“I can’t do yoga – I can’t even touch my toes”. Yarp, I was one of those. Completely missing the point that my inflexibility was exactly the reason I SHOULD – and could – do yoga.
I was a typical runner – full of running, tight of hamstring, and full to the brim of excuses not to stretch. I loved the idea of doing yoga; being all lithe and calm and supple, but actually doing it? In a room full of other people? Nope. Just nope.
But somehow, one day last summer I found myself arriving for my first class at Sweat Studios. Yep, I was throwing myself in at the 40-degree-heat deep end. In for a penny and all that.
One of my worries was that I wouldn’t be a ‘typical’ yogi; and one of the first things I realised was that there isn’t one. The class was filled with around 30 men and women, spanning all ages and physiques. Genuinely anyone can do yoga, and that’s pretty ace.
The class was hard, sure. But it’s as hard as you make it – everyone works to their own ability, and pushes as hard as they feel able to. And as for my worry about everyone looking at me? Honestly, apart from the person directly in front of me, I couldn’t tell you what anyone else in that room was doing. As someone who is ultra competitive, it surprised me how unconcerned I was with what everybody else was doing. It really is about you and your body. I’ll never forget how I felt after my first class: energised yet relaxed, and sweaty. All of the sweaty. And since then I’ve been hooked. I try to make the time to go once a week, and I really notice the difference when I don’t. It’s all but cured my lower back pain, my hamstrings are no longer tighter than a very tight thing, and yes, I can now touch my toes.
One thing that took me a little time to overcome was the feeling of self-consciousness that enveloped me when I was looking in a mirror in a room full of other (mainly) women. I felt small, I felt skinny; I felt inadequate. But over time, that 90 minute class has become a celebration of what my body can do. Yoga doesn’t just make you flexible, it makes you strong too, and I defy anybody not to feel body positive (soz, I couldn’t think of a less wanky way to say that) in a yoga class, whether they’re in their first ever downwards dog, or wrapping their leg around their head (no chaps, I still can’t do that, don’t get excited).
It’s no secret that yoga is great for runners: all that stretching is great for tightly wound bodies, but there are loads more benefits too. I had a chat with Kirsty at Sweat Studios, who shared some of her expertise with me:
- The strength and flexibility developed in yoga, namely in the core, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors, can help you run more efficiently and stay injury-free.
Balance is crucial to a strong running technique (you’re literally hopping from foot to foot), standing yoga poses develop balance and help you maintain correct posture and weight distribution through your feet. This not only improves technique but again, helps to prevent injury in long term.
- Doing yoga as a warm up helps prepare your muscles. After running, cooling down with yoga balances the strenuous pounding your body took.
If you’re ever in Milton Keynes and fancy getting sweaty, I would highly recommend Sweat Studios. It’s light, it’s bright, it’s friendly and it’s definitely my happy place. Just don’t steal my mat, ‘kay?
Note: this is in no way a sponsored post. All words and opinions are my own (especially the well-written ones. They’re definitely mine)