Yoga. For years I’ve wondered what all the fuss was about and deliberately avoided finding out. On the one occasion I did attend a class, over a decade ago, the experience was so difficult and painful that I gave up on the idea of yoga altogether. Instead I resigned myself to the fact that my body was stiff and inflexible and therefore probably not suited to yoga at all.
Friends who do yoga swear by it. They’ve been doing it for years, are fantastically flexible, travel miles to particular yoga classes, and practise their postures before breakfast. They keep telling me to try it and I kept on putting it off as yet another thing to do that will be good for me when I get round to doing it some day.
Aches and Pains
But frequent trips to the osteopath recently for treatment of a back spasm from gardening meant that ‘some day’ has come sooner than expected. I realised that if I didn’t do something about this now, things would only get worse. I don’t want to be one of those old people who shuffle along in pain from their arthritic joints and are unable to enjoy life to the full, but so far all the signs are pointing that way.
I had to admit to myself that I was a woman of a certain age, obviously peri-menopausal and my body demanded a lot more respect from me. Any form of ‘abuse’ or neglect and I’m instantly ‘rewarded’ with headaches, muscle spasms, joint aches and pains.
My osteopath kept on telling me how I would benefit from yoga, and eventually, keen to please her and do something proactive for my back, I gave in. I signed up for a Hatha yoga class at my gym.
Pilates for Core Strength
Not only that – I took it one step further and signed up for a weekly Pilates class at the same time. In for a penny, in for a pound.
The Pilates class I can handle, just about. I did Pilates regularly about fifteen years ago (oh how time flies!) so I remembered the basic principles and some of the exercises.
Pilates is perfect for someone like me as it’s designed to strengthen core and lower back muscles, improve posture and prevent injury. It also stretches and tones the muscles, improving flexibility.
The Painful Truth about Yoga
But yoga is a different story. Yoga is painful. Yoga is difficult. Holding a yoga position in absolute stillness can see me trembling, sweating and breathing rapidly within seconds. It’s not a pretty picture but I hope that means it’s good for me. Some of the positions involve contorting my body and putting arms and legs where they’ve never been placed before. It doesn’t feel natural. It hurts!
The Benefits of Yoga
But the amazing thing is how I feel after the class. My body feels taller, looser, stretched, as if there’s air in my joints where before there was stiffness. And I feel calm yet energised at the same time.
Other people in the class have urged me to persevere. They say it’ll get easier, and I’ll become more flexible. After years of arthritis and knee and shoulder surgery, more flexibility will be most welcome. Who knows, I may even become a yoga devotee and evangelist.
Flexible Body, Flexible Mind?
I’m also curious as to whether having a more flexible body will make me more flexible in mind. Yoga is meant to connect mind, body and spirit and works the entire body. My partner often accuses me of stubborness or being like a dog with a bone – refusing to let go even if a situation is obviously hopeless.
So, I will persevere. After all, I’m just beginning to see what all the fuss is about yoga.
What’s your experience of yoga? Let me know by leaving a comment in the box below.