Ok I admit it. The image I once had of yoga was a bunch of pure, clean living hippies chanting ‘om’ and pretending to be trees. The first class I ever tried did nothing to dispel this myth as the teacher asked the class to actually pretend we were trees. I’m not kidding!
But that was one class and one strange form of yoga that wasn’t for me – there are hundreds of types of yoga, teachers and classes out there to convert even the hardiest of yoga cynics.
I dabbled with a couple of other classes after that but it took a good friend to really dispel that tree image by introducing me to Stretch and Jen at Oceanflow. Other than surfing, I hadn’t found anything that allowed me to completely switch off and relax…until after doing one of their vinyasa classes. I drove 200 miles to Wolverhampton immediately afterwards and felt blissed out all the way back!
So when we moved to Cornwall, I was keen to start regular classes, not just for the emotional benefits but also physically for surfing and everyday life; increased flexibility, reducing the risk of injuries and to help with everyday aches and pains. Oceanflow’s 6 week beginners course sounded like an ideal place to start.
Monday night was week one. First day back at work after the Christmas break and I didn’t want to leave the house but I came home feeling motivated and wanting to do yoga at every opportunity. Stretch is an amazing guy – welcoming, patient and incredibly soothing. He spoke to each of us about any current injuries and I don’t think anyone in the studio was exempt – some more severe than others.
Let’s get physical
Following a brief history about yoga, an outline of the 8 limbs of yoga (including the all important ‘pranayama’, or breathing’) it was time to get physical and go through each of the poses that make up the moon salutations – ideal to do at night. What I quickly learned was how much harder they are to do – a few seconds can feel like an eternity. I didn’t particularly think of yoga as being really physically strenuous – another myth dispelled!
Stretch told us that our individual yoga journeys would be that of self-discovery, not just physically but emotionally as well. During that first class, I learnt how unflexible my hips are. They’re extremely tight so it’s no wonder that I can’t pop-up or even sit on my surfboard….I had no idea just how much flexibility plays a part.
The bit that really struck a chord with me was when Stretch talked about the effects of stress on the body. It’s something I should know having suffered from IBS, anxiety and neck tension but I continue to worry and think the worst. Despite moving to Cornwall I’ve had moments of worry and stress – will it work out? What happens if I lose my job? Will we end up homeless…
The power of positive thinking
But when Stretch spoke about the importance of being positive, doing everything we can to stay in that mindset and how positive thinking can manifest positive outcomes, it made me determined to look at things differently. I don’t want my yoga journey to start negatively so I’m actively turning negative thoughts into positive ones.
Here’s a few other things I learned during the first session:
- It’s not a competition and there’s no place for ego’s in the yoga studio. Focus on yourself and your journey
- Yoga is more of a philosophy; a way of living
- It’s not about throwing shapes on a mat
- Even if you are carrying injuries you can still do yoga and there are many safe variations of poses
- You are never too old/young/inflexible to start yoga.
I’m hooked already and I can’t wait for week two!