Wednesday, 17 November 2010
"Hi mate. You appear to be getting very New Age. I'm glad we've already had your stag do or I fear it would now have been a naked drumming session in the New Forest".
Not sure I need to say much else... :)
So these are the top 6 reasons why I think that more 'blokes' don't practice yoga. Let me know what you think...
Tuesday, 9 November 2010
I'm writing this blog piece from a hotel restaurant in Dubai while I wait for my somewhat uninspiring dinner to arrive (pasta napolitano...the best I could find on the menu).
I have to travel quite a lot for work and to be honest it's not something I particularly relish for a number of reasons. Firstly, I'm a bit of a homebody and prefer to spend my time at home amongst creature comforts than in far flung corners of the globe (well, at least when it's for work - not so when it's for pleasure).
Also when I'm travelling I often find it difficult to eat healthily - boredom, jetlag and not cooking for yourself all conspire to kill the best of intentions with regards to diet.
And finally I don't like that my travel obligations often interrupt my yoga routine. It's pretty difficult to squeeze practice in when you spend a whole day travelling and although you can sometimes work around it by making that particular day your rest day, it's not always possible.
It is always interesting to see what the hotel room will be like though and how conducive to practice it will be (my first question when I checked in last night - "how big is the room?")! I don't like to practice in hotel gyms with other people around as I find it distracting, so I always opt to work around whatever layout the bedroom has to offer. This can involve having to spend the first 30 minutes of my stay in a hotel completely rearranging the furniture to accommodate my mat...and wandering around the room wafting my arms about to check for 'clearance'.
I just finished a practice session wedged between the end of my bed and a floor to ceiling window - unfortunately it only overlooks a highway as otherwise it could have been quite inspirational, but alas no. It was an ok session although certain postures - such as supta padangusthasana - were completely out of the question. I also struggled for concentration a bit as a nightclub or bar in the near vicinity insisted on playing a succession of 70s funk/soul disco tunes which were nigh on impossible to ignore...but I managed to push on through and am glad now that I did so.
Despite these trials and tribulations I'll always try my best to ensure I fit some yoga practice into my work trips - even if it's not perfect, some practice is better than none after all. And as my wife quite rightly says - what better way to bring a little piece of home with me on my travels?
Monday, 25 October 2010
After my first incredible experiences of yoga in India I was really keen to continue practicing on my return to the UK. My gym ran a number of classes at weekends and I tried out both Hatha and Iyengar - I enjoyed these classes a lot and attended both sporadically. Then one Sunday morning my girlfriend went to an Ashtanga class (it was too early on a Sunday for me) and came back absolutely raving about it...she couldn't stop telling me how tough it had been, how challenging, how exhilarating and so I resolved to go along with her the following week.
Well all I can is she wasn't lying! To this day my memories of this class are crystal clear. Firstly I remember feeling completely bewildered as the rest of the class moved seamlessly through their sun salutations and the standing sequence whilst I floundered about like someone in the early stages of a fit - I just couldn't work out what was going on. Thankfully the teacher was an extremely patient chap and he coached me through each posture to ensure I just about kept pace with the others.
My second memory is that come the end of the sun salutations my shoulders felt like they’d turned to mush. At the time I was visiting the gym to lift weights 3 or 4 times a week but even so I was in complete agony as I trembled my way through the last few rounds of surya namaskara b.
And my legs and hips! 20 years of playing sport with scant regard for stretching had left me with hamstrings and hips that had roughly the elastic qualities of a lump of granite. Touch my toes? I could barely reach my knee caps.
The biggest surprise was still to come however. We moved into the primary series and the teacher instructed us to perform something called a 'vinyasa' between postures. As he talked me through the requirements of this movement I just could not understand how it was physically possible to get anywhere even close to performing it...it was ridiculous and to my mind an impossible ask (incidentally I often use that memory as incentive and encouragement when I'm struggling with a particular asana...and I struggle with a lot of them!).
Despite (or perhaps because of!) these challenges I thoroughly enjoyed the class and over the next months I became something of a regular. At first I attended once a week and that was pretty much the extent of my practice – understandably my progress was limited but I was still hooked on going to the gym and just couldn’t find time for both.
However a year or so in my attitude gradually started to change. I introduced self-practice to the mix and started switching out some of my gym sessions for yoga practice instead. About 6 months later the gym membership had pretty much become surplus to requirements and these days (2 years into my yoga journey) I try to practice 6 days a week…including weekly led classes with the same teacher.
So that really concludes the background to my yoga story – moving forward my posts will be less about me and more about my thoughts and observations on yoga…probably a relief to hear.
I think though that I should just conclude by saying how lucky I feel to have found yoga and for it to have become such an important part of my life. At first the draw was purely physical but as I progress further, the esoteric and spiritual qualities of yoga are becoming equally important, if not more so. I’m obviously just at the start of my yoga journey and I’m incredibly excited (and somewhat overawed at times) by just how much there is to learn…it’s going to be great fun and I look forward to sharing it on this blog.