Yoga:What’s your mirror image saying?

 

mirror-983427_1280It’s hard to look at yourself; I mean REALLY look at yourself. However twice a week this is what I do when I pitch up to do some Hot Bikram Yoga.

Sometimes the mirror image I see under these circumstances is really difficult to face. I often scrutinise the big belly I have, or even in a yoga studio full of men and women, I’m always convinced I stand out as being the only one who isn’t flexible enough; or even if I match up to the other yogis and their brilliant yoga poses.

Last week was one of those moments. Everything I did in the class felt wrong. I was hard on myself and it hurt. No; it wasn’t so much a physical hurt, it was a mental hurt. I went into the class feeling really disjointed and emotional.

It was no big surprise as I couldn’t kick away the dark moment I was feeling when I woke up that morning. I didn’t know what to do for the best or how to feel better, so I ended up going to do some yoga.

My negative inner voice in the class just wouldn’t shut up though. It kept going into overdrive;

“What the hell are you doing? Go home, you shouldn’t be here. There’s no point, YOU’RE USELESS!”

It was hard but I managed to stay right to the very end. I was determined to see it through.

My yoga teacher could see my inner turmoil messing with my head and her voice was comforting, soothing and nurturing.

As the class ended, I lay on my mat in Savasana and that was when the tears started to fall. I hid my head behind my towel and cried. No wonder they say this is one of the hardest postures to do! All you need to do is just lie still and do nothing. It’s not as easy as it seems.

The studio eventually became empty and I lay there sobbing. That was when my yoga teacher spotted me.

“I knew I shouldn’t have come; a friend of mine passed away recently and I went to her funeral just a few days ago. I’m feeling far too raw. I thought that if I came here I’d be able to sort my head out, but I’ve made myself feel worse.”

I tried to explain myself to her through the tears that were now refusing to stop falling. I sounded ridiculous and pathetic.

She gave me a hug, held my hand and said;

“I’m so sorry for your loss. Sometimes yoga is just what you need. The fact that you turned up and didn’t leave meant you were supposed to be here. The warmth that you get from the studio is a literal and healing thing.”

I’m often a real cynic about the yoga I do. When I look in the mirror I see someone who is chubby, clumsy and awkward. I fall out of postures often and at times I wonder what benefit I am getting out of it all.

But for the first time someone saw me in a different way in comparison to the person I saw in the mirror. My yoga teacher saw that I needed to be there in the studio and the yoga I had just completed aided me to arrive at a crucial stage in my day. It gave me the ability to really let go, cry and begin to grieve for my friend.

I have in the past experienced some yoga teachers who can come across as being disconnected from their students. They are quick to give you sarcastic comments when you rush into a class late; or decide to give you some soul destroying comment when they think you’re not trying hard enough. It’s hard for them to realise that we all come into the studio with differing issues we’re trying to leave at the door.

I am truly blessed that my yoga teacher on that day wasn’t like that. She saw way beyond the postures I was doing and helped me through the tears. She was intuitive, kind and incredibly understanding. Yoga teachers like her can truly reach out to you in ways that are far more beneficial to your body and mind than perfecting a particular posture or breathing in a certain way.

Every now and then THEY WILL give you a hug and REALLY see the person staring back at you in the mirror. THEY WILL SEE YOU as someone of real worth and value. They can give you the reassurance that to just turn up to a class is enough and when the class ends, they don’t mind if you have a cry afterwards because they will sometimes comfort you when you really need it!

So, who do you really see staring back at you in a yoga studio? Are you being too hard on yourself when you can’t do a particular posture? If this is the case, you need to remember;

It’s only Yoga … but you never know what you might experience in a class.

 

 

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Namaste!

(Copyright: Steph Js 2017)

This Blog is dedicated VP who passed away on the 22nd January 2017. RIP my friend. x 

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Daily Prompt: Festive

via Daily Prompt: Festive

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Chocolate Cake: A Short Story

Ding dong Bobby’s in the pie

He’s gobbling it up big time

Ding dong fatty, my oh my

His chubby cheeks are chomping

Chomp, a chomp, a chomp, a chomp…chompier

It’s Fatty with his excess!

 

Robert’s hand couldn’t stop shaking. His body felt so uncomfortable in such a way that made even his eyes itch. As he turned over the calendar to reveal the 1st of December, his fingers stuck to the page with sweat. He hated this month. When he switched on the radio, an audible doom began almost right on cue. The words blasted his ears and landed him right back to that horrendous time again.

Chomp a chomp…It’s fatty with his excess!

