes made from recycled bamboo pulp to exotic yoga holidays and eco-friendly paints, while showcasing every type of yoga under the sun.

I thought I'd gone off smells, bells and mysticism but I haven't really. What is it about women like me? This weekend Amanda was learning NLP with Paul McKenna, Ros was firewalking in Fiji with Tony Robbins (been there, done that) and Amelia was attending an angel workshop in Guildford. They're all looking for the meaning of life, but I figured that out two weeks ago, so have no excuse at all.

As well as conventional types of yoga, I could have tried yoga disco, yoga ballet, yoga for surfers, yogic laughing... so much yoga, so little time! The place heaved with lithe, leotard-clad yoginis, grazing from the mysterious brown contents of Tupperware lunchboxes, racked with indecision.

I eventually settled for a fascinating class about the five Tibetans. These are a series of dynamic, rejuvenating postures brought to the West by Colonel Bradford, a British soldier who was taught how to do them by ageless monks in a Tibetan monastery in the 1920s. Once learnt, they only take five minutes and have been medically proven to slow down the ageing process.

Next up was a bikram class. This is an energetic yoga practiced in sauna-like heat and is not for the faint-hearted. It nearly killed me but I managed to drag myself to "Yoga for Builders, with Trevor the Yogic Builder". The programme stated that Trevor had been "into yoga for quite some time now" and got into it to "calm himself down". There was great disappointment when he didn't pitch up; the organisers tried calling him but his mobile was switched off.

Observing the throngs of bendy girls wafting about in the patchouli-scented smoke, I thought this must be the perfect place for an enlightened single man looking for love. So I called up Jago, environmental lawyer and occasional skier, who has been single for five minutes (an eternity in man years) and insisted he come right over.

I was less interested in Jago's love life and more in having someone carry all the things I couldn't resist buying. On arrival, he was lumbered with an electronic massager, a solar-powered yogurt-maker, a magnetic bed, several pairs of OM earrings, and an organic silk yoga bag designed by Christy Turlington. I was quite tired, so he found us a quiet table where we could relax with our organic lattes.

Jago confided he knew the gorgeous girl manning a nearby incense stall. She worked at his health club but kept ignoring him. I had the brilliant idea that I would go with him to the stall and rummage around while looking at him adoringly and laughing at his jokes. Recent dating research conclusively proves if a girl thinks a chap is a schmuck, if she sees him with another girl who thinks him the bee's knees, she will re-evaluate him positively.

We tried it but it didn't work. She kept ignoring him. It was probably just as well, as I couldn't have lugged all my shopping to the taxi rank by myself.

The Yoga Show will be at G-Mex, Manchester, 1-2 April, www.yogashow.co.uk. For information about the five Tibetans, go to www.lifeevents.org

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