I’ve got a dirty little secret. Something that I need to get off my chest. I have never done yoga. No Bikram, no Hatha, no Vintasa, no Ashtanga, no Iyengar… Nothing.
You may find it hard to believe but then again, if you read about my first couple of yoga sessions you may not.
I’m a certified personal trainer and fully understand and appreciate the benefits of flexibility. I always perform my corrective stretches and mobility routine before any exercise.
In fact, I can touch my toes with my legs straight! How about that? Ok, I’m no Stretch Armstrong but I foolishly thought I didn’t need yoga in my life.
How wrong was I?
I was worried that I would get into a position and never come out of it again. I was worried that I would hear a big split going into a windmill pose and realise it was my hamstring and not my shorts. I was worried that a 100 lb woman would show me up with her athleticism.
To be honest, my ego got in the way. Now, I’m not saying I have a big ego but the fact is, we all have an ego, every one of us.
It’s human nature that we don’t want to bruise our ego. It’s why we avoid things we know we’re not good at. We don’t want to feel inferior to others.
But it was time to leave the ego at the door. Otherwise, I knew I would never grow as a person.
It was time to grow (a pair) and time to lengthen every muscle in my body.
So, last week my wife Lisa and I started an introductory yoga course at the Mind and Body Healing School in Chiang Mai, Thailand with the brilliant and inspirational Rod Savvides. This guy really knows his stuff. And he’s a Londoner, so I was happy.
Shake, Rattle and Roll
Lisa had practiced Yoga before. She had been secretly waiting for this week to come around. It was going to be payback to see me shake and shiver like Elvis Presley, after all the personal training sessions she’d endured from me in the past.
Elvis had left the building and come straight into our yoga studio. After a few basic standing variations of the Mountain Pose, we moved onto a Tree Pose stretch. It was time to shake, rattle and roll as I managed to balance on one leg whilst placing the sole of the other foot on my inner thigh.
The next day, we worked on Triangle Poses and intense Side Stretches, which stretched out my hamstrings like never before.
The stretching was literally making me sweat, I’m not opposed to sweating but I didn’t expect it by following a guy in Lulu Lemon pants. Again, I was wrong. I was having a workout and not a dumbbell in sight.
As the week progressed, so did we, moving onto more advanced poses like the Extended Lateral Angle Pose and the Warrior Poses. I couldn’t help but question why this was called the Warrior Pose. I didn’t feel like a warrior doing it, I felt like a quivering wreck who would run a mile at the first sign of battle!
I accepted that the Downward Facing Dog and Cobbler Pose just weren’t designed for my body. Period.
Lisa and our instructor, Rod, seemed to be holding positions that I clearly could not get into anytime soon. This was going to need more work than I thought. Maybe by next Christmas.
The Supported Shoulder Stand was the real humbling moment of the whole week. You rest on your shoulders and lift your legs up over your head.
Lisa flipped up seamlessly as if she was some teenage Soviet gymnast and yours truly was doing what I can only describe as riding an upside down unicycle in mid air without the wheel.
This was my limitation and as we are only as strong as our weakest link I was determined to get it right. I tried, tried and…then Rod just told me to stop.
The final day saw us salute to the sun so we could complete the practice in it’s entirety. This pose is done at the very beginning of the class. And for that reason along with the fact I like sunbathing, I thought this would be a breeze. I had this pose in my locker. Easy.
Sun Salutation got my mind working overtime. A sequence of move after move demanded my full and undivided concentration. That’s when I realised what Rod was explaining to us at the beginning of the course.
He described how yoga is exercise for the mind and not just every tight muscle in your body. Our minds need to be calm to help us think positively, concentrate and meditate. Once we achieve this in our lives we fill ourselves with joy and happiness.
By the end of the introductory course, I was filled with joy and happiness. Not because the week was over but because I had found yoga and loved it.
I could move easier into the poses. And with more grace. I felt like I was walking taller and gained a few inches, which is important when you’re 5’9″ and I didn’t feel any stiffness in my back after hours at the desk writing blogs like this.
Despite all my hesitation, muttering under my breath and the fact that my groin had been stretched the most it has been in my whole life, I can confidently say I will continue with yoga in 2014. It’s one of my New Year’s Resolutions and it’s got off to a flying start.
I even had a couple of favourite poses too, like the Child Pose where you just lie down with your knees tucked under your chest and the best one of them all, the Corpse Pose where you lie on your back like a dead man and chill out. It was my time.
For those who haven’t tried yoga or sitting on the fence whether to give it a go, have a quick read through the benefits below:
- Helps eliminate stress.
- Rejuvenates the mind and body.
- Soothes the nervous system.
- Activates the glandular system.
- Nourishes the organs.
- Tones the muscular system.
- Strengthens the bones.
- Stretches and lubricates the body, especially the spine.
- Keeps us young and energises us free from sickness.
- Helps bring emotional stability and better use of our mind.
Learn from my mistakes and don’t wait. Join up to an introductory yoga course in your area as soon as you can! Do not procrastinate, just get it done!
If you’re a Yoga teacher or practice yoga regularly, let me know your comments below. It would be great to hear from the pros.