If you follow me on twitter you will know I started doing yoga regularly last year. An instructor comes in to work one lunchtime a week, and at £2.50 per lesson I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. And now I’m hooked, good and proper. So let me share with you some things I’ve learned about life and myself while bending in to downward-facing dog.
1. Take time to breathe
I know, I know – everyone says this. But it really is a continuing surprise to me how much simpler difficult things become when you stop and take a breath. Yoga is all about breathing – you move with a breath, hold for a breath, use a breath to drop down further in to a stretch. And the relief when, wobbling as I hold a tricky pose, the instructor says “just hold for one more breath”. I know I can get through anything that seems insurmountable if I can just get through this next breath.
2. Life needs balance
And we’re back to me wobbling away on my mat! I don’t mean physical balance, although I do feel like mine is gradually improving (I spend less time diving out of Warrior 3 than I used to anyway). Because I’m taking an hour out of the working week to stop, and stretch and slow down, I feel more balanced. I can spend so much of my time doing things for others, doing what is needed of me that it’s nice just to allow me some time for me.
3. My body is amazing
No really – look at all the things I can do with it. I can lie down, sit, stand up. Reach my arms up, out, forwards. Lift my legs, bend my knees, flex my feet. My body can remember sequences my conscious brain has forgotten, and it gets stronger and more sure of the movements each time I do them. When I think I’ve taken my body as far as it can go I hold, take a breath (see above) and push it just that little bit further. Any time I start to worry about an imperfection of my body, I just remember all the things I can do with it.
4. I need to remember to relax
I’ll be twisted in to eagle pose, jaw clenched and shoulders pushed up, and I won’t even realise it until the instructor says “relax”. So I drop my shoulders, let my jaw relax and push down through my tailbone. Suddenly I feel stronger, more stable and more certain. When I think I’m relaxing at home, sprawled on the sofa or something, I’ll realise I’m still tensing up, holding on to something, and I need to remind myself to let go… relax.
5. I don’t have to be the best at something to enjoy it
I’m not good at yoga. No really – no self depreciation there. I’m uncoordinated, unfit, get my left and right mixed up, and (although I blame it on my foot injury from a couple of years ago) I’ve never had good balance. But that’s fine, because I am still getting something out of yoga. I am improving by doing, something I often lack the patience for. I know with crafting I tend to give up if I don’t master a new skill quickly (see knitting, crochet, painting, jewellery making…), but I don’t feel that frustration with yoga. It’s the journey, not the destination, and I need to remember that when I’m off the mat
And a bonus lesson…
6. My favourite poses seem to be the ones that make me look the most ridiculous.
See – happy baby.
Have you tried yoga? What’s your favourite pose? If you’re interested in starting yoga, try from the comfort of your own home with Do Yoga With Me. To find instructor-led classes in your area, check out http://www.classfinder.org.uk/.
(All images are free from https://pixabay.com/ because nobody is ready for photos of me mid sun-salutation yet)