First Mysore Ashtanga class

Attended my first Mysore Ashtanga class today at my local yoga studio – Yogajo’s – 90 minutes of no teacher guidance (save for this Ashtanga Primary series poster by Michael Gannon which studio-owner Jo gave me and fellow Mysore newbie Mhairi to share).

I’ve practised yoga at home before without a dvd or book but maybe only for 30-40 minutes. 90 minutes was something of a revelation – to have the time – uninterrupted by child/hubby/pets/phone/doorbell etc was great and i was a full-on sweaty mess by the end of class. I don’t know all the postures yet and there are some i’m just too stiff at present to master but they’ll come in time i’m sure.



Have a New Year’s fitness/health/weight resolution?

If, like me, you’ve ever been a member of Weightwatchers/Slimming World/Jenny Craig/ANother of the million diet plans available, then it’s likely you are being email/facebook/twitter-spammed by them right now. Don;t give them your hard-earned cash but check out instead. It’s free, has more comprehensive exercise and food databases than Weightwatchers (in my opinion..) and links up to various exercise apps such as Bodymedia Fit, Endomondo Sports Tracker, FITBIT, Mio, Striiv and a ton of others plus there are apps for iPad, iPhone, Blackberry , Android and Windows Phone. My Other Half found this as he’s looking to get fitter and as it’s free i’m giving it a shot too. Can’t hurt, right?

Life. Yoga. Walking. Reading. Buddhism. Baking. Thats all.

It’s been a funny few weeks – not funny ha ha but funny in the way that the universe reminds you of the wider world and how it still continues to kick you up the arse whether you need it or not. The last couple of weeks have included: having the winning bid for a house so we are in the throes of preparing to move after two years of wanting to; attending a funeral; the death of one of my most-loved musicians (RIP MCA) who helped shaped not only my musical education but my knowledge of wider world events and philosophies; all manner of frustrating and exhausting shite at work; doing a second freelance job in the evenings; PMT through the roof with water-weight shifting up and down by up to half a stone daily and my daughter coming down with Chicken Pox.

All this is just LIFE of course and the above will seem trivial to many facing much harder times than me, but nonetheless, it all left me feeling a bit knackered and not quite myself and i felt i had to readjust things a little to try and avoid getting some horrible lurgy which would make me feel more overwhelmed and stressed and as a functioning mother, partner, employee etc it’s  total pain in the arse when i get ill and i am not a good patient!

I had been registered for the Glasgow Womens 10k but had simply not been getting out to run and when i had been out, had really not been enjoying it. This lead me to beat myself up a bit and harking back to my previous attempts at trying to consistently run (and largely failing). So, i decided to just not bother and write it off. I wasn’t running for charity so really the only person i’d be letting down was myself but as the running/not running was making me feel bad about myself i figured stopping worrying about it would make me feel better all round. And it did. (And as it happened, the day before the 10k, my daughter’s chicken pox started coming through so i wouldn’t have gone anyway).

Having felt some relief at giving up on a form of exercise which i just wasn’t enjoying, i thought more about what i did enjoy and came back, yet again, to Yoga. So i’ve made an effort to do some yoga for between 20 minutes and an hour 3 or 4 times a week (every day would be ideal but am not quite there yet!). I’m already feeling much better about exercising and in accepting that whilst yoga won’t change my body as quickly as running, the mental benefits are so much greater. I’ve also added some walking into the mix – so much more civilised than running:-) and i’m hoping to get into hill walking at some point too.

As for the crappy second freelance job, i ditched that (did i really want to write about bodybuilding supplements??) and picked up my kindle again; read some chick-lit (as a break from the Scandi-crime) and got a couple of free ebooks on Buddhism (re: MCA) to reignite something i’ve been interested in for years but never properly explored.

My favourite form of yoga is Vinyasa Flow (strengthening, aerobic, quick and importantly not the same postures every time unlike Ashtanga) which i also complement with some more gentle routines. I’ve been doing DVDs at home and once we’ve moved, i’ll look into classes again too. My current favourite dvds include:

Tara Lee: Beginners Yoga and Beyond: Elements of Yoga (grounding Hatha – for gentler days but you still feel your body working)

Eionn Finn: Power Yoga for Happiness (a number of routines here from just over half an hour to full class length – challenging routines excellent for building strength and he is a great surfer dude, so the routines are easy to follow and fun to do – you will sweat)

Claire Missingham: Yoga (excellent Vinyasa Flow for intermediate/advanced. Few bits i just can’t do on this DVD but i love that its challenging and her style is really encouraging)

Seane Corne: Vinyasa Flow Yoga 2 (lovely Vinyasa Flow simply done)

Body Shaping Intensive Yoga (does what it says in the tin – couple of shorter Vinyasa based routines 30-40 mins plus 60 mins – you will sweat)

Rodney Yee: My first Yoga dvd’s some years ago were by Rodney Yee and i still use them (including Intermediate Yoga and Power Yoga Total Body Workout) but when time is short i like AM Yoga for your day (5 20 minute routines) and his Ultimate Power Yoga (not quite ‘Power Yoga’ but 5 2-30 min routines)

I also did some baking again with TheYoungLady, which we hadn’t done for some time. The cakes were dreadful (that’ll teach me to follow a recipe off the side of the packet…) but helped me feel like i was a bit more Me again.

