Yoga

Does this sound familiar? You run regularly, then some part of you starts hurting, so you stop running for a while. Each time it’s hard to get back into the habit, and to recover your fitness, then you get hurt again. I was fed up of the cycle. I needed more resilience in my body.

Kate has long been into yoga but has had trouble fitting a regular class into her routine, so in an effort to help her I’d downloaded Yoga Studio onto the Apple TV. She’d not used it much (it’s a little strange doing yoga on your own in the evening on the only TV in the house, whilst being ogled by your husband), but I did notice it had a section called “Yoga for runners”. I decided to start trying that after each run. The app has a ten-minute “Intermediate Stretches” routine.

Ten minutes is nothing – after most runs by the time you’ve got a drink, done some half-hearted stretches (you know the ones, where you pull your foot up against your bum cheek for ten seconds and imagine it’s doing something) and got your breath back, that’s about ten minutes anyway. So why not try something specially designed to help?

At first it’s difficult to do some of the poses but over time, you really develop an awareness of your body – you can feel the parts the instructor is talking about, and you can feel that the pose is affecting that specific part. And by the time I get to the end of the post-run routine, I’ve got my breath back and I’ve done two workouts in a row!

Post-run yoga extended to doing a session in the evening a few nights a week with Kate. The app offers a range of sessions of varying focus, ability levels and duration so we have managed quite a variety – but we haven’t dared attempt any of the “Advanced” sessions yet. The thumbnails alone are enough to put you off.

We each have our bugbear poses – mine is anything where I have to put my arm up against the side of my head, like “extended side angle” (I can do this as easily as you’d expect in normal life, but during yoga I can’t do it, I have no idea why), Kate’s is “half moon”, which she simply can’t get balanced in.

We have a healthy disdain for “yoga lady”, the elastic-limbed woman in the app’s videos. She gets to use freeze frame to stay perfectly still whilst tied up in impossibly graceful knots, as we wobble and swear at her. Cow.

We are both enjoying it quite a lot, and have both reaped the benefits – and I can say with confidence that it’s been yoga that makes the difference, because there’s been a few periods where we’ve fallen out of the routine – we’ve been busy in the evenings, or I’ve been busy at work and convinced myself that I don’t have 10 minutes to spare (ridiculous, right?) after a run. After a couple of weeks of not yoging (we call it yoging, it’s definitely a real word) then aches and pains start to creep back in, my body starts to sag and collapse, I don’t sleep as well – it really does make a huge difference. My running injury bugbear is the hamstring on my left leg, and a few weeks ago I started to notice it again – after a gap in the yoga routine. I’ve got back on the wagon and hey presto, it’s cleared up again.

I’ve never tried a different app, and I think it’s a subscription now (I paid to unlock it before it went subscription-only) but I’d consider it worth the cost – it’s peanuts compared to going to a yoga class, and works super well, especially on the Apple TV. I really enjoy the longer sessions, and sometimes it’s difficult to pick myself up off the floor to “open my eyes and take this lovely after-yoga feeling into the rest of my day” – I’m so close to falling asleep. It’s the most relaxing form of exercise I’ve ever tried, but it still counts as exercise.

If you’ve ever suffered from aches and pains due to exercise or posture or just life in general, I would highly recommend giving yoga a try. You can do it in your living room, you can do it any time of day (probably not immediately after eating, and from experience probably not after too much alcohol), the only equipment you need is the floor, and you can even do it while the kids laugh at you and try to join in. You won’t lose weight, but as I’m fond of saying about 7-minute workouts, it will hold your fat in a more attractive arrangement.

The only thing we struggle with is the cat – he thinks it’s great fun to rub his head on us during a tricky balance, or to attack a stretched-out limb. When he’s not getting in the way, he lies on his back and rolls around sometimes, like he’s trying to copy. I don’t know why he feels the need to do yoga, the animal can clean his own bottom with his tongue. Even yoga lady can’t do that.

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