One of the things I’ve never talked about here on the blog is my big passion for Yoga.
I cannot think why but I am now going to put that straight and address this area of my life in greater detail.
When I was younger, I regarded Yoga as being the preserve of hippies.
You were as likely to find me on a mat doing a Downward Dog as you were to find me backpacking. No chance.
I think I’ve made it quite clear that I’m not a fan of exercise – I don’t get the buzz. Most of us don’t. I can’t even fake it until I make it on this one.
But I do with Yoga. I do not joke when I say that I leave the class feeling like a giraffe. I feel stretched, tall and relaxed and as though I could walk forever. It’s a feeling that I’ve never left a cardio studio with. Mad as it sounds.
But that’s good right?
I think so.
And it’s not just exercise, it’s a bit of a lifestyle thing too.
One of the reasons Yoga has become more relevant for me again is because I had a forced break from exercise because of a back problem.
Wrongly, through misinformation I avoided Yoga. Big mistake – I almost seized up and the problem continued. Fast forward to a new Osteopath and advice and I am now fully back in the swing. I am becoming more flexible again and my limbs are more than able to negotiate my birthday celebration in Ibiza later this year.
More importantly though is the well being factor. I realise now that for me and a woman of my tender years, Yoga has to be a way of life. It is essential. I need to build it into my schedule. I am not able to attend many classes but there are couple that fit nicely into my week and I don’t push them out. To me that’s half the battle. Not flaking on the commitment.
And therein lies a problem. To do so smacks of self-indulgence. It yells that you can’t be busy enough and that you’ve got too much time on your hands.
But guess what? I care more about my well-being now than how busy people think I am. It’s all about the ‘giraffe’ for me.
And like everyone else, I could also do with a bit of relaxation from the busy life and busy head syndrome. I’m also not able to do any high impact exercise at the moment.
So, I suppose my purpose for writing this is to demystify this ancient art for the lamen and the potential cynic (like me).
I also feel it is my duty to share the secret of a non-punishing form of exercise to one and all.
And this is where it comes to the practice. Because I’ve realised after a while that it is a ‘journey’.
This may make you panic but please don’t – you aren’t suddenly going to see me wearing a Toga and Sandals on the school run. I’m still the same person.
Let me explain.
When I first walked into a Yoga class, I felt decidedly out of my depth. All the talk of sun-salutations, vinyasa, warriors and cat cows made me feel like, well – like an old cow!
I wasn’t very bendy. Think old-fashioned Barbie model pre-bendy limbs.
This is where the practice and the learning journey comes in. Because you do learn, little by little how to do the exercises correctly and how to breath. And you also find the moves easier the more you practice.
The breathing and the stretching I have learned, go hand in hand. The more you breath, the deeper the stretch.
Stretching is wonderful. If you think about that first stretch in the morning and how good that feels, Yoga goes far beyond. I have stretched areas of my body that I didn’t know existed. But they sure needed stretching!
And this brings me on to my point about breathing.
If you are anything like me, I hold my breath A LOT. This is heightened during an exercise class and periods of tension. I think I probably speak for many here.
Yoga is all about breathing. And this is where my crush comes in. I want to be among the noisy breathers of the class. As I listen to their Ujjayi breaths, I feel envy with my insignificant puff and spend the class imagining it were me making all the professional breathing noises. You can’t tell in a full class.
And if we think about it, breathing is actually quite a good life skill to have so I may as well be good at it.
I have spent some time with a local yoga instructor, Rachel Skipper for some 1:1 sessions around breathing and technique. Rachel has helped me work through breathing and stretching and I have really benefitted from this extra tuition.
This is actually very important because breathing correctly not only deepens a stretch, it helps to improve flexibility.
You can find out more about Rachel here at Rachel Skipper Yoga. Rachel is also offering a 25% discount on her 1:1 sessions for anyone booking a session that mentions this post.
The benefits to Yoga are endless.
The key to me showing up to a class is finding one that is really convenient and local. Like one that you have to walk past to get to your next destination. This is a big factor in not flaking too.
If I have to travel or the time doesn’t work, I’m not going to show up. I make it as simple as possible for myself.
If I keep practising, this might be me one day!
And I guess this brings me on to my very exciting next point.
Alongside Yoga sits meditation. This is something that I have been keen to explore more. Bearing in mind that me and meditation couldn’t be any further apart, I am attempting to demystify this practice for the lamen. That is me.
And the cynic. That is also me.
Isn’t this taking personal development a bit too far? A bit out there for someone straight laced like me?
I know what you are thinking.
You don’t mind a candle and a bit of lavender – but none of this ‘out there’ stuff.
Good. Me too. We are on the same page.
Deep breath until next time.