I'm thinking it was 1991. My cousin and I were around 18 years old. Caught between drunken nights out in Shropshire, studying for our A'levels and every now and then noting that we really should be doing more to keep ourselves fit.
That's when my cousin discovered the tape-cassette belonging to my aunt called Shape Up & Dance with Felicity Kendal. Now I'll be honest, my Dad quite liked Felicity Kendal, but at this point in my life, I myself was perhaps less keen to broadcast the fact that I was spending my evenings listening to Felicity's exercise instructions accompanied by the music of Bucks Fizz, YMCA and Abba's Dancing Queen. What a fool I was!
You see if truth be told I absolutely loved that cassette-tape. And although I may have sheepishly headed to my cousin's room under the pretence of "studying", the reality revealed two disco divas unleashing their inner Gloria Gaynor! We would both work up a healthy glow as we danced away to Felicity's disco anthems with ridiculous grins on our faces.
By the time the final cool-down track came on we were both ready for Felicity's version of a body scan. I remember lying on my back and blissfully enjoying tightening and releasing my muscles all the way from my tippy-toes to my forehead. I also remember always getting the giggles when Felicity told me to "Tighten! Tighten! Tighten your buttocks..... And release."
Fast forward a good few decades later and I'm teaching a restorative Yoga class. It's the beginning of the class and I'm welcoming my Yogis and inviting them to settle into their practice. The day before I'd read up on a meditation by Osho called The Heart of Peacefulness, during the meditation he suggests that "If you feel somewhere there is some tension, then make the tension as intense as possible. Bring it to a peak and then suddenly relax so that you can feel how relaxation settles there."
I thought this would be a wonderful way to relax my Yogis at the start of the class. And so as I worked my way up using this technique alongside their body scan, imagine my delight when I suddenly found myself aged 18 recreating the lovely voice of Felicity Kendal urging my Yogis to tighten their buttocks and release!
I'm not sure if my Yoga class sensed the smile that was beaming from my face, but in my heart I felt a huge surge of gratitude for Felicity Kendal, who perhaps unbeknownst to me was my first Yoga teacher. Namaste Felicity Kendal!