At the start of June, I set myself a challenge to commit to a few yoga sessions a week with the aim for some kind of improvement in my achy, stiff body. And the reason for the challenge was just that, to see if I could feel less stiff and more flexi. I’ll be honest, I didn’t hold out much hope as I’ve come to accept this is my body and I’m not the nimble or gentle type. I feel like a brick wall; heavy, strong and pretty damn sturdy. I know I’m not particularly heavy but that’s how I feel.
So, how did it go…
Well, I had to start with learning a few routines as I’ve been to a couple of yoga classes in the past but not enough to go at it alone. So, it began with Youtube; a quick search later and someone called Adriene popped up! She was what seemed to be your typical yoga pro, so I was hesitant that she’d be some kinda yoga ninja and kill me off, but I gave it a go anyway. And very glad I did as Adriene’s sessions tailor to different abilities and she has tonnes of videos to choose from! A lot of the time I did the shorter videos but I also did a 50-minute session which was fab. However, on one occasion I chose the deep stretch video and yeah, it was tough! I may have swore and called poor Adriene ‘crazy’ more than once during that session. But no seriously, it was such a good way to gain more confidence with routines and from there I did quite a few sessions on my own. I watched a few videos on my phone which was difficult to follow while trying to twist and turn but later I realised Youtube worked on my TV (crap with technology) so I was able to follow along better.
You may rather attend a class to gain more confidence – I am amazed how many there are around now! They are often advertised online, Facebook, local community centres, gyms or ask friends or colleagues if they know of any.
When first starting out I know it can be quite disheartening when you can’t do the moves like the instructor or the other bloody show offs in the class (only kidding, I’m just jealous). But Rome wasn’t built in a day! These things take time but definitely take some photos at the beginning of your journey as I checked mine out half way through and felt more motivated by the progress I had made. I didn’t realise there was any progress until I compared the photos so it was a pleasant surprise. Or take a video of your routine…it’s there for a laugh if nothing else!
Yoga can be frustrating
I find the fact I cannot touch my toes so frustrating so that’s an area I have been trying to work on as well as the downward dog as that’s such a popular yoga pose. At first I fully believed I was rubbish at these poses due to the tightness in my hamstrings! I have no idea why I made this assumption but thankfully after discussing it with my brother who’s in the know, I realised it was about so much more than just my hamstrings. To think I could have totally ignored the role of the other muscles! I feel kinda stupid that I was so totally unaware of the numerous muscles involved in something like a downward dog but perhaps I’m not alone? (Hoping). It really highlights the benefits of researching exercise and understanding our body to allow us to tailor sessions and focus on the right areas. What are your weaknesses?
When is the best time for yoga?
I found the best time for me was in the morning (it was hard to roll my arse out of bed mind) – I firstly lay on my yoga mat and allowed myself to come around and then warmed up with some bicycle kicks, leg extensions, arm rotations and a few general stretches before going into my routine. My routine included a plank into downward dog, plank, lowering myself to the ground, cobra and then into a child pose. I enjoyed this movement – when you find a routine that flows and works for you it can be really relaxing!
Sometimes morning workouts didn’t happen due to a late night or whatever the reason (excuse) may be so I did a session in the evening as my food cooked or while my boyfriend told me about his day (and laughed at my persistence with yoga). I also did a session with my sister in law which was a good way to commit to a longer session that perhaps I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I strongly believe that exercising with someone is brilliant for commitment!
Excuses for not always sticking to it
The reasons/excuses for not doing yoga some days crept in; reasons included a hangover, tiredness, busyness and for a few days an injury. So, these things do happen and who knows, if it wasn’t for the commitment of the challenge maybe I would have given up (and I put it on Instagram so I had to follow through). I’m really pleased I stuck with it though because I’m happy with the progress and it shows that even with off days we can still develop. I was far from crazy strict and I wouldn’t ever want to take that approach because I love sleep, food, socialising and having fun far too much to restrict myself. We can have it all….in moderation.
Reflect upon achievement
To sum the challenge up I’d say my progress is adequate for what I’ve put in but what I’ve learned has been huge. I’ve started a routine I can realistically continue and my understanding and confidence has really grown….in a month! I also didn’t mention the short meditation I added onto the end of my yoga sessions which allowed my mind to relax in preparation or following a gruelling day. This can all be done in a 20-50 minute session and doesn’t have to be done every day! It goes without saying the more often we do it the more benefits we’ll see but on a realistic note, it doesn’t have to take up a lot of time.
What challenge would you like to start? Get cracking and good luck!
“We don’t grow when things are easy. We grow when we face challenges!”
Read more about exercise – ‘Exercise ideas for everyone’