With regards to yoga, I have to admit I was -up until probably a fortnight ago – the most sceptical person I knew. A self-confessed cardio freak who liked- and still loves- nothing more than sticking some headphones in and pounding the pavement in my trainers for at least half an hour to, quite literally, run away from my problems, yoga to me seemed too tedious and slow.
Even stretching has always been a problem for me. I am so guilty of coming back into the flat after a run and jumping straight into the shower then chowing down on some food afterwards, which, having learned my lesson from a hip injury, I now know is 100% NOT the right thing to do. The point is, while stretching for five minutes was too much to ask, how on earth would I ever be able to be forced into slow breathing and twisting into weird shapes for almost an hour? I put off trying yoga for so long, preferring to chill out in a cafe near the gym while my yoga-mad friends stretched out their bodies and found their inner spirit – but with exams looming, my workload increasing and my sleep suffering as a result, my personal trainer (and friend) suggested that I set a timer for three minutes every night before bed to just lie on the floor and zone out.
As she didn’t mention the dreaded y-word, I decided to give it a shot. It was just lying on the ground, right? So, for the week in between our sessions, I set a timer every night, no matter how late it was or how exhausted I was feeling, for three minutes, and I lay on a mat on the floor, eyes closed, listening only to the sound of my own breathing (and of dogs barking and people yelling but that couldn’t be helped.)
To be honest, the first few nights were give-or-take, but I have to admit that over the second half of the week I found myself falling asleep quicker and without moving around so much. I felt more comfortable, and while I still wasn’t able to sleep right through the night, I felt more relaxed in the morning compared to the nights before I started this exercise. Switching my brain off seemed to switch off everything that came with the thoughts inside- anxiety and negative thoughts disappeared, even just for the couple of minutes I was on the floor, but this meant I could get into bed feeling significantly less burdened with the day’s stresses than I normally would.
The next week I checked in with my PT, and she asked me how it went, and I told her my experience. So she told me to increase the time on the floor to five minutes- if three minutes had been useful, perhaps five would be even better. I agreed, and on a surfing trip through YouTube later that day, I found a 30 Day yoga programme that promised a different routine every day (good for people who get bored, like me) and the videos never exceeded half an hour (again, good for people who get bored but also helpful for those with busy lives.)
Thus, so begins my journey as a yogi. Having taken time to research the practise – and being three days into the programme now – I feel that if I can stick to doing this one thing for one month while taking five minutes to breathe and relax before bed every night, I may actually see some benefits. Who knows? I might get bored after a week and stop, or I may not see anything change and get frustrated and give up, but it’s worth trying to see if I can really stretch and twist the tension and anxiety out of my body.