The jovial tones of the Christmas carol Ding Dong Merrily on High, made him want to heave.

 ‘Good morning Bobby’ Molly seemed especially chirpy when she spotted Robert enter the sliding doors at his local Price Right Supermarket.

‘Good Morning Molly, how are you today?’ She handed him a wire basket on his way into the store to collect his weekly supplies.

‘All the better for seeing you.’ Molly giggled.

I wish she would stop calling me Bobby and why has she gone all red in her face? He suspected she was being sarcastic. She was always making suggestive comments about him in a funny sort of way.

Ding Dong Bobby’s in the pie, he’s gobbling it up big time.

‘Oh no not AGAIN.’

The tune seemed to be haunting him. Rasping out of the speakers in corners; Ding Dong Bobby’s in the pie. The lyrics became instantly rewritten in his head instead of the ones that everyone else was familiar with.

‘Are you ok Bobby? I thought I heard you shouting’ Molly was concerned and wanted to help. He seemed so troubled.

Robert tried so hard not to let the words get to him, but in his head the alternative version of this carol was programmed in, ever since he made that ill-fated decision to join the choir at St Williams School in Smallgate.

Glancing in the mirror on the way past the clothing aisle, he slid his hands down towards the bottom of his jumper and pulled down on the hem. The soft black wool stretched and moulded over his thighs. It covered what he saw was his bulging stomach. Why did I wear this jumper today? It’s shrunk in the wash. I should’ve thrown it away. You can see my big, fat stomach. He wrapped his hefty jacket tightly around his body, shielding everyone from the disgust he saw. Then he pulled out a crumpled shopping list, stomping around the store desperate to finish his shopping and get out.

Ok here goes. Milk, bread, biscuits, oil. My God! He thought. Look at the special offer on those biscuits, two for a pound. He turned the corner ready to steer himself away from them.

‘Hello Sir, would you like to try this new cake? It’s the new one from The Cappa Cake Factory. It’s really yummy and gorgeous just like you.’

The shop assistant practically forced the cake into his mouth. The taste of the creamy dark chocolate was hard to resist. Its toffee fudge filling slipped deliciously down his throat. Instantly he was hooked. Two slices later he was salivating as his eyes became fixated on the cake, drawing him in, unable to resist the sweet temptation. He brought two boxes of the cake. Thoroughly revolted with his lack of willpower, he fled to leave red-faced and ashamed.

‘Hi Bobby, you’ve been busted I see! Good for you, Cappa Cakes are so scrummy.’

Molly beamed with delight while she wiped away evidence of the cake still smeared near the corner of his mouth.

‘Just leave me alone Molly and it’s Rob, not Bobby; Stop calling me by that ridiculous name!’

He stormed out of the supermarket leaving his basket full of shopping in the middle of the store. I can’t go to that store anymore; I’ve made such a fool of myself he thought.

How many times should I have to tell people I prefer to be called Rob? Rob was the man he wished to be; a man happy in his own skin, regardless of his size or what anyone thought. He’d be able to start again, shrug off the demons still haunting him.

Mother always insisted on calling him Bobby. Everyone in the store called him that name, even after his mother passed away. She often used to say “Rob” sounded like some drug- induced hippy. Every time Robert tried to get her to change, she’d laugh and ridicule the puny pleads of protest:

‘Bobby darling, mother knows best. Please don’t put me through all of this; you know I haven’t got long for this world.’

Robert never argued with mother. She was terminally ill after all. For more than fifteen years Robert believed his mother’s lamentations about her health. Last year she died in her sleep of natural causes. How could she hold a person to ransom like that for all that time? She controlled him; everything he ate, how much and when was all down to her.

The run for the bus home was a challenge that almost crippled him. His heart-felt like tiny shards of glass snapping into pieces; sharp and jagged. His breath became laboured and he couldn’t stop sweating. Yet again he promised to himself once more to sort this all out. That bloody Christmas tune, bloody Christmas; I hate it!  Robert was still seething about what had happened in the store. His anger became worse when the bus drove past his old school. There were some teenage boys jostling with each other, calling each other names in jest. It reminded him of his time at St Williams. His mother made sure his first day was one he’d never forget.

‘Mum, please just drop me at the bus stop.’ Pleading was not going to make a difference. Bessie had made up her mind. Arm in arm, she walked with her son.

‘Bobby darling I bet most of the boys secretly hope their mothers would take them in on their first day. You’re just being a bit too sensitive.’

