Giving up alcohol and caffeine for January has proved surprisingly easy. I crave hot drinks for ritual rather than revival, so herbal dishwater, punctuated by Horlicks, is doing the trick. And I've actually found socialising easier without booze-induced sugar schizoprenia; I'm calmer, less tired, and I listen better. In any case, I've replaced them with two equally addictive drugs: smugness, in the form of exempting-myself-from-the-stimulant-pushing-capitalist-culture glow, and oxygen, in the form of Bikram yoga. Oh, I know. I was as sceptical as the next self-respecting pusher-past of jump-shuffling, finger-cymbal-waving orange folk on Oxford Street. I was even more so after reading a recent Times interview with Bikram Choudhary himself, revered founder of the patented practice. This man lives in the Hollywood Hills, owns 40 Bentleys and Rolls-Royces, thinks he could have saved Princess Di, calls himself "a super-duper-duper-duper star" and looks like the lovechild of Danny DeVito and Don King. Hmm.
Anyway, I'm a cold-extremitied, lanky, straight-backed Brit. I can queue, and sprint, and ride horses without spilling teacupsful of water, but I don't really bend.
Dear God, though. Or Buddha, I suppose. It works. After just three sessions, one a week, I am noticeably, sleekly relaxed and energised. And, despite all the horror stories to the contrary, I enjoy it. Really enjoy it. Most cardio numbs you into pavement-pounding vacancy, but good yoga forces you to feel. The 40º heat takes you into a spaced-out tropical zone and the 26 postures pump so many platelets through your system you welcome back bits of your anatomy you thought you'd lost touch with years ago. Importantly, there's also a strong focus on meditative breathing, clearing your mind and finding pleasure in your body. When I dropped into a session at the Vogue-touted Frame studios, it was all a bit sharp-edged, a bit competitive, a bit thin. In Bikram Yoga City, my humble and cramped venue of choice, you get young, old, fat, skinny, wrinkly, hairy, cellulitey, black, brown, white, yellow (although predominantly very, very pink), all unjudgmentally ploughing through at their own pace.
And talking of diversity, I'm a bit obsessed with the latest issue of V magazine, whose 'Curves Ahead' spread - high fashion goes plus-size - has been gracing billboards in Manhattan. I'm never going to deny that I'm one of those poor deluded mugs who loves to look at bonily coltish coathangers styled by gay men, but these images are totally hot. Bikram hot. And they're shot by a guy called Sol Sølve Sundsbø, which deserves a round of applause in itself.
I mean, just look at her. It may not be the perfect Ustrasana, but she damn well looks like she's having fun.