What do you do to help you feel a bit more like You again?

Classic Dutch bikes by Hollander – want it!

I don’t currently have a bike but i would just love one of these classic Dutch bikes by Hollander, normally available for over £500  but currently available for £199 on I think i would go classic black rather than girly pink though. There is a chaps one too but not quite sure why its a tenner cheaper?

I love the simplicity of these bikes – no complicated gears (i never understood them…) or flashy extras, just laid-back, cool, classic design and utterly stylish.

Love Yoga/Hate Yoga

Which is of course a bit Yin/Yang isn’t it? I’ve done (I use Do – I find ‘practice’ a bit daft though do like Yogi Eoin Finn saying we should ‘play’ yoga) yoga on and off now for nearly 20 years.
Actually I can’t quite believe that I’ve just written 20 years but there you go. You’d think I’d be supreme-bendy-yoga-master by now but there have been significant gaps in my yoga practice (ok, yes I used ‘practice’) and one period of quite a few years where I did none at all.
I find I have times when I just enjoy the comfort of doing something that I know how to do. There inevitably comes a point though when I get frustrated with my limitations. Yes, its very un-yoga but my ego gets in the way and I’m annoyed at postures I can’t do (Crow and Wheel in particular. Am not so bothered about Headstand). I then think I should be doing something cardio-based instead (though I should point out my preferred yoga style is Vinyasa Flow which can build up a serious sweat!); then I stop doing yoga and try running for a bit then get frustrated that I’m rubbish at running and go back to yoga. I must have followed this pattern a few times now and this week came back to Yoga after getting fed up with being rubbish at running (again…).

My practice began with a routine torn out of 19 magazine (which I still have laminated!) and whilst I have quite a few books, I prefer to work out to DVDs. I go through phases of trying classes but am yet to find a teacher I truly enjoy.

My favourite yoga teachers on DVD include the wonder that is Rodney Yee’; surfer Power yoga dude Eoin Finn and whilst I find the new-agey lingo of Shiva Rea a bit much, she really kicks ass. I have DVDs of Claire Missingham and Seane Corn coming to me soon off Ebay and I need to find DVDs of Sara Ivanhoe and Baron Baptiste before the few routines I have of theirs (from now defunct Sky channel Body in Balance)on the Sky+ box disappear.

I love Yoga (again…)

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Putting the ‘Fun’ into ‘Run’

I ran in a 5k Fun Run today. I say ‘ran’ but it was a more of a slow jog with a couple of short walk breaks. Knackering but i did enjoy it and had the honour of my wee girl running out to join me crossing the finish line. I’m also running (again – in the loosest sense of the word) a 10k in May. I’ve also been to the odd Zumba class and getting back into Yoga again too.

I’m not a natural athlete. i don’t find exercise easy and didn’t come from a sporty family so it’s never really been engrained in me to make it part and parcel of every day life. I did Saturday morning dancing when i was younger then gave it up in my teens to hang around record shops and charity shops and like most teen girls, avoided PE as often as i could (girls – You all know the excuse you used...).

At University, there were frankly too many other distractions but i walked everywhere, was out dancing a lot and occasionally did a Yoga routine i’d ripped out of a magazine (and still have – LAMINATED – as its such a good 20 minute routine) so my weight wasn’t too much of an issue until i hit my mid-20s. Lengthy pub sessions and eating man-sized portions (after moving in with my Significant Other) meant i had to start visiting a gym occasionally. We then got a dog so, much walking to even out some, though not all of the creeping weight. A couple of successful stints on Weightwatchers (then unsuccessful slipping back into old habits) plus getting back into Yoga and trying running for the first time meant that i was quite solidly that typical British size 14-16 – sometimes fit and toned, sometimes not so much.

Having a baby does quite ridiculous things to your body (particularly in your 30s when you then truly realise that yes, it does take MUCH longer to get your body back) and i yo-yo-ed between losing the weight quickly then piling it back on when just needing carbs and sugars to keep going due to sleep deprivation. However, my daughter is a few months off being 4 years old so ‘baby weight’ doesn’t cut it any more. Trying to fit in exercise around family, work etc is the subject of countless patronising womens magazine articles and mummy-blogs which i don’t intend to try and replicate here.

I just needed a good kick up the arse and Run Fat Bitch Run by Ruth Field – check out her blog here – was just what i needed. The idea of just putting on your trainers and getting outside isn’t revolutionary of course but sometimes its good to be reminded that you don’t need an expensive gym membership or tons of techy gadgets to simply get your arse moving. The frankly awesome filmmaker and author Michael Moore is also doing a similar thing but encouraging people to get their trainers on and get outside for a 40 minute walk. Check out #miketakesawalk on Twitter. See, its simple really.