Week 4: Yoga

Yoga. A hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, which includes breath control,  meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, which is good for improving health and relaxation. A few stretches on a mat, that will help me relieve me of the stresses of everyday working life, right?

It’s fair to say, I was very uneducated on yoga prior to my first ever session. First of all, I turned up wearing t-shirt, shorts, socks and trainers like I was about to run a marathon. All the gear, no idea sprang to mind. The first thing I was told by instructor Maddy, “You should take your shoes and socks off”.

Shoes and socks off, mat set up, I was ready to relax. Maddy started the session off by teaching us some key breathing techniques and relaxing our muscles, which really worked and I was actually beginning to think I might be good at yoga. Until we started the postures…

We started to move legs around into funny positions, and I would look around at the females in the room that knew what we were doing for guidance. Helen, the woman in front of me, had been 4 or 5 times, but considered herself a beginner aswell, so was trying to help me out.

“I bet you weren’t expecting to do some downward dog tonight”

Before this experience, I was adamant I would take this seriously and not laugh at any point. However, when we took up the ‘downward facing dog’ position and Helen turned around to me and said “I bet you weren’t expecting to do some downward dog tonight” with a bit of a cheeky grin on her face, I could not help but burst into laughter and fall from the position.

Downward Facing Dog Position
Downward Facing Dog Position

We later started to take up some floor based positions, where we would stretch one leg fully out, whilst bending the other towards the stomach. Then you would lean forward, reach with your hands to touch your toes and rest your head on your knees. Whilst everyone was doing that, I was attempting to lean forward and touch my toes, but getting no where near, and frankly not looking like I was even trying to stretch. Football over the years, hasn’t helped with my hamstrings.

My second major lack of knowledge, was just how hard yoga was. People warned me it was hard in the lead up to this, but I completely underestimated it. I didn’t turn up with a drink, didn’t bring a towel, I had no idea what I was in for. There were times during the workout (I’m calling it a workout now, it was that tough) I was sweating buckets and my muscles were shaking as I would try and hold on to the positions. What made it worse, as I was shaking like jelly, the women around me were making it look SO easy! I’ve always been quite a sporty guy, but some these positions just felt completely alien to me.

To end the session, Maddy took us on a relaxing journey by talking to our minds. She had us lay flat on the ground, with arms and legs flopped out, and told us to close our eyes. In her soothing tone of voice, she slowly told relax single parts of our bodies, whilst using the breathing techniques she had taught. “Feel the relaxation flow to your fingers, up your arm, into your chest” etc etc. It was lovely, without doubt my favourite part of the session. I really got into it, and was nearly asleep by the time she finished the session. I had to slowly wake up my body, starting with the fingers and toes and get back into the room.

It was all done, it was hard work but I definitely had a ‘feel good’ feeling afterwards, and I slept like a baby that evening… Whether that was exhaustion from the workout or just the relaxing techniques working, I don’t know. But it certainly worked.

Namaste!
Namaste!

Thanks to Maddy Scott for letting me into her class, she was great and certainly worked to my level.

One month out of twelve complete of my comfort zone challenge. Looking forward to what February brings.

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Week 3: A genuine blind date

In a world where your next relationship/date seems to come from Tinder or some form of social media, this week’s task was extremely refreshing. A genuine blind date. No pictures, no swiping, no ‘liking’ pictures, no small talk prior to the date, just an open mind and trust in a friend.

Off the back of last week’s post, my colleague at work, Poppy, contacted me to bring up the idea. Traditionally, this is something I’d never even consider, my only experiences of a blind date is Cilla Black’s ITV programme or David Brent’s blind date in The Office. So it was an perfect idea for this challenge.

How it all started...
How it all started…

After accepting the offer, all I was told was I’d be meeting a Daisy, aged 20, who’s brunette. I did have mild panic attacks the day before, where I drew on the varied advice from people I knew. One person said “As soon as she sees you, she will love you and then she will talk to you and will love you more”, though this is something my mum would say, I promise it wasn’t her! Then I went to the boys for advice, to which I was advised “Just don’t faint this week”. Brilliant.

Before I go any further, I’d like to make clear that this blog post isn’t about rating how the date went. It would be unfair on Daisy and besides it’s none of your business. This is all about the experience.

Meeting at Brighton Pier at 6pm, I made sure I was fashionably late by arriving 15 minutes early. Thinking I’d be greeted by a Daisy, I was greeted by Rachel, the storm that happened to be taking place in Brighton at the time. Rachel was angry and was doing her best to brush me off my feet before my date even started. Hopefully Daisy would be a bit kinder.

Only when it got to the date, it occurred that she may turn up, see me and leave. You can see by the group ‘WhatsApp’ conversation, I was cool as a cucumber.

Calm and collected
Calm and collected

The good news is she turned up, recognised me from the pictures she had seen and didn’t feel the need to turn around. We got out of the storm, had a meal and went on to drink a few cocktails.

It’s hard to describe the energy I felt before and throughout the evening. Having no idea who was going to turn up and not knowing a thing about their background, was brilliant. There were no expectations and it turned out to be a fun evening. Yeah, it was a risk, but it goes to show you should trust your friends. I knew Poppy was unlikely to stitch me up; she knew both of us and thought we’d get on…. which we did. There were thousands of things to talk about and no pressure at all. The most pressure I had all evening was choosing which cocktails to choose. The ‘Songbird’, chosen purely as it’s an Oasis song, was a success. The Martini, if it’s good enough for James Bond, it’s good enough for me, wasn’t quite so successful.

