The speed at which yoga has reduced my back pain continues to astonish me. Running and strength training have given me the capabilities of a reasonably fast wind-up toy, but left me as stiff as old chewing gum. I’m genuinely hopeful that yoga will enable me to develop a normal range of movement. After ten days of practice, my husband remarked on the improvement in my posture. And I see emerging definition in my arms.
‘Our gym should be putting out online yoga classes,’ I told him. ‘They are,’ he said.
Wallowing for weeks in my pit of gloom, I hadn’t checked. Theirs are on Instagram – even better than Zoom as no one can see me except for my cat, who taunts me by performing luxurious silken stretches on my new pink yoga mat to show the amateur how it’s done.
Another advantage of Instagram yoga is that you can save the recording – so should I decide to do a class, I can start it that same minute. There’s no time to book it, dread it, cancel it, or miserably sidle into the studio and invoke the rage of the mindful meditation mafia because I’ve put my mat in their spot.
Shamelessly, I’ve become a yoga bore. ‘It’s such hard work! But I feel so peaceful afterwards!’ My yogi associates are quietly smug as I preach to the choir. My running and weight-lifting friends consider it treason – which is entirely just. I protested too much. I was proud of not doing yoga – I preferred my status as an unexceptional runner who could do the odd press-up.
Now I realise how much of the basic foundation work I was neglecting – the stretching, twisting, lengthening, toughening – all of it so critical to holistic health. I realise that if I ever want to run 5K again without my vertebrae crumbling like a stomped on Crunchie Bar, yoga is key.
So for my 51st birthday I requested a new yoga mat, and yoga gear. I’ve signed up for Zoom yoga classes live from Sri Lanka. I’ve found some free yoga sessions on the Lululemon website (yes) and some are even doable. Others are Cirque du Soleil level stuff (No, I cannot slowly lift myself into a crouching handstand and hover upside down in the air.) A friend in LA suggested I join her Zoom yoga class – why not? There’s so much choice.
I’m grateful (if not #blessed). Yoga hasn’t just given me stillness, it is enabling me to progress. It’s freed me from my dispiriting and agonising back pain, it’s re-booted my mental and physical health, and it’s allowed me to feel I’m accomplishing something. It’s been a gift.
Three online yoga classes to try
Lululemon’s website features an online ‘studio’ – with a fabulous range of yoga practises.
Yoga flow with Hayley Mia is bracing and tough: we worked the chest, shoulders, thoracic spine and arms. Surf-focused yoga with Rachel focused more on the core. Both at soulandsurf.com.
Sweaty Betty’s website also has a selection of yoga classes.