A month of yoga: week 2

Monday: Vinyasa flow

Or,

Let’s talk about sweat, baby.

Slightly better at managing my frustration this week, and more handstand practice that went well. But oh my god, the sweating. The room was hot before the class started, and 30 minutes in I had to turn over my top mat as it was already getting slippery (if this is too much tmi, apologies, there’s more Sweat Talk coming).

You would think that after doing regular yoga for almost 9 months now I’d be sweating less, wouldn’t you? Well, you would be wrong. I have to take 2 towels to every class – one to put at the top of the mat so my hands don’t slip, the other to mop myself with at regular intervals. I’ve got wristbands too (I can’t get on with headbands, too uncomfortable). For a long time I really hated feeling sweaty, which is probably why I avoided doing any exercise for most of my life. Now, I’m trying to be very zen about the perspiration situation, but I do still find it enormously distracting – I’ll be trying to hold Warrior 3, focussing on my dristi point, when I’ll notice sweat dripping into my eye. Nice. Or I’ll be attempting to get into Crow but my arms and legs will be too slippery, so I end up in an undignified heap on the floor. AARGH.

*zen face*

Jillian Michaels of 30 Day Shred fame says that sweat is fear leaving your body (the highlight of my brief attempt at that torture was shouting SHUT UP, JILLIAN at that bit). I’ve no idea what it could be but I am clearly bloody TERRIFIED of something… 😉

Wednesday: Jivamukti followed by De-Stress & Yoga Nidra

I didn’t do any home practice on Tuesday – late home, had to catch up with the Great British Sewing Bee final (Heather? Really?), too lazy – and I woke up on Wednesday morning feeling very stiff. It didn’t ease off during the day – every time I got up from sitting down I felt like an old lady. Hmm, could my body be telling me something? Consequently I approached Jivamukti rather tentatively, but soon I could feel the benefit of all that lovely stretching. Don’t worry, I still took it gently – the last thing I want is a knackered back.

Minor epiphany during side plank – using my core to push my hips up made it much stronger (before, I was sagging at the hips and all my weight was going through the supporting arm, which made it really hard to hold).

Thursday: home practice

Spent a few minutes practising Tree, a pose I struggle with in classes. I have got much better at the physicality of the pose (I can rest my foot on my thigh now, instead of my calf) but holding it is challenging, I think because there are lots of things to be distracted by in class – other students wobbling, the flippin’ SWEATING. More forward bend practice and some twists and I was ready for sleep.

So that’s almost week 2 done. I’m doing a workshop on backbends tomorrow, which I’ll include in next week’s update. Namaste!

 

A month of yoga: week 1

I have been doing a lot of yoga lately. My yoga studio (Jiva Health, in Wimbledon – if you are near, GO, they are lovely and brilliant) is running a Spring challenge (details here). This is the perfect thing for me to deepen my commitment to my practice (yeah, I can’t believe I say this kind of stuff now, either 😉 ). I’m aiming to get to at least three classes a week, and to develop my home practice. Here are my thoughts on week one.

Monday: Vinyasa Flow class

This class is quite woo-woo, focussing on a different chakra and the related crystal each week, but don’t let the woo-woo fool you – it is also HARD (for me). I have noticed that I start strongly then fade into a wobbly mess two thirds of the way in. Then I get cross with myself – I like to be good at things and I get frustrated when I think I’m not – and forget to focus on my breath. So I’m trying to let it go a little bit (no, I haven’t seen Frozen yet, but that song is everywhere). It’s…a process. I felt really strong in shoulder stand though, which was a real boost as it’s a pose I have had trouble holding up for more than a few breaths until now.

Tuesday: home practice

I attempted to do 10 minutes before my morning shower, but that was a non-starter – I can’t move until my brain is awake and that doesn’t happen until I’ve had a cup of tea. So instead I did some sun salutations and stretches/twists for 15 minutes before bed, and it was gorgeous.

