Joseph Encinia has an incredible body. His honed, muscular physique is worthy of an Olympian. But it is what he can do with it that is most astonishing. We are chatting in a lobby of the Radisson Hotel, at Los Angeles Airport, when he asks: ‘Do you want me to do full Locust?’
He lies on his front, arms sandwiched beneath his body. Slowly, he raises his legs, at first to about 45 degrees, so yes, he looks a bit like a locust. Then the legs continue to rise, so they are vertical and beyond, until his knees bend and he places his feet on top of his head.
His body forms an almost perfect circle. As if this wasn’t enough, he gracefully hoists himself up on to straightened arms. I feel I should clap – but I’m simply too gobsmacked. We are not watching a circus act, and Joseph isn’t a contortionist. He is a yoga teacher.
And more remarkable than this act of superhuman bendiness is that just eight years ago the 27-year-old Texan was confined to a hospital bed having suffered heart failure, a side effect of the medication used to control juvenile arthritis.