I enjoy exercise. Weird, I know. I’m certainly no athlete but push myself to workout as I know how good I feel afterwards. Lately, I have struggled with motivation. However, I figure if I am going to sit on the lounge and watch TV, then I may as well do it on the bike at the gym. So far, that’s working fine.
However as the big 4-0 rapidly approaches, my body seems to crave stretching. It may be more that I can’t exercise to the intensity that I used to, but that’s the line I’m going with. Muscles ache and tense up a little more than they used to and flexibility simply isn’t what it used to be. Potentially the flexibility was never there to begin with, but I’m blaming age!
So in order to assist my maturing body, I decided a little Yoga might help. That and of course as all good personal trainers and exercise books recommend to incorporate some sort of stretching into your training, I thought this would be a winner.
After doing an exhaustive amount of research, yes, probably not necessary but a classic procrastination tactic of mine, I decided on a studio. With an extra hours sleep for my body and a dinner full of garlic the night before, I set off for my first class. I was hoping there was no partner work required given the dinner consumed the night before.
I got to the studio in plenty of time, which is quite unlike me. I walked nervously up the stairs and was welcomed by the lovely instructor who took my money. She kindly suggested I find a spot near the front of the class so she can help me. Look let’s face it, any first-timer to anything will tell you, we usually try to be anywhere but the front of the class so we can pretend to be inconspicuous and well, hide.
I took my shoes and socks off, grabbed a mat and walked into the room. I then heard the instructor say, “you’ll need a block and a strap”. As a first time yogi, I was most concerned. This was yoga I had come to, wasn’t it? Or were going to be re-enacting a scene from “Fifty Shades of Grey” and Christian Grey is suddenly going to appear. Now there’s a wonderful, lustful thought! Anyway, not quite sure what I would need a block and a strap for however a lovely other yogi assisted me with locating these intriguing items.
Sitting on my mat waiting for the class to being, I suddenly chastised myself. Looking down at my embarrassingly dreadful feet, how could I come to yoga with feet like these? Where do I start?
Firstly, the old nail polish hadn’t quite been removed so the toes were looking quite scrappy with the last remaining scatters of colour on the toes. Secondly, thanks to some inherited bunions, there was some gross dead skin which I hadn’t pumiced off in probably quite a few months. Thirdly, I now need to remind myself that a razor should extend to the toes and not just finish at the ankles. They weren’t gorilla toes, but there were a couple of hairs which were probably not for exposing in such an environment as this.
At least the rest of me was okay. Though I was a little concerned at the ¾ tights I had on, as my muffin top has a tendency to spill out at very inappropriate times.
So beauty feet faux pas aside… The class commences with some gentle breathing to focus yourself. I surprised myself by managing to forget I was at the front of the class and under the watchful eye of the instructor. However, the mind wandered a little as the little voice in my head kept thinking about the coffee I would be having after the class. Focus Jen…back to the class….listen to the instructor. Where were we?
That’s right, we then loosened our shoulders, arms, wrists and ankle joints. I was introduced to various poses such as downward dog, warrior 1, garland pose, bridge pose and one-legged King Pigeon Pose (which I loved although my hips were as tight as a camels arse in a sandstorm). One stretch which involves bringing the knee to the chest and taking it slightly out to the side, is apparently particularly good for bloating. You’ll be pleased to know there were no “good vibrations” omitted when performing this pose. I bet if you ask a yoga teacher, there’s a “good vibration” story in all of them.
I always judge how I am going as a newbie in a class by how many times the instructor feels the need to correct me. Well, I am very proud to report I was only corrected once. Yep, that’s right, just a mere one time only during the class. Clearly a natural, wouldn’t you think?
I hear you asking, what did you use the block for? The block was used when we performed the bridge pose. Lying on your back, with knees bent and heels drawn close to your buttocks, hands flat on the floor by your sides. You press down through your feet to lift your buttocks off the floor, while pushing your arms into the floor and extending through your fingertips. You then place the block (on it’s side) under your buttocks to provide support. Simple really!
Now the strap was used like a personal trainer to assist when stretching your hamstrings. I have used a towel before at the gym, to extend the stretch and ensure I am really feeling it.
We did some interesting breathing where we closed one nostril, inhaled through the other, then closed that nostril, open the other nostril and exhaled. This could have been a frightfully embarrassing experience with snot snorted in all directions. I am pleased to report this was not the case.
The last part of the class was some meditation with focus on the breath and the chant of the classic word, “om” to completely relax the mind and body.
In the end, my body felt relaxed and muscles stretched to alleviate any tension. I can only describe the feel ing afterwards as complete bliss and a sense of calmness felt which is both refreshing and invigorating. Rest assured my body was ever so thankful for the session and I have to say, a potential yoga devotee is on the way.
(Always consult your doctor before commencing any exercise program).