A series of reflections from a complete yoga novice
Getting grounded on earth
Being a reasonably hardened cyclist with some hefty long-distance rides under my belt I felt reasonably confident that I’d find yoga pretty easy.
After flicking through a number of videos on YouTube I settled on one called “Yoga for cyclists” by a chirpy American lady called Adriene.
To my surprise, I discovered that I was as stiff as a board. One of the basic opening moves involved sitting cross-legged on the ground (or earth as Adrienne insisted on referring to general-purpose flooring). When I was five, I remember sitting cross-legged a lot. It was something all of the children in the class had to do while listening to the teacher read a story. I’m pretty certain that, being a skinny waif-like child, even at that tender age I found this form of sitting deeply discomforting. How could you even begin to feel calm and breath deeply when your butt felt benumbed and your knees, some 50-years later, couldn’t actually cross-over? Getting out of this first position was tough enough as I struggled to unwrap my legs and fall sideways towards the earth (which I will hitherto refer to as “carpet”).
But it turned out that the knees were in for a tough time. They were pressed against the carpet while I adopted some sort of dog pose. They were ground into the carpet as I tried to make a child pose. A child-pose! I might have been two or three when I last did that movement. My innards were being compressed between my knees and my ribs and I wasn’t sure if I even had space to breathe in the little space that remained. And yet breathe I must. “Breath through your nose”, intoned the cheery Adrienne. My nose? I hadn’t breathed through my nose properly for several years – at least not enough to draw in enough air to expand my lungs. And besides, my nostrils were totally blocked and I couldn’t breathe through them even if I’d wanted to.
I should mention at this point that I’ve had major sinus problems for years and suffer from perennial rhinitis for which I take allergy tablets daily and occasionally nose drops.
The breathing bit was clearly going to have to wait for another day – just trying to get my limbs, joints and muscles to make basic yoga shapes was more than enough to focus on without having to worry about breathing.
Eventually the session came to an end and Adriene whispered rather quickly “Have a nice day”, which was very American I thought, because American’s always wish you that even if they don’t really mean it. However, in Adrienne’s case I sensed something very sincere and genuine, and I quietly whispered “Have a nice day” back, before staggering up off the earth to flop on the sofa and switch on some TV.
Find out more about Yoga with Adriene
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