Falling without style

Does this even count as a confession? Well, maybe it does if you are reading this assuming that somebody who’s done yoga for a long time is “good” at it and therefore has amazing balance.

I fall over when I do yoga.

Not all the time, but fairly often. I actually think it’s a good thing. Although on the flip side I would *love* to not have wobbly days!

When I wobble, my body is always telling me something, and sometimes I’m smart enough to listen. Some days it’s really basic – the room is too hot, I’ve eaten too much or too little. Over-heating gets me every time, I lose the focus I need to hold a balance and it just doesn’t work. If something like that is affecting me, the message is “ease up, back off, conserve your strength.”

Other days it’s much more a mind problem – too many thoughts, ideas or worries literally disturbing my balance. If it’s troubling me in yoga, it’s troubling me all the rest of the time, I just may have been trying to ignore it. Yoga gives me the space and insight to acknowledge that all is not well, and that’s the first step towards addressing it.

And then there are the days when everything is working well and I push too far. That’s when I giggle as I topple, because I’m playing with the edge – can I get better, go further, be stronger? Yes, there’s also a lesson in there about trying too hard, but done in a spirit of playfulness there’s no real harm.

Do you feel like testing your balance and laughing at yourself at the same time (or at me, that’s allowed too!)? Join us at Louth Yoga Studio and give it a go!

Embracing uncool

Think yoga and some stereotypes probably jump straight into your mind. I am willing to bet that many of them involve very slim, elegant, dancer-types in immaculate outfits. So, another thing for me to confess – I don’t look like that.

Nope, not me. When I do yoga it’s often in ancient sportswear, and to be completely honest, my bulgy bits bulge, my saggy bits sag and my hair is wild and woolly by the end of the class (if not from the beginning!).

If you hold back from taking part in a class because you are worried about being judged on how you look, let me introduce you to some of the characters in a class.

First, there’s Ms Smug. She’s ultra-thin and super-bendy. In fact, she doesn’t need to do yoga, she just enjoys turning up to look superior to everyone else. You’re probably dreading meeting her (fortunately she’s a figment of your imagination!).

Next there’s Miss Enthusiastic. She knows all the moves and their names, and she’s pretty flexible. She’s been on her own journey and knows how great yoga has been for her, and just loves seeing other people feel the same benefits. She’ll try to make you feel at ease.

Finally we have Mrs Ordinary. She arrives at class feeling out of her depth, and would secretly like to resent all the slim young things around her, thinking wistfully back to her pre-children figure. Once class starts she finds she’s too focussed on breathing and following the instructions (which arm? you want me to put it where?!) to have any awareness of other people until the end of the session when she has a chance to chat and finds they are all really friendly and feel just as self-conscious as she did.

Do you recognise any of these characters? Which ones have you met (or feared you would meet)? Which one are you at the moment?

Come along to www.facebook.com/louthyoga and find out!

 

“Can’t get out of bed” yoga

Sometimes I’m feeling so lazy I don’t even get out of bed to do yoga.

Often on a weekend I wake up with stiff legs or an achy back and a general sense of lethargy. I know I need a good stretch to sort me out but I just can’t face getting out from under the duvet, and a full-on yoga session is way more than I can handle. So I cheat.

What I do at this stage isn’t proper yoga, it’s a distilled version that uses the elements that I need at the time. A full yoga session is much more mindful, incorporating movement, breath and focus, whereas what I need is a gentle awakening that allows my body to unknot itself and my mind to unfold to the day ahead. Forcing myself to full consciousness on days like this feels like surfacing from deep water too quickly, doing more harm than good.

For me, the problem areas are usually quads and hamstrings, and occasionally my lower or upper back. So I stay under the duvet as best I can and might bend one leg up to my chest, and then if I feel like pushing it I take hold of my toes or my calf and extend that leg towards the ceiling. It won’t go anywhere near straight at this stage, but that’s OK, I’m just enjoying the stretch and holding it for as long as it takes until I’ve had enough or I’ve reached my normal extent. Then the next leg.

Next step is to try to get my quads and hip flexors on speaking terms with me again. I can sit fairly comfortably with my legs bent beneath me and heels resting against my buttocks (like this), so I know that even on a stiff day I can keep one leg lying straight on the bed, and bend the other one up so the top part of the foot is flat on the mattress beside my bum. The great thing about doing this in bed is that there are loads of pillows around if I need to be propped up, for instance if I feel any strain around my knee.

