Tub on the Run


Ultimate Coffee Date: August 2016

I completely missed July’s Ultimate Coffee Date for some reason, so I have a couple of months to get caught up on. You’ve been warned – it’s a longish one!

Over coffee, I’d tell you about the week off I had in July. My last week off was back in March, so I was definitely ready for some time off. We didn’t have anything planned as such, so we stayed at home and went out on day trips. First stop, we had a day out to Lynmouth and came back via the Doone Valley.

Lynmouth - Beyond the Sofa

It was the best day, weather wise, of the whole holiday. The sunshine was absolutely gorgeous and it really felt like summer was just coming. We walked around Lynmouth, then up the hill (which is so ridiculously steep) to look at the Cliff Railway and I was reminded that I don’t think I could have done that walk about 6 months ago because of my weight. Don’t get me wrong, I was hardly sprinting up it, but I lumbered slightly more gracefully than I would have done previously.The climb was definitely worth it for the view though!

Lynmouth Cliff - Beyond the Sofa

One of the highlights was seeing wild Exmoor ponies. I’m quite used to seeing Dartmoor ponies roaming around Dartmoor. As a family, we have spent loads of time on Dartmoor, but not much time of Exmoor.  They’re so lovely. A little further up the road, there was a mare and her foal – so adorable!

Exmoor Ponies - Beyond the Sofa

On the way home, we stopped off at the little chapel in Doone Valley. Apparently Lorna Doone was the Devonian Romeo and Juliet. I don’t remember the story at all, so Matt’s Nan dug out her copy and sent it down to me (which I still haven’t read…).

The rest of the week, we weren’t blessed with good weather, though that didn’t stop us making the most of our National Trust membership. We visited Cotehele and took Matt’s nan to Tyntesfield. That was probably one of the more rewarding days. Nan doesn’t get to go out on day trips all that often, as she isn’t so mobile these days, but we offered to take her out for the day. I never realised how hard pushing a wheelchair around all day is. I definitely got a good sweat on, going up the hills. It was totally worth it though – she enjoyed herself and we were pleased to be able to do something with her too.

Cotehele House - Beyond the Sofa

If we were having coffee, you might notice I’m a bit stiff. I’ve finished my 6 week introduction to Mysore style yoga course, and have since signed up to do one class a week. I’ve got part way through to the seated poses and it’s really challenging me. I’m enjoying it though, but I also need to make sure that I get into a better routine for some home practice.

If we were having coffee, I hope you’d see that I am quite a bit thinner than when I started the year. This is my February to July progress:

Beyond the Sofa - Feb 2016 to July 2016

My Whole 100 is going really well still. I am actually on Day 90 today, and will do a weigh in post tomorrow, but at Day 60, I was 40lbs down. I still have a long way to go, but I’m pretty pleased with how it’s going. I really thought I was going to have some food boredom but now, but I’m not feeling it at all.

If we were having coffee, we’d probably be having coffee from a paper cup at Gatcombe Horse Trials right now. As part of my birthday present, Matt bought us tickets to Gatcombe. We went a couple of years ago but I felt we didn’t make the most of it. We’d gone, not really knowing what to expect, having never been to a big horse event before. We got absolutely soaked and didn’t really get round to seeing what we wanted to.

Gatcombe 2014 - Beyond the Sofa

This year, knowing what to expect, we’re going to try and squeeze a bit more in. I’m also hoping to get to play with my camera a little bit more this time. I definitely feel like I am able to tackle the hills with relative ease now so I’m hoping to get out onto more of the cross country course.

So, that’s where I’ve been. How is life with you?

Thank you as always to Lynda, Coco and Deborah for hosting Ultimate Coffee Date.  Thanks as always to Deborah, Lynda and Coco for hosting Ultimate Coffee Date each month! I think it’s a lovely way to catch up with and discover new blogs.

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Yoga isn’t relaxing – Part 2

If you missed Part 1, it’s probably worth a quick catch up here.

When the alarm went off on Sunday, I opened my eyes and felt rested. Actual, proper rest. This literally never happens. I had the best night’s sleep I’d probably had in months. The fact that I could barely move my legs was neither here nor there! My muscles ached. Maybe more than ached. While I’d had a good sleep, the fact I was barely mobile made me wonder whether I would be able to do Day 2. Mentally, I’d considered phoning in sick.

