So half way into the year I am finally ticking off one of my new years resolutions – TRY YOGA CLASSES. In an attempt to soothe my soul and de-clutter my mind, I decided that yoga, in all its celebrity glory, should be the way forward to a whole new me.
For years I was a competitive swimmer and quite honestly nothing calms me down and stretches my muscles as much as a leisurely swim (preferably in the Mediterranean Sea). However, in this era of long working hours and never having enough time to do ANYTHING, I keep finding excuses to avoid going down to my local pool: I don’t want to get wet, the weather/water’s too cold, I’ve just washed my hair, there’s too much chlorine in the pool, other swimmers get in my way, there’s always some dodgy looking old man in the hot-tub.
I’m not a gym person, all that running and weight lifting leaves me feeling aggressive, so yoga seems like a much simpler option to help me de-stress and I don’t have to don an uncomfortable swimming costume.
The health benefits of yoga seem to far outweigh many other workouts and include: greater flexibility, muscle strengthening, improvement in balance and toning, anxiety reduction, anti-aging and an overall improvement in general mental well-being. One downside to yoga classes is that they are really quite expensive. My first class set me back £14 although I was then offered an introductory price of £25 for unlimited classes over 10 consecutive days.
After researching several health companies nearby I settled on one that offered a variety of different yoga and pilates classes taught by different teachers. A bad teacher can put you off straight away so I felt that it was important to try somewhere where I could reap the benefits of different styles of teaching.
My first class was Iyengar Yoga which explores the living architecture of the body, through precise physical alignment, building inner strength and stamina, flexibility and balance, concentration and meditation.
Lots of stretching and balancing was involved as well as plenty of eye-closing. I’m not big on eye-closing unless I am totally relaxed – and the fact that the yoga instructor’s mat was perilously close to a lit candle did not fill me with ease. The other thing that put me off slightly was the lack of tranquil music. The hall itself was not completely silent, and I found the sounds of yelling and sirens from outside highly disturbing.
Nevertheless the yoga workout itself was good and although the movements were long and slow, I definitely worked up a sweat and by the end of the class felt quite calm and relaxed. I didn’t even feel hungry afterwards and opted out of the souvlakia with potatoes, humus and Greek salad for dinner and instead had a few king prawns.
The next morning I didn’t feel sore at all and was starting to think that perhaps the class wasn’t “all that” when suddenly by mid afternoon EVERYTHING began to ache. I saw this as a good sign and have decided to persevere and try a few of the other classes on offer.
Upon telling my father that I had tried yoga, he responded helpfully with the fact that Greeks have been practising yoga for years – stretching to reach the olives in the trees, balancing and dancing with glasses on their heads and meditating at church.
It seems that the Greeks did indeed invent everything.