A very strange thing has happened.
If you know me, or have followed me for a while, you will know that I hate yoga. Hate, loathe, detest, despise. Strong words, but I used to find it very stressful. I HATE focussing on breathing and I HATE listening to other people breathe even more. Yes, I know breathing is good because not breathing leads to unfortunate consequences, but that doesn’t mean I want to hear it. I’m also not very bendy. I get confused and tied up in knots. I can’t do a crow. Telling me to twist left with my right arm behind my left leg, with my right leg in the air is incredibly confusing and I will get lost and fall over and then get stressed. Yoga is STRESSFUL.
But something very odd happened recently. My hatred for yoga suddenly seems to be in the past tense. I suddenly seem to have a grudging acceptance of yoga. More than that, I seem to be ENJOYING it. How did that happen? I’m not going to lie, I’m not going to yoga every week, but I’ve dropped into a few different classes recently and have been following a few sessions on YouTube and I think it is making a difference already. I’m still not very bendy. But I do seem to be finding it a little easier to get my breathing under control when running and my hips feel looser.
The first class I enjoyed was the Boxing Yoga class I attended at the 3ness Fitness Weekender. It sounds violent and if I’m honest, that’s what initially appealed to me. I could punch in the name of yoga and claim it to be relaxing! Movements are controlled like in yoga, but are continuous and set to music, incorporating boxing moves. It’s great for a full body workout, I felt nicely stretched and really enjoyed it. It’s designed to increase sporting performance and abandons the “om” factor, which suits me just fine.
Then a couple of weeks back, I attended a 7am yoga session with Carnival Cruises, at The National Theatre. I’m not a 7am person generally, but this was a great way to start the day. Our teacher gently warmed us up, before taking us through some more energetic moves, complete with plenty of Downward Dog. For all my whining about the early start, it was a great way to start the day and I felt really relaxed and invigorated. This was probably the first time that I felt really energised after a yoga class and I definitely enjoyed my massage and breakfast after. Why can’t all mornings start like that?
Last week, I attended a class at Union Station Yoga in Clapham. I was a bit nervous about this class because it was in a proper studio. Not gonna lie, it was energetic and I found it tough with all the planks – but I LOVED it! This was the class that confirmed the yoga bug. Once again, I felt stretched out and full of energy. I wasn’t as bendy as the others and some moves I found really hard, but the teacher taught us our to feel our own limits and that we should focus on how WE feel. It made me realise, it doesn’t matter if someone else can touch their toes and I can only do my shins – I’m still getting a workout that is beneficial for me.
And I think that was what I needed to realise. Yoga is for my benefit. It’s not for anyone else. And if I can only reach half as far as everyone else, that’s what my body currently needs to benefit from it. And that’s ok.
Progression is personal.
I plan to start attending yoga each week now and I’m really excited to see how it continues to benefit my running. And maybe one day, I’ll be able to touch my toes. But if I can’t? That’s okay too.