Source: Mail on Sunday's Night and Day magazine
Author: Paul Clements
Date: 13 September 1998.
Forwarded to me by the author.
These days, the artist formerly known as dowdy is fitter and happier. The change is partly due to her recent discovery of yoga, which she enjoys every week at a centre near her north London home. 'You see,' she says, 'I wasn't an exercise person then.'
Tanita Tikaram is a self-confessed morning person, and every Friday is up and out of her north London home by 7.30am. 'It's the perfect time for a yoga class,' she laughs. 'It sets you up for the day and makes you feel so superior.'These days, Tikaram is a fitter, happier soul. Having notched up some seven million album sales in the 10 years since her first single, 'Good Tradition', the misery-guts look which was the cornerstone of her rather severe image in the late Eighties is now long gone. The cover of The Cappuccino Songs, her decidedly upbeat new album, has her looking positively lithe and glamorous.
The dramatic change, she explains, stems partly from her exercise regime. A regular jogger and occasional swimmer, she is also an enthusiastic convert to the mental and physical delights of yoga. Two years ago, Tikaram discovered that her local branch of Neal's Yard, tucked away from the bustle of noisy Camden, offered tutored yoga classes. Primed with a few techniques picked up during her childhood from a Hindu aunt in Fiji, she signed up as a beginner. 'Aunt Muno would be up at 6 o'clock doing yoga,' she recalls. 'Whenever I went over there to visit, I'd get up early to mirror her moves.'
Nowadays, Tikaram's early morning class has become a minor highlight of her week. 'I do go to other places, but this is my favourite, because there are only four or five of us in the beginners' class. To move into the intermediate class, you have to be able to stand on your head for five minutes. Whenever I've gone past their room, they're always in the maddest positions.'
Like other parts of her life, Tikaram doesn't like to take yoga too seriously. 'I've been to other centres around London which are more "my body is my temple", which I find a bit intimidating. In this one, you get to have a laugh.'
When she's not away from home, which, she admits, is not often at the moment, Tikaram likes to practise her techniques with a trainer three times a week. When she's off on tour or in Paris, where she shares a place with her partner of six years, she allows herself to be a bit more slack. 'If I'm abroad, I'll generally go for a jog instead,' she says. 'It's a lot easier than finding drop-in classes. I'm always scared of getting a stroppy teacher who'll turn me off.'
But there was a time during her formative teenage years when Tikaram would shy away from all forms of exercise. Signed to a record company when she was barely clutching her A-levels, the 18-year-old Tikaram wasn't overly interested in things like her appearance or keeping fit. Forced to do aerobics at college, she thinks back with a shudder. 'You see, I wasn't an exercise person then,' she admits, with a burst of giggles.
At 28, Tikaram now finds the bending and stretching provides most of the physical fitness as well as the mental space she needs. 'Yoga's a lot about getting your head together, and gives you plenty of time to think. It also teaches you to recognise your limits. With other sporting activities, you're trying to push your body to some imagined burn-off.'
And what are her limits? 'Well, I don't think I can put my foot behind my head - actually, I've never been asked to - but I can do the splits. Pretty impressive for someone who's nearly 30.' She lets out another deep chuckle. 'That's my party trick.'