As regular readers will know, I seem to have discovered my inner yogi of late.
In fact, while I’ve been getting over my post-race cold and chest infection (I’m currently coughing like a 40-a-day smoker and even I have to concede that running just isn’t a good idea), yoga has been my saviour.
I discovered the Yogarise centre in Peckham Rye through my friend LP. She introduced me to Rocket Yoga, a dynamic class which offers the requisite ‘stretch and zen’, alongside a sweaty and heart-rate raising fast-flowing practice.
I was hooked immediately and it’s testimony to how much I love the class that I don’t even begrudge the 40 minute train ride to get there.
I attend classes on Fridays and Saturdays, with the Friday evening class involving just over an hour of dynamic practice followed by about 20 minutes of a more relaxed practice. It’s the perfect way to unwind after a hectic week and no matter how I feel when I arrive I feel totally re-set afterwards.
There is a delicious Indian restaurant called Ganapati not far from the centre. It has a vegan menu, and if my friend Katie and I are feeling particularly deserving after our practice we have been known to go there for supper or to get a take out!
The Saturday morning class is more dynamic throughout and a great way to get going on the weekend. It doesn’t start until 11am so it doesn’t necessarily preclude a Friday evening out, and it can certainly shift a hangover if you’ve not been the best yogi!
The teacher is amazing and has the most incredibly sculpted arms – definitely motivation to master those chaturangas. She always tells us that no effort, no matter how small, is ever wasted, which helps on those days that I feel like my muscles have been completely knotted together into an un-malleable mesh by a long run.
She also uses the phrase ‘if it’s in your practice’, which reminds me that I don’t need to master every move immediately and helps me to fight my competitive edge.
Once I started Rocket I decided I ought to get practicing my downward dog and planks at home and decided to invest in a mat. It was only £25 and it made such a difference to being able to practice poses properly.
I also discovered Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. The classes range in length from 15 minutes to an hour and in objective from fat burning to detox and digestion and from relaxing, healing and unwinding to energising for the day ahead. I usually start my day with a 15-25 minute class plus a bit of an ab workout and try to fit a second in in the evening if I have chance.
Just getting up that bit earlier each day means I can fit in a really invigorating and heart-warming practice before work and it puts me in a better head space for the rest of the day. I also find that if I start my day with exercise I’m more inclined to be healthier throughout the rest of the day.
Adriene’s mantra is ‘find what feels good‘ and it’s a great thing to consider when breathing into a tricky twist or really stretching out your hips in a runner’s lunge or pigeon pose. She often describes positions as ‘yummy’ which has really changed the way I perceive some of those deeper stretches!
I find that although I’m still learning the basics and just starting out, yoga has resulted in my body feeling more balance and less knotted and gnarly than when I’m only running. My legs and bottom feel taught and my arms are becoming more sculpted.
Even if you’re not yet convinced by the benefits of yoga or think it’s not for you, it’s really worth just giving it a shot and remembering that yoga is a personal practice, so it’s about making the moves work for you, taking variations as required and not beating yourself up if you can’t hold a pose.
This was an important lesson for me – it’s not about forcing your body into one contortion or other, but it’s about listening to and working with your body, engaging in a stronger practice some days, or a more relaxed practice on others.