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.
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.
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.