Wednesday: Jivamukti followed by De-Stress & Yoga Nidra

I love Wednesdays. Jivamukti is fast and flowing (so.much.sweat, and it’s not even hot yoga) so the De-Stress class is the perfect counterfoil. I’ve really noticed over the last week or so that my seated forward bend is improving – after months of not being able to move my hands much past my thighs I can now grab my big toes. Practice, practice and all is coming… (my head is nowhere near my knees yet though).

Yoga nidra is sort of an extended savasana (relaxation), and it’s intensely lovely.

Thursday: home practice

I was staying at a friend’s, so didn’t have a mat but I managed to sneak in 15 minutes before bed. I focussed a little more this time on my seated forward bend as it’s a good pose to work on when you’ve not got much room, or if you’re without a mat.

Friday: home practice

I did not feel like attempting downward dog after a few glasses of wine, so stuck with some gentle seated forward bend practice and a rest in supta baddha konasana.

Saturday: Level 1 Vinyasa flow

Now this class is supposed to be for beginners, so I often make the mistake of thinking it will be, if not easy, at least a tad simpler than the Monday or Wednesday night classes. And lo, I struggle. I’m not sure what was up with me this time but I just could not focus during the balance poses – my legs felt like they belonged to someone else. Again, I got frustrated – it’s like my brain is trying to derail me, telling me “pfft, you can’t do this”, so I really have to concentrate on using my breath to combat that inner critic (I figure if I breathe REALLY LOUD I’ll drown her out). Class ended on a high, though, with praise from teacher for my handstand practice against the wall. So, a lot of stuff still to work on but some progress too. A positive end to week one 🙂

 

*Image by Fine Day Press on Etsy, here

comparisons

Early March 2011 (ye gods, I look like a tubby boy)

Late April 2011

March 15 2012

Oops, I  seem to have decapitated myself. Ignore that! Also, please forgive crappy iPhone pictures (the top two taken in the hall at my parents’, the third taken in a Monsoon fitting room). I won’t try and claim this is a very scientific comparison exercise, but if you lean in closer to your screen – no, closer than that – you may just be able to see that I’m a little bit smaller than I was this time last year. I can even make out the beginnings of a waist!

Looking at these pictures got me reflecting over the last 12 months. This time last year I’d just started to exercise regularly, and although I had plenty of enthusiasm for running, walking and going on our exercise bike (all the free stuff, basically) I had no intention of participating in any group activity. If you’d told me then that a year later I’d be doing yoga and zumba classes every week I’d have laughed you right off your chair. Let other people (not just strangers – colleagues too) see me all sweaty, legs akimbo, spare tyre all a-wobble with a face so red it glows like a nuclear beetroot? And pay actual money for the privilege? NUH UH.

But. I finished the Up & Running 5K course (in June, I think) and carried on exercising three or four times a week. When a colleague suggested getting her yoga teacher to come in and give a class at work I was the first person to sign up. Yes, I worried about being the fattest person in the room (I pretty much always worried about that, if I’m honest), and yes, I spent a stupid amount of time pulling my t-shirt down to make sure my legging-clad bottom was covered at all times, but when I found myself smiling beatifically during Savasana (the lovely lying-down bit at the end of a yoga class) I knew I’d be back the following week. In the six months that I’ve been doing yoga I have learnt that a) no-one is looking at me (well, apart from the teacher and that’s her job), because they’re concentrating on their own practice, and b) skinny people sweat too.

And now I’ve added Zumba to the mix. It’s early days (I’ve been to three classes) but it’s such great fun, as well as being a great workout – it takes about an hour for my face to return to its normal colour afterwards. I remain perturbed at having to jiggle about in front of a mirrored wall, but that’s the only negative so far.

I think that deep down I thought I’d fall off the fitness wagon by Christmas, but here I am a year later still going – and I love it.

I love being able to do a shoulder stand.

I love that a lady told me after my second Zumba class that I’ve got good rhythm.

I love pedalling furiously to terrible music TV on the exercise bike.

I love running through the park to a really great song on my iPhone.

I love feeling the effect of the previous day’s exertions on my body (even if I do moan “OW, my ARMS!” on Twitter).

I’ve even learned to love being sweaty 😉

Now, have any of you done a spin class? I’m thinking of trying that next…..