On a whim I sign up for a Yin yoga and sound bath workshop. It sounds interesting. And maybe a bit weird.
I'm quite keen to go.
It's the day of the workshop and I'm full of the lurgy. Plus I haven't done any yoga since having surgery a few months ago and I'm not 100 per cent sure how I'll cope with it or just what the sound bath will involve.
My now-lukewarm enthusiasm plummets when I read some online reviews by people who have been to a sound bath session. One describes 10 minutes of it as being akin to an entire evening of a Pantera concert, more distracting than relaxing and when she went home her husband said she smelled like she'd been at a Grateful Dead concert.
I do NOT want to go.
I give myself a mental boot up the proverbial and the incentive that, if nothing else, after the class I can have a look at the nearby Whanganui Walls artwork that's been created over the weekend.
It's my first time at Tickle My Feet yoga studio. Yin yoga teacher Belinda Pilcher gives me a warm welcome and introduces me to the charming Yee Ley Lau who will be doing the sound bath.
Just to be clear - there's no water involved. Yee Ley uses her voice and various instruments to create soundscapes that bathe participants in sounds and vibrations.
She tells me that some people find the sounds very loud and harsh so anyone who's feeling sensitive might want to choose a mat that's not near her. I think I'm probably particularly sensitive that day so I take a spot as far away as I can.
Man comes home to teach Māori, movement and mindfulness
Belinda gets the workshop under way with an hour of yoga, accompanied by Yee Ley providing some sound. The music is beautiful. My lack of recent yoga is telling but I start to enjoy the poses.
Before I know it, we're into the final pose, Savasana (corpse pose). Belinda tells us to get comfortable and cosy because now Yee Ley will be taking us deeper into the soundscape. For an hour.
Bring on the monkey mind: Am I going to be able to lie here that long? Will I ruin it for everyone else by coughing incessantly? Are things going to get really weird? And what about ...
Yee Ley's amazing voice and instruments take over. My eyes are leaking. My body feels as if it's sinking into the mat. What's going on? Oh, maybe I actually relaxed.
Before I know it, we're sitting up and I think it's the end of the workshop. Wrong.
It's my (nearly) worst nightmare. We're going to do some vocal vibration work. Oh god, why am I here?
It turns out to be quite cool actually. The vibration in the room is astounding as we breathe in then make vowel sounds together as we exhale. We start "freestyling" with the sounds and eventually peter to a natural close.
Now there's silence. We sit there, absorbing the experience. Nobody speaks.
Belinda and studio owner Simone Grant finally bring us back to earth with a few Namastes for Yee Ley and we pack up and leave.
I feel lighter in my mind and my body. I'm thinking I should do that vocal vibration stuff at home. What has happened to me?
Belinda and Simone have done a workshop with Yee Ley before but it's the first time they've brought her to the studio.
Belinda says she hopes it won't be the last time.
"I would love to do another one," Belinda said.
"I was really humbled to be able to bring that to Whanganui because I've done those kinds of workshops previously with other facilitators and know the power of them.
"We wanted to give people the safety and comfort of doing it with others in that environment and be able to let go. Everyone experiences something different.
"Having those sounds played live is really delicious."
Yee Ley uses a variety of instruments for her sound bath work including voice, crystal singing bowls, alchemy singing bowls, Tibetan bowls, reverie harp, quartz crystal pyramids, cosmic tone space drum, koshi chimes, Native Indian flute (Southern Cross), shamanic drum and more.
The Tickle My Feet workshop was the first event in a North Island tour Yee Ley is doing, with a second sold-out session in Whanganui at the Quaker Settlement.
The sound bath is difficult to describe so if you want to know more and hear some sample sounds, visit Yee Ley Lau's website http://www.yeeleylau.com