(Theguardian) – More things than I realised have their roots in yoga, because yoga is at the root of all things
Just because I’m not doing yoga moves doesn’t mean I’m not doing yoga. It’s the union of body, mind and soul. You could be connecting with your inner you while you’re running.” I never am. But never mind. Lizzie Chong, 26, teaches yoga at Twenty Two Training, quite a fancy place in London. I was just after first principles, or to refine that, one crucial steer: why do this boring thing, when I’d rather be doing any other thing?
So much of this is familiar from other activities: the 10 minutes we spent breathing was very like the time I learned to breathe (deep into your belly, out into your ribs like an accordion, into your chest, if you have any lung left). Connecting to your every muscle, even the ones in your fingers and toes, and feeling them relax, I’ve definitely done before – mindfulness classes, team-building courses, aerobics. The child’s pose I did at the end of a circuits class the other day. More things than I realised have their roots in yoga, because yoga is at the root of all things.
God, but the breathing takes ages. “Using your full lung capacity brings you to right now, the present moment,” Chong says. Now I remember I did an online 30 days of yoga but I ballsed it up by always being in a rush, which is like trying to speed up a symphony or a facial. Stop rushing. Just breathe. The problem with not rushing is that everything takes ages.
“The image of yoga now is these quite acrobatic moves,” Chong continues, “which I think people find intimidating. A lot of the time you’ll get more benefit from a really basic move.” As an apple is as exotic to a baby as a papaya, so a basic move is as acrobatic to me as actual acrobatics. We go into a bridge. I still cannot keep my mind on my alignment, so I’m wondering where she got her yoga wear, which is like a sparkly full-body bikini. “Concentrate.” OK.
We did the cat and cow, arching our backs then flattening them (it should really be called the angry cat and the emotionally neutral cow). We did the bird dog, which is an exercise on your hands and knees, shooting one arm and the opposite leg out like a (sort-of) hunting hound, rather than a mash-up between the bird and the downward dog.
I was starting to relax into it, in the way of some impossible-to-avoid confinement, like being arrested. We did the mountain, which is essentially standing up in a mindful way, and the warrior two into an extended side angle, which is more challenging, unless you’re happy to do it wrong. Lots of suggestions sound subtle (imagine your feet are pulled together by a magnet) but are actually hard.
I felt taller, calmer, wiser, straighter-backed and more generous at the end, an idealised Jilly-Cooper version of myself. The short answer: you do this boring thing because it’s in letting yourself be bored that you realise boredom itself is really a mindless restlessness that will never be sated.
What I learned
In a situation where you have to choose, always prioritise a straight back over straight hamstrings.