The Snickers advert with Joan Collins in always makes me laugh.
Sadly, the reality is that it seems I turn into a diva (though not anywhere approaching glamourous) if I find myself in the situation where I struggle to cope. Matt tells me that one of the things that really makes a difference to how I am and how well I cope with stuff is when I practice yoga. Or, rather, as I learnt this weekend, practice the poses.
I’ve been meaning to go on a yoga workshop for some time. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was on my bucket list, but it is something I have wanted to do just for me. I was googling yoga studios locally, and came across the Ashtanga Yoga Workshop in Exeter. I read the reviews, browsed their website and put my name down for the Beginners 2-Day Intensive workshop. This would probably have been around May. I knew the house move was going to take precedence for a while, but that we would definitely have moved house by 3rd October when the workshop started.
In the run up to the workshop, I’d had all these great ideas about how the unpacking would be finished in the first week, and I’d be able to roll my mat out in the spare bedroom and get back into it before the workshop. Yeah. That didn’t happen. In a way, I’m kind of glad, as I went to the workshop with no bad habits formed.
My history with yoga has been primarily gym class based, running through various poses, trying to breathe through them, and treating it as exercise, and a relaxing one that that. No fast paced stuff, and definitely there was never any real sweating, and I can’t remember a time when the instructor would correct my form in a pose. This kind of moved across into my own home practice with YouTube videos. I didn’t know if I was following a particular style of yoga, or anything behind it. Turns out, there is a lot more to yoga than just the poses!
On Day 1, I parked at the park and ride, and made my way to the studio for 10:45am. The studio is lovely. It’s a little cocoon away from the hustle and bustle, tucked down a little side street that you would miss if you weren’t looking for it. That said, it isn’t hard to find (the website directions are very good). Stepping in, the lighting is muted, it is warm, and smells cosy and welcoming. I didn’t know anyone else there, which was a little daunting, but quickly forgot all about it as I made friends with one of the ladies who I parked my mat next to.
Chris, our teacher, asked us to introduce ourselves before talking about the workshop. First order of the day was to get us to breathe properly. I thought “huh? I am breathing, so surely that is good?”. Turns out I was wrong. Breathing fully, when you’re not used to doing it, is actually hard work, but also fascinating. Immediately this differed to what I had been shown previously – in through your nose, out through your mouth. Not in this workshop! No mouth breathing in any way. It wasn’t banned, but it felt much more effective to breathe through my nose.
After a break, it was on to sun salutations (A and B). The idea was to apply the breathing techniques that we had used in the morning in physical practice in the afternoon. These deep breaths drive movement, not the other way around, as I often thought. I recognised the sun salutations from my previous dabbling. A little bit of dread filled me at the thought of it. I cannot hold downward dog for longer than literally 1 pant, let alone five full breaths. Nope. My wrists, elbows and shoulders just don’t get it. Chris said “try puppy pose”. What?! Puppy pose?! What is this? Turns out that puppy pose is something that I can work with to working up to full downward dog – there is progression! I immediately felt the weight of dread lift.
Dread was swiftly replaced by sweat. Not quite dripping, but not far off! Thankfully I wasn’t the only one. After a couple of guided flows, and then a couple of solo flows, it was time for possibly one of the best bits of yoga… Savasana. Then lunch. Two great things!
After lunch, there was an introduction to the opening chant. I thought I’d find it really cringey, but actually it was really engaging. I won’t lie, it probably won’t be something I’ll be able to remember for home practice though. Standing poses followed the chants and information about the Ashtanga style. Chris had warned us earlier that we may feel some emotions during poses that we weren’t expecting to feel. When he’d said it, I remembered Kino MacGregor (who I follow on Instagram) saying that she would cry during a specific back bend. I smiled, thinking that this is something that happened to those who were really “good” at yoga. So to say that when I felt white hot anger in a forward bend was a shock, was a bit of an understatement. I don’t understand why, and I was really surprised it happened. I put it down to tiredness.
I came home feeling really grumpy. I was sore – my lower back felt like someone had sandpapered my muscles, my feet ached and my knees felt bruised. I wondered whether I could make it through to Day 2!
I think this post has gone on long enough, so I’ll post about Day 2, and my thoughts separately.
Have you been to a yoga workshop before? What did you think?