I went to my first ever yoga session today. I must admit that I was slightly nervous and didn’t really know what to expect but the nerves were a complete waste of energy. I came out feeling calm, relaxed and positive.
I will tell you a little about myself that many may already be aware of. I can be a bit of a stress-head although it’s not always apparent to the outside world. I’m just not very good at relaxing unless I am in a gorgeous spa resort. It somehow gives you permission to relax if you are away from home and the household chores, wearing a fluffy white robe. When I go for a massage, I am always being told to “just relax”, as my shoulders are normally tucked tight up into my neck. I am aware I need to chill sometimes but it is quite difficult to unlearn certain behaviour and let go.
I work in PR and have recently started working on the Manuka account. Manuka produce a range of gorgeous, yoga, Pilates and fitness clothes that are innovative and eco-friendly. You can buy the products online and in several stores but they also have a beautiful boutique and fitness studio on the New Kings Road. I was lucky enough to be invited along take part in a class and I jumped at the opportunity. I have considered trying yoga previously and have several books at home but I’ve never quite plucked up the courage to go.
The Manuka studio is quite different to a regular fitness studio in most gyms. It is absolutely beautiful with attention to detail throughout providing a peaceful, tranquil atmosphere. Each class only has about five people per instructor which is perfect for a beginner like me. In fact, in my class today it was just myself and one other student which allowed the instructor Natasha to help me throughout to ensure I was carrying out each of the poses correctly.
As soon as I stepped into the peaceful studio, I instantly felt calmer. The first part of the class was focused on concentrating on our breathing. I don’t think I have ever paid quite so much attention to how I breathe but it was a relaxing and calming experience. I have a tendency to rush through life, ticking off multiple things on my to do list, but it forced me to slow down and focus on just one thing. Although my mind did wander a few times, as I am a multi-tasker by nature and I do find it a little tricky to concentrate on just one thing.
We progressed to a number of different poses, constantly being reminded to focus on our breathing . There are a number of key poses I remember such as the downward facing dog, the cobra and the plank. There was one particular pose that I can’t remember the name of but that I found to be really beneficial for my tight hips, after three weeks of running. Natasha mentioned that the pose was great to release tightness in the psoas and although it may feel uncomfortable at first, it would be helpful to persevere to show you that you can achieve things that are at first uncomfortable. This really struck a chord with me and is exactly how I feel about a lot of things in life, including my running.
It was very different to any other exercise class that I have been to and although it wasn’t high impact and energetic, I certainly felt like I’d worked hard in a different way and I was even glowing. (Yeah, I do actually mean sweating but it it’s not very feminine!) I found the experience to be positive, uplifting and my body was loving me for it. It was like an extended calming, stretching session with positive reminders along the way. At one stage we were encouraged to inhale and think of bright colours, then exhale whilst thinking of the colour grey. It was like letting go of negative thoughts. It was only my first yoga class but I really think I will benefit from regular attendance as I felt like a new woman when I left. Thank you to Natasha for a fantastic introduction to yoga.
As well as the yoga class which was 1hour 15 minutes, I also did some other exercise today as I felt really energetic, even though I was calm and relaxed. I walked to and from yoga which was a total of just over 10km and I then ran the 3km to the gym, before doing a 550m swim. At the end of week 3 of Janathon, I have completed a total of 119km running,an extra 10km walking, 1050m swimming and my very first yoga class. I ran a total of 40km this week and did my first Run Dem Crew run of the year. It has most definitely been a good week!
I am really pleased that I have managed to run every day apart from one. I can be stubborn but I also know it is important to listen to your body sometimes to avoid injury. Last year I did exercise every day (until I got ill with flu towards the end of January) but I didn’t run every day, so I am thrilled with my progress. I feel great today and I’m looking forward to my long run tomorrow. My ankles are niggling me slightly but I’m just going to take it easy and enjoy it. Janathon week 3, over and out!