I often like to follow with a spinal twist, starting lying flat, then bending both knees and rolling them to each side in turn, again just lying there with my shoulders flat on the mattress and allowing the stretch to soak into my muscles. Another way I’ve tried recently is to lie on my side, foetal position and to lower the top shoulder in the direction of the mattress – going forwards it seemed to target my upper back better, going backwards it reached into my waist and the outer part of my hip.

The advantage I have is that I know enough about the postures to do them unguided, and I’ve tuned in to my body enough to know what’s going to work for me. I would recommend attending classes to learn more – and never allowing any posture to cause pain. Discomfort yes, pain no.

Stay updated with Louth Yoga Studio as we get ready for classes starting on January 2018 by following us on Facebook.

I probably shouldn’t be telling you this…

You might know that yoga has been an important part of my life for many years, but I have a confession, and it relates to my previous one about apathy.

I ought to whisper this – sometimes I find yoga a bit boring.

OK, confession done, I’m outed – why am I opening a yoga studio?! The strange thing is that when I go away on holiday, especially if on a retreat with lots of classes included, I can do yoga several times a day for days on end without tiring of it. Something different happens during the day to day – I’m a bit tireder, have a few more things that I ought to be doing instead, and I don’t have the sense that I ought to be getting my money’s-worth.

Astanga yoga can be particularly tricky as it’s a repeated sequence of moves. On a good day, that familiarity brings ease and the body just flows through the sequence, becoming a moving meditation. For me that is rare. More common is that there are moves coming up I know I can’t do or take a lot of effort, both mental and physical. I get through all the “easy” moves knowing that some of my challenges are on their way and there is a good chance I’ll be no better at them than when I started fifteen years ago. That’s frustrating and it’s easy to slip into a “can’t do it, won’t bother” frame of mind. For instance, standing on one leg holding the toes of the other, leg first in front, then out to the side, followed by the joy (?) of letting go and trying to keep the leg both straight and off the floor without my head exploding because of course I am keeping my breath calm and regular ;-). At that point I have a choice to make: I can be gentle on myself and take a modified posture, perhaps resting one hand on the wall, or I can be tough and draw on some reserves of strength, focusing on using my whole body and thinking of my breathing more than my protesting muscles. The option I take really depends on whether I know I am being lazy and just need a kick, or I’m actually too tired, thirsty, hungry or hot and need a bit of kindness.

What really helps me if yoga is becoming a bit monotonous is to shake it up by trying a different class or teacher to keep me on my toes – that’s one of the reasons for Louth Yoga Studio so that we can all try a variety of classes. The other way I have is to try some of the sillier moves, those that involve rocking about and feeling like a child, or balancing on one leg and not fearing toppling over. A little bit of laughter goes a long way.

Yoga is about balance and listening to yourself. It’s about reaching for improvement whilst accepting where we are.

Follow us on www.facebook.com/louthyoga to see how we can help you defeat boredom.

 

When the sofa calls harder than the yoga mat

I’ve been doing yoga for around fifteen years.

By some measures (those competitive comparisons we know we shouldn’t make, but just can’t help), I’m pretty good.

Room to improve, but pretty good.

I love doing yoga so much, I was inspired to open Louth Yoga Studio all because I want a dedicated place where I can go and practice any day of the week regardless of what my work schedule throws at me.

That all makes me sound fairly dedicated, but the truth is that dead lazy is a better description. Do I “go to the mat” every day? No. Do I practice at home when classes are cancelled? Not when the sofa has my name on it. Do I practice in hotel rooms when away with work? Sometimes, but not very hard.

Although I know how good I feel by the end of a session, I need a class to give me the discipline to practise properly, whether that’s as student or instructor. Other people bring out my better self.

I know I’m not the only one. Sometimes all it takes is somebody else expecting you to turn up that gives your motivation that little push you need to get going and do something you know you will enjoy and benefit from. That’s why the studio is there, and from January 2018 it will be welcoming all other lazy yogis with open arms*.

Follow us on www.facebook.com/louthyoga to see what classes we are putting on.

*non-lazy yogis also welcome, from beginners to experts.