Archive for September, 2018

yoga

If you’re already into yoga, look away now. If not, this is purely to persuade you boozy, sweary, anti-airy-fairy lot out there that you can have a tiny bit of yoga in your life without becoming vegetarian, teetotal, or just plain smug, boring and openly proud of your farts.

You may have seen a few pompous yoga magazines out there. I was once offered the editor’s role on one yoga title but I turned it down when it became clear that the advertising and editorial content was just too interwoven. In fact, I was expected to sell the ads as well as edit the magazine. Anyway, that’s another story. I went to work on Packaging Magazine instead and became a guru of high density polyethylene.

I pick up a yoga mag from time to time but five minutes later wonder why the hell I just spent £5 or more just to look at improbable pictures of beautiful people doing the splits on white sandy beaches, standing on their bonces by tranquil Thai waterfalls and being caught unawares in an effortless lotus pose meditation, by a very expensive camera that just happened to be there, set up with perfect lighting in a chic city studio that costs an arm and a (very flexible) leg to join.

And not just that, but the typos! Seriously, being a yogi does not excuse you from flabby spelling, ‘flexible’ facts and awkwardly positioned textual layout, not to mention using that awful self-righteous ‘wisenheimer’ language that makes most ‘normal’ people want to vom their guts up.

On top of that, you’re bombarded with adverts for very expensive ‘yoga wear’ that all looks the same to me and anyway, what’s wrong with my cheap black lounging pants and top that double up as pyjamas, saving time and reducing the stress of changing? Most of the yoga get-up I’ve seen looks like you have to bend yourself into quarters to even get the bloody things on.

I’m certain that there are plenty of people out there who would benefit enormously from a spot of yoga in their lives but who are put off by the elitist, self-satisfied, hypocritical baloney that sometimes surrounds it.

Sure, I’d love to have the time and money to go on a retreat in India, to absorb wholeheartedly the spirituality and the strict regime of an ashram to cleanse my body and soul (and liver). But after six weeks of it I’d also probably end up wanting to punch someone and run to the nearest pub/steakhouse.

For people like me – busy parents who swear too much and sometimes find themselves drinking by mistake, most of us would agree we all need a bit more self-care, but only if we can fit it in between trying not to kill our kids mid-meltdown and reaching for that bottle of whatever it is that we promised to give up forever.

Is this you?

Then yoga can still help and I’m going to show you how. No fancy words or phrases. You might not even realise it’s yoga, but it is. You’re going to feel better very soon, I promise.

Breathe
Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold for a second, then breathe out. If you’re snotty, breathe through your mouth but this will dry your mouth out, so take sips of water.

Sit or stand tall
Feel your neck and spine lengthen. Imagine more space between each vertebra. Tuck your tummy in and tilt your pelvis up slightly. Relax your shoulders.

Hang like a gorilla
From standing, feet hip-width apart, hinge forwards from the hips and let everything hang. If your hands don’t reach the ground then bend your knees and rest your upper body on your thighs. Feel your spine stretching out. Let your head and arms be heavy. You can make ‘ape noises’ if you want. I do. Come up slowly and stand tall again.

Be a rainbow
Stretch hands up, interlace your fingers, palms towards the sky and reach over to one side. Don’t lean forwards. After a few seconds, stretch over to the other side. Come back up and stand tall. Deep breath in and out through your nose. Our bodies very rarely do any lateral stretching in daily life, so this is a good one to add in. Be that rainbow!

TIP: When doing these exercises, to help you focus on your breath, make an ‘ahh’ sound at the back of your throat when breathing, while keeping your mouth shut. This is called ‘Ujjayi’ breath, meaning ‘victorious’, but you don’t need to worry about all that crap. Think of it as the ‘ocean breath’, where each breath sounds like the ocean. This has a calming effect and stops your mind from wandering too far. Are you still with me? Oi!

That’s it for today!
You already look better and are becoming aware of your spinal health. Congratulations! Have a glass of something you’re addicted to or treat yourself to a hot bath with the door locked where those flippin’ kids can’t reach you.

Next time we’ll look at simple poses to do first thing in the morning (you can even do them in bed, so there is literally no excuse) and last thing at night. Yep, even if you’re tipsy.

My aim is to help you to be naturally more aware of your body and its needs, to strengthen your lungs, help you stay calm, raise your levels of self-esteem and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be more likely to put the stopper in before you get to the end of the bottle. And if you don’t, it doesn’t matter. Don’t beat yourself up. Just be kind to yourself as much as possible and everyone else will benefit too.

I promised no fancy stuff, so I’m not even going to finish this with a ‘Namaste’.

Peace, dudes.
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