Robert’s mother loved fussing over her son and of course feeding her beautiful boy who was deliciously chubby with rosy red cheeks. The bullying of course began that first term when he was spotted with mother going through the gate. He had a rucksack full of food, clothes that gaped with the tightness of pastry wrapped in Cling Film, and several red lipstick stains plastered on his cheeks. The misery escalated to another level during a rehearsal for that fateful Christmas choir concert; for a dare, Peter and his mates changed the lyrics to the tune of Ding Dong Merrily on High to feature Robert and thus began his nightmare that would torment him for the remainder of his school days.

Two months had passed and Robert needed to get some shopping in. He decided to walk there rather than take the bus, fed up with the nasty taunts and jibes he was having to endure almost daily when he travelled by public transport. The new kids at St Williams had begun all over again to pick on him about his size when they travelled back and forth to school.

“I left that hell hole years ago and they still hate me.”

Robert had taken again to wearing a large overcoat to cover everything. He thought it best if no one was able to see his repulsive body.

He found himself outside Price Right. Molly had just left the store on her break. I’ve got to apologise, it’s not her fault I’m a mess. I have to make things right again.

‘My goodness. Hi Bobby, I mean Rob.’ Molly was stunned to see him.

‘Molly. I’m sorry. I-I was awful to you.’ He blurted the words out not thinking about what it sounded like.

‘Rob, it’s ok. I’m glad to see you. I was hoping you’d come back in. I wanted to give you this.’ Molly pulled out of her handbag a card. He was puzzled at her look of concern. He turned over the small green and white card and read the words; Eating Disorders Anonymous. Surely she can’t be thinking of me? I’m so fat, I know I need to lose some weight, but I don’t have anything wrong me.

‘Have you seen what you look like?’ She pulled away at his coat and beckoned him to look at his reflection in the shop window.

‘I know I’m huge Molly, don’t rub it in.’ Tears began to form in his eyes. He couldn’t stand the humiliation anymore. Dejected he started to walk away, mortally wounded that Molly was making fun of him, just like everyone else did.

‘No Rob, you’re not. Let me help you through this.’

For the first time in years, Rob saw that he had become a ghostly skeleton of a man dressed in oversized clothes and wearing a large shroud that was in fact a big coat.

A few months later Molly held Rob’s hand when he found the courage to attend his first Eating Disorders Anonymous group.

Next year when December came around, Rob celebrated his new found confidence by getting engaged to Molly. When he heard the tune Ding Dong Merrily on High, it was as if he heard something he had never encountered before, it actually sounded quite pleasant.

‘Hey Molly, do you think we could have that as our wedding tune?’

‘Not bloody likely, now shut up and eat your cake.’

They were laughing so much that they both nearly choked on their Cappa Chocolate Cake.

End

COPYRIGHT: SJS 26.12.2016

Yoga, 5 Reasons to do it!

giphy-1.gif.gifYou have your Kundalini, Ashtanga or even my personal favourite, Bikram or Hot Yoga. There are hundreds of different types of yoga out there, all of them are designed to do everything from aligning your chakras, to creating a more relaxed and chilled out person in all of us.

Here are five fabulous reasons to do yoga

1.     It helps to keep you limber in the gym:

If you’re a gym bunny you may find that overtraining can cause your muscles to become tired and extremely stiff when performing repetitive moves all the time. If you sprinkle in a yoga session once or twice a week, it helps to loosen up your joints allowing them to become more flexible again.

 2.     Your hair and skin will benefit from regular practice:

When I first started doing Bikram (Hot) Yoga I thought that as a black woman, my hair would suffer from the constant sweating and frizziness. Far from it!

Yoga has made my hair grow and my skin glow!

Remember to slip on a scarf before each session. It will stop your hair from getting too sweaty and in the way when you’re trying to do a posture.

3.     Regular practice will enhance your bedtime sleep:

According to Dr Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., a Clinical Psychologist and writer of Psychology Today, regular yoga practice can help with insomnia.

He quotes that;

“[Studies indicate] yoga can help improve sleep among people with chronic insomnia.”

So if you can’t sleep, try learning the child’s pose in yoga or other relaxing moves and you’ll soon be sleeping like a baby.

4.     It can lift your mood and help alleviate symptoms of depression

I know that when I’m feeling tense and a bit down, I benefit immensely from a session of yoga. Within a few minutes of practising, I can feel my mood lifting and an instant feeling of euphoria.

