It’s time to write something about one of the things that keeps me sane and healthy: astanga yoga at a new studio in Great Barrington, Yoga5. I stumbled into this kind of yoga when I got back from the London Book Fair in March, and through a series of coincidences found myself at Yoga5 just as it got started. Jonas Zev Amberger had moved here from Vermont and set up shop in a big building on “The Flats” south of town, gathering a group of rather obsessed yoga practioners who’d been waiting for an astange studio as well as a few bemused newcomers like me.
My daughter Rachel used to call it my cult because I was so enthusiastic. Now it’s become more routine: I can do my hour or hour and a half’s practice in the morning and arrive at the office feeling good instead of like I’d been put through a wringer, and I don’t talk about it all the time.
The yoga community is very different from where I spend the rest of my life, and I don’t suppose I’ll ever feel that I really fit in there. But it’s been a good lesson about community: you don’t have to fit in entirely to feel part of a group. Being in London made me even more appreciative. I went to Astanga Yoga London on Drummond Street, an 18-minute walk from the Goodenough Club so perfect, I thought. But it was crowded to a degree that really wasn’t fun. I had less room than in any hotel room I’ve ever been in, had to practice almost nose up to a wall (and the walls gave off that interesting rising damp smell you get in many English buildings), and no one looked very cheerful. That’s city yoga, I know, but how lovely to come back to the warm atmosphere of Yoga5 and the hugs (and help in headstand) of my pals there.