Wait. What the?!

As I woke up properly, I realised that I was being completely stupid. No one would have noticed my uncanny resemblance to a piece of wood – they were probably all feeling reasonably similar (which was later confirmed when I got to the studio).

Driving through the fog, working out the best route and considering where to park, I felt I’d made the right decision. This was only further confirmed by the easy welcome when I stepped through the door. It felt good.

Yoga isn't relaxing - Part 2

I set out my mat in the same place (total creature of habit) and we practised what we’d learnt the previous day. Despite thinking that my legs (which is where I had most of the soreness) were going to snap if I tried to bend them, the flow was much easier than I was expecting it to be.

After the sun salutations, Chris talked us through bandhas. During this part, I learnt I actually have lower stomach muscles.  I cannot think of a time when I have ever felt them before. Not even after an abs class at the gym. Turns out that I probably very rarely used these muscles, as after a while of using them, I found they ached, and later in the day, I found sneezing quite painful.

This lead on to some balances. I think it is fair to say that my balance isn’t amazing. I’m not sure why, other than I can only imagine it is because I a) don’t concentrate enough, and b) don’t engage the muscles needed for balance all that often. It seemed that I wasn’t the only one having problems in this area. What probably made it worse for me was as soon as I saw the guy to my left start to wobble or move, I followed suit. If I couldn’t see him though, it was much better.

After lunch, Chris talked about establishing a home practice, and carving out a space, both physically to roll your mat out, but also in terms of your diary. Yoga is best done in the morning apparently, and some practice is better than none. With this in mind, I’m trying to suss out how to incorporate this into my life in a more suitable way.

Towards the end, the more adventurous amongst us got to play a bit with back bends and inversions. I was able to take part in the back bends, but the inversion (shoulder stand) was a bit beyond me. I think I may have smothered myself with my own chest if I had attempted the shoulder stand!

Day 2 was less physically intensive than Day 1, but it was more subtle. There was lots of good information throughout and I actually feel that I understand now that yoga isn’t just a relaxing activity to while away the time and get a good stretch. Don’t get me wrong, there is stretching, but it is also uplifting and stress busting, and inspiring and grounding, and there is so much more beyond just moving.

I absolutely would recommend the Ashtanga Yoga Workshop if anyone was in the market for an introduction to Ashtanga yoga. The studio is really lovely – clean, warm and with plenty of equipment, and the people are very friendly and welcoming. I plan to go back to the Mysore classes once I have established a home practice. I feel like I have learnt a lot, and I’m desperate not to lose my focus on it.

Lastly, I have a couple of tips if you do find yourself signed up to a yoga workshop:

  • Get on the front row. I’m usually a back row kinda person, but I scooted forward to the front when I realised the second row had become the front row.
  • Don’t think people are watching you. Firstly, they won’t be. They’ll be too busy trying to make sure that their arm/hand/foot/leg/gaze is in the right place to notice what you’re doing. Secondly, you’ll be so busy trying to make sure that your arm/hand/foot/leg/gaze is in the right place that you won’t notice if they’re watching. The only person that matters when it comes to watching you is the teacher, who might adjust you.
  • Don’t think that all the participants are all going to be super-flexible, lithe athletes clad in Lululemon. I am living proof that this isn’t the case. We had a really good mix – from people like me, to an ironman athlete, to a yogi who had been practising for a year or so, to the stay-at-home mums who just seemed to want a bit of sanity back in their lives.
  • It isn’t serious. Well, at least this workshop wasn’t. It was good fun, if not hard work sometimes. Bodily functions will happen. People will snore during savasana. Your top will probably ride up. You’ll probably get a giggling fit and collapse, and if you don’t, someone else will. It doesn’t have to be serious.

So, as I said, this wasn’t exactly a bucket list item for me, but it was something that I wanted to do, and I’m really glad I did it.

Do you have anything similar you’d like to have a go at?


Yoga isn’t relaxing

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.

Yoga isn't relaxing

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?