This is because yoga can increase your serotonin levels, the stuff that affects your mood and brain function.  I know it certainly fires up my serotonin and brings back the good vibes in my life! Check out the website healthline.com for the ‘science bit’ on how Yoga can help to combat depression. http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/yoga-therapy#Overview1 

5.     Yoga can tone and strengthen muscles in a similar way to weight training with less impact on your joints

The Triangle Pose and Plank Pose are two of my favourite postures for toning your abs and strengthening your core.

With regular practice of yoga, I’ve seen my body tone up in a gentler way than, pumping iron all the time. Many types of yoga postures are designed to tone and shape up your body, depending on which one you choose to do.

When you do hot yoga you’ll find your limbs will become supple and your joints are much more likely to stretch naturally.

So, now you know, find a cosy space or studio and do some yoga NOW!

References:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleep-newzzz/201210/yoga-can-help-insomnia

http://www.dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/how-to-use-yoga-to-help-you-get-a-good-nights-sleep/

Copyright: Steph S. 2016

A Hot Yoga Poem

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Forgive me Inner hot Yogi Self, for I have sinned…

It is three months since I graced the presence of your company and felt the warmth of the forty degree ray of heat healing my body.

I long to feel my joints stretch into submission and relax once more; rather than the stiffness of my knees, cracking like twigs in sympathy with the coldness of the weather.

I miss the 26 postures and even the familiar way that the yoga teachers describe the postures in strange and funny ways.

Like the teacher who says “Time to get rid of your wind!” or the one who dares you to smile and not take it all so seriously.

I want to go back. To a time when I slept like a baby at bedtime and woke only when daybreak came; entering a new challenge, a new day or a life centered and with purpose.

It seems like such a long time ago when I was in a crowded room in what seems like a million sweaty bodies, all working to find the pinnacle of enlightenment in a ninety minute meltdown.

But I don’t miss the sweaty bodies though, just the camaraderie of it all!

Will I be forgiven when I go back?

For I have given into the laziness of winter. It is constantly luring me to sit and vegetate in front of the television.

I find myself watching it hypnotically, as my thighs and stomach spread largely due to the overexertion of eating…

And will I receive a critical eye from the yoga teacher as I slip into the back of the room, hoping that no one can feel the guilt I feel at having left you for what seems an eternity?

The answer dear hot yogi self is no.

All thoughts of negativity are left at the door.
Just come back quickly, get there when you can.

Roll out your mat with PRIDE and take your place WITH confidence.
For in the yoga world, there is no judgement or noise, or song and dance because you didn’t come back sooner…

Just a warm enveloping heat, with plenty of smiles.

And some peace and harmony once more.

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Transformation: Have you recently gone through ONE?

 

What TRANSFORMATION have you recently gone through? 

A transformation can happen when one puts on a mask, make-up or some other type of costume to disguise or beguile. Equally the metamorphosis of this act can mean that we change in nature or character.

Recently I have the good fortune (or some would say misfortune!) to wear some of the most spectacularly, ghoulishly hideous, but brilliant make-up & costumes over Halloween I have ever seen.

Every year anyone that knows me well always hears me carp on about how Halloween is just for children. I don’t really believe in almost grown men and women of seventeen (or older!) knocking on my door with their mates shouting in their near to broken voices ‘Trick or treat! and expecting me to give them sweets or money for some ciggies.

I kid you not; the “children” that have knocked on my door on Halloween, are old enough to know better and have asked me for treat money to buy cigarettes!

Somewhat bemused, I often slam the door in their faces. When I hear them laughing and walking away, I’m always relieved that they haven’t pelted my windows with eggs or that they do something even more sinister for my trick.

But this year, I wished that if they had knocked on my door, I would have greeted them like this:

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After all the kids who have seen me in this get-up when working, have been really tentative, secretly peering at me from behind their parents back and wondering if the woman they were seeing in front of them is really as nasty in personality as she looked. Then they seem puzzled when I have been charming, smiley and congenial towards them; instead of the angry looking, scarred individual.

However as we approach the end of the year, I have to REFLECT on the difficult times I’ve experienced that has transformed me into someone completely altered to how I was before the year began.

This person is someone who has had to take a cathartic, liberating and deep look at myself and I’ve emerged more resilient, ready to face those who dare to try and besmirch me and all I value and love.

I have seen people that I thought I knew; try to transform me through their lies into a person that was evil, ugly and not me all…

But…

“I KNEW MYSELF TO BE TRUE…”  

… And when I started to feel the knives in my back and certain people ganging up on me, I felt completely powerless to stop them. It was hard to stay strong. I became more and more despondent and depressed, wondering who to trust. I trusted no one.

