As you may have known, on Wednesday I went on a little adventure to my first Yoga class of 2016. In fact, I can not lie to you all, it was probably my first proper Yoga class in about 3 years! Yes I’ve rolled my mat out and done a few downward dogs in my lounge, or followed a DVD or a Youtube Video (Yoga with Adriene usually!) however, I have not been in a class environment where a teacher is watching over me, correcting my bad habits or incorrect alignments, plus I guess I don’t push myself as much, and 20 minutes is usually all I commit to when alone. Being in a class however is a completely different ball game – a ball game that I have utterly missed out on over these years and now feel quite regretful that I have had such a break.
Let’s start with Wednesday evening. My class was an hour class in a lovely little hall nearby my home – easy to get to, not too expensive, extremely accessible. My teacher Nikki was, as well as being absolutely lovely and quite adorable, 32 weeks pregnant and blossoming beautifully. Now although I am over the moon for her, I’m also quite saddened that I only have at most 5 more weeks worth of her classes (as you may gather, I thoroughly enjoyed her class!). The class started with 10 minutes of lights off, music on lightly, easing us in with relaxation and easy movements to loosen up the body and relax the mind (something I really do benefit from), with sun salutations, hip openers, chest openers and even more relaxation to follow. It literally was a dream class for me. You’re probably wondering why this was ‘hard for me to write’ hey? The class was amazing! Nikki was brilliant! I love it and will be going back! What is not to love?! My mind. Yes, that’s right, my mind is not whats to love!
So rewinding things back a little, I used to do Ashtanga Yoga back in 2009-2012 as well as being a dancer and an all round fitness and health lover. I had grown up dancing, so flexibility, as well as a relatively small waist, all came quite naturally (well, at least seemingly so), therefore I took it all for granted and had quite high expectations of myself. I’d turn up to a Yoga class having never been before and be able to squeeze myself into crazy ‘positions’ – which I now know we do not refer to as ‘positions’, but ‘asanas’ rather – as well as skip to the ‘head of the class’ – even though I now realise this is not something to aim for at Yoga, as it’s non-competitive (try telling this to a very competitive mind though!). Basically, what I am trying to say is, back then, it was easy. I didn’t have to try too hard to be good at it. Nor did I really think too much about what I was doing, I just did it. Now, it’s a completely different story.
As I walked into the class on Wednesday, I kind of expected my body to just fold nicely over itself, back into the poses I once held with grace and strength. I expected to feel the same as I once did and be the same as my 20 year old self (see photo above..!). Five years later and no regular yoga or stretch classes and apparently your body ages 100 years! At least this is how I felt. As I closed my eyes and tried to relax, unwind and gain the mental benefits from Yoga which are hugely beneficial for your health and wellbeing, all I could think about was how much I had let myself go. I could’ve cried during the last ten minutes of the class. Nikki switched the lights off for us to enjoy the Savasana (corpse pose) at the end of the class and I must’ve used my every bit of energy to not burst out crying during these last few minutes!
It’s funny really as I know that Yoga isn’t meant for a competitive manner, nor is it meant to make you feel inadequate or weak, but somehow my first class back, although the class was incredible, brought up quite a few negative thoughts for me, making me feel quite bad about myself. It wasn’t that I felt out of control but rather made me think that I haven’t necessarily put my priorities right over the past few years in order to keep my body in tip top condition. In order for me to feel strong, flexible, mentally rejuvenated and well, I must live a lifestyle that will cater to these desires, or else it will all just be lost and I will have ruined my body. I will wake up in a few more years and my twenties will be gone and I won’t have progressed physically or looked after my body at all during this decade. Sad thought hey?
So, as hard as I will find it, due to my mind being quite the devil sometimes, I also know that I must face my demons and push through the hard part in order to be a healthier and happier version of myself. Once I have been a few times and my body loosens up a little more and I’m able to let go of my negative thoughts and immerse myself into my practise rather than thinking about my tummy being the biggest it’s ever been or that my leg doesn’t go over my head anymore, I know I will absolutely love it.
Fitness and yoga classes are never easy in the beginning (which I’m sure most would agree on), as we don’t only face the problems of not being able to do something and therefore feeling ‘stupid’ or ‘incapable’, but also the mental problem that we compare ourselves to all the other people in the class as well as to our former selves, which is never healthy. But we must push past this demoralising stage and focus on the positive fact that we are doing something towards a healthier and happier life.
I don’t want to be competitive or to belittle to myself, I want to go to Yoga to breathe, to feel, to let go and to stretch my body that carries around all my aches, pains and tensions every day. This is what I am aiming for. And I will, one day, get to that point, but it will be a long old trot, and it is not going to be easy, but it will be worth it. That I can pinky promise to myself. So let’s bring on the next 5 weeks of Wednesday night practise – may I learn to let go and love my body again through the joy that is Yoga (obviously not in 5 weeks alone!).
Thank you so much for reading this you lovely lot, I hope I can inspire some of you to face up to some of your demons to become happier and healthier also.