I’ve always been a little bit flexible.
I (briefly) did gymnastics as a child, and so even as an adult, some stretches and bends came relatively easy to me. Some of them a little too easy, a little too flexibly. I can still do the splits, and my shoulders have always been overly flexible too – which has always made me a little wary of some lifts. It would only take a slight wobble with a bar above my head for things to go very wrong very fast.
Lifting has curbed some of that. My hips are still very limber, and my shoulders, but my core has tightened a lot, and currently my hamstrings are so tight that I need to stretch them almost constantly to loosen the pull into my glutes and lower back.
So I’ve been thinking about getting back into yoga. When I was doing all that distance running, a yoga session once a week was part of my routine. A wind down after a week of pounding the pavement. I mean, it was still challenge, but one that allowed me to feel my body, what was loose, what was tight. Take stock. Take some time to get to know it, as well as the flow of the sessions. I’ll admit, I’m the last person to worry about chakras, and breathing (ask me to concentrate on my breathing and I’m pretty much guaranteed to get it wrong and hyperventilate), but for me, taking time to reconnect with my body, as well as get a good stretch in, is important. And it’s been a little too long since I did.
So on Monday, I went to Life Centre North on the corner of the Great Northern. For me it’s ideal. It’s virtually next door to my gym and, in a previous incarnation I had PT sessions here, so I know the space well. Although it looks very different without the squat racks and benches.
We arrived a little early, so we could get a look around. The hot yoga space is the biggest, but whilst the idea is tempting, it’s not for me. My flexibility means that it would be too easy to do too much in a warm space, even though I can see the appeal. The feeling of completing a session must be similar to a long sweaty run. It might not be fast, or even particularly energetic or bouncy, but the feeling of having pushed yourself, mentally and physically can be rather addictive. As an ex marathon runner, I know that feeling of innate satisfaction well.
Upstairs is the quietest and smallest space. As it’s so quiet, it’s used primarily for meditation and workshops – so if you fancy one of the beginners workshop sessions, this is where it will be.
For us though, it was the middle room, both in size and location. We were here for Vinyasa Flow – my favourite style of class. The combination of poses is perfect for stretching out my hamstrings and quads, which is why I loved it for running, and the Upward Facing Dog works my core and stretches out my back and shoulders.
But it’s not all Sun Salutations and Warrior poses, there’s always another variable element and for my first class, I was in luck. We did a lot of back bend work – something I’ve also still got a lot of flexibility with. My quads are still too tight for Bow pose yet (I may need to use a belt for a bit to get that back, but Camel and Fish pose (with a block) came easily.
It is easy? No. Lifting has left me a lot more restricted in movement than I used to be. Getting some of that back will take work. It’s definitely harder if you are someone who still (yes, at the age of 40) still gets flustered when people talk about left hands and right hands. I still can’t tell the two apart.
In the meantime, I definitely need a new mat. Not only is mine falling apart, but it’s slippy as hell when I get sweaty. Any recommendations are very welcome.
The most important question is will I go back? Yes, I think I will. It’s time to get my flex on.
With thanks to Georgina and The Life Centre for the tour and the taster session. Will be booking back on very shortly!