I’d honestly encourage people to give something like this a go. Trust your friends, take the whole ‘looks’ element out of it and chuck yourselves in the deep end. As I said to myself before the whole thing, what’s the worst that could happen?….. (I didn’t faint this week!)

As always, ideas are encouraged. The list is growing!

Week 2: Giving Blood

Buoyed by all the supportive messages from my first post, I went into week two with an invincible optimism that I could take on the world.

Week two’s task would consist of turning up, giving blood, take a picture, and go home… So I thought.

Having filled out all the forms and having had my blood checked, I was all good to go. “Just go back to the waiting area, it’ll be about a half hour wait” the nurse told me. I received the above tweet, from my friend James Potten, in this half hour wait. I chuckled to myself as the welcome forms tell you that a very small amount of people faint after giving blood.

Half an hour with a nervous energy flowing passed, and it was my turn to give blood. I took my jumper off, sat down and the nurse started to find my vein on my left arm.  It all happened quite quickly, before I knew it there was a sudden prick from the needle into the vein, which wasn’t the most pleasant experience. Once it was in, I was congratulated,  and I started to give a pint of my Group O blood. Giving blood certainly felt weird, but it didn’t hurt at all.  You are then encouraged to do some exercises to keep the blood flowing, including clenching and unclenching both your fist and your buttocks. I found myself clenching my buttocks in time with Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars – ‘Uptown Funk’ which happened to be playing in the background. The nurse took a picture and explained how the demands of blood have doubled over Christmas, so I really was doing a good thing. This made me feel even better as I clenched and unclenched my buttocks away to Bruno Mars.

All going well...
All going well…

The machine beeped, and I’d given my pint. It had taken me about 10 minutes to give blood, which I’m told is about the average time it takes. The nurse slowly got me up to my feet, and escorted me to the refreshment table, where I was offered a drink of squash and a packet of crisps from the table.

I felt great. I was sat down, munching away on my crisps whilst Keane were on in the background. Thinking I completed the task, I thought I’d better check my work emails, just in case I’ve missed anything whilst giving blood (showing the constant professional that I am). Seconds after opening an email, I felt very light headed, and was asked one of the nurses “Are you okay?”.. “I’m fine, I just feel…..” was my reply, as I fell into an amazing dream with Keane continuing to sing. I was later told, I managed to reply to that email, with a blank email!

I woke up with my head being cuddled and a woman’s voice softly saying “Can you hear me?”.. I think I replied with a weird grunt and then they quickly put my on my back with my legs on a ramp, and started to fan me.

Whether it was the lack of blood to the head or the general comedic value of the situation, for the next five minutes I could not stop giggling! Everything the lovely Sister Evelyn asked me I found hilarious. She also found it quite amusing when I decided to take a selfie, moments after fainting (I wasn’t thinking straight okay!). She explained I probably didn’t drink enough water in the run up to giving blood, and being my first time I was probably anxious.

The post faint selfie!
The post faint selfie!

The best part of this story, and maybe the kind of reason I want to do these challenges, was what a gentlemen said to me once I had recovered.

“Don’t worry mate, I fainted and pissed myself after my first time and I’ve now done it 91 times. Don’t let it put you off!”

What a great message to leave on and take from this experience. Turn a setback, into a comeback. With this ringing in my ear, I’ve booked my next appointment to give blood on May 7th and hope maybe I can make it up to 91 times.

Week 2 – Already fainted. Pray for Tom.

Keep your ideas coming in guys… One new experience out side my comfort zone, for each week of the year.

52 weeks, 52 tasks.

New Year’s Resolution – Stepping outside my comfort zone.

According to Forbes’ Magazine, just 8% of people achieve their New Years Resolution. Fortunately, for the last two years I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of that 8%. In 2013, I gave up hangovers with success; and in 2014 I stopped trying to act like I was Dan Blizerian, thinking I’m some sort of millionaire, after getting a full time job. So I’m good at this New Year Resolution stuff. So here’s the deal, 2015 I want to challenge myself!

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch.

I love this quote, mainly because it enforces the message if you’re willing to change, your life will change also. For years, I’ve been brandishing the quote to friends and colleagues suggesting they need to step out of their comfort zone, like I am some kind of motivational guru that can tell. It was only after a disastrous ‘date’ at the end of November, I realised, I’m living in my comfort zone… and well within it.

The Plan of Action

– 52 tasks outside my usual day to day activities
– 1 per week
– Documented each week

Ground Rules

Thought I’d set some ground rules originally to stop this getting out of hand:

– Nothing involved with this should effect my professional work life
– Spending all my money, doesn’t constitute stepping out of my comfort zone.
– Nothing that effects my personal appearance (linked to the first rule)
– Any thing too risky, particularly with my life, will be binned.

Ideas

Ideas are very welcome… Would you believe, I haven’t filled up all 52 weeks yet!

Week 1 and 2

So I’m covering week one by starting up this blog to document all the progress… Yes it counts, I’ve never done this before.

Week 2, I’ll be giving blood…

ONE DOWN, FIFTY ONE TO GO