My family and loved ones have continued to hold me up through this time (both physically and mentally) and believe in me as one by one, so called friends stopped calling and texting. I realised that WHATEVER HAPPENS my family were never going to let me down or forsake me, turn their back on me or leave me to suffer.

My life now has been completely transformed again into someone who is more closely guarded and less trusting of others. I am slowly getting through the quagmire that has been at times like a real life horror film.

As well as my family, I am relying on my muse to get me through the dark moments; the late great Maya Angelou, whose wisdom always continues to transform me into a much more stronger person worthy of holding her head up high. Reading her quotes and books is the uplift I have needed right now.

I’ve also started to take pictures of things that spark my inspiration. I’m enjoying being the creative person I once was before the ugliness began to seep into my life. I am beginning to find a strength and confidence in myself once more.

When I passed this board at Leicester Square station in London recently…

People must have thought I was weird as I literally stopped dead in my tracks and smiled while staring at it for a good few minutes!

The words were perfect for just right now! It seemed apt that the word ‘FUTURE’ in the sign was partially faded because I don’t know how long this feeling of euphoria will last or even what the future holds…

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Don’t get me wrong, although I have since learnt that those who conspired to hurt me, had indeed lied. I still feel ANGER about it all and SOMETIMES I feel myself TRANSFORMING once again into a monster, riling at the injustice of it all!

However with Dr. Maya Angelou‘s words and legacy, I am learning to turn my anger into much better things.

Here’s what she says about being angry:

“You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.” Maya Angelou

 EVERYDAY I TRY TO RISE ABOVE IT…

http://quotesgram.com/what-goes-around-comes-around-quotes-and-sayings/

So this is a picture of me … SMILING and TRANSFORMED into a person that feels a bit more OK (ish) about things and someone who my sister Suzette (RIP) once said to…

“Go out and conquer the world”.

(Suzette C.S, 24th July 2001)

Well I’m not too sure about whether I’ll be able to do that, but I feel in a much more relaxed, stronger and confident place to be able to conquer all the nasties that may come my way. (for now!!)

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Here’s hoping that whatever TRANSFORMATION you may have to go through, becomes one that TRANSFORMS you into a  wonderful person and a better place in your life full of much love and happiness! 

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Namaste

Copyright: SJS 2016

A Welsh Holiday…in England

Chirk Rules OK!

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Chirk Castle

 

 

 

Recently on holiday in North Wales, I visited  Chirk Castle with my family. It is a salubrious monument to Welsh history; knee deep in fabulous beauty, pomp and circumstance. There was also a lovely balance of things to see, do and touch. Indeed it’s an absolutely fun and interactive place to visit.

20160823_134022.jpg Amazing Chirk 

I was especially fascinated by the adorable, but quirky way they had of telling visitors nicely to ‘Not touch’ or sit on certain pieces. 

 

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There’s something very prickly going on here!

 

“They had delicately placed a holly leaf strategically on certain items and in particular, I kept seeing them on the more elaborate antique chairs.” 

 

 

 

 

When I first saw this, I kept thinking; Is it December already? I thought I’d skipped some months in a moment of forgetfulness and had wafted into the festive season. 

 

Then, I thought they were put there by some mischievous child who had found it in one of Chirk’s many glorious gardens. 

 

However as walked further on, it was clear the rude awakening was especially there for us; the general public so visitors wouldn’t sit on or touch these objects.

Is it time to start singing The Holly and The Ivy??!!

 

Their method worked! It was fantastic to see young and old alike cheerfully following the ‘rules’ but at the same time handling items they could and treating them with respect.

 
 
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The Dungeons

There are lots of nooks and crannies at Chirk (and stairs!) to discover all sorts of fun things from history. 

After a long walk down these stairs, you come to the dungeons. Be aware though, I saw several (naughty and wicked!) people practically running down  getting them quickly, hiding round the corner and shouting BOO! on their friends and families.  

“We continued our road trip  in that week by visiting  the glorious Powis Castle. It was lush!! (AKA; Gavin and Stacey!) with fabulous views and absolutely breathtaking.”

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Powis Castle in all its beauty  

However, in stark contrast I felt incredibly uncomfortable walking or even breathing near any the pieces. 

All around us there were warnings that said; Do not touch, take photographs or sit on or near the precious objects. They even had staff in every room. I think it was nice that the staff could tell us about the history of the castle, but I also think they were partly there to make sure people weren’t taking photos or touching the objects.

 

Whilst I fully uphold the need to preserve valuable items of historical value for everyone and for future generations to enjoy, perhaps the management of Powis Castle could take a ‘leaf’ out of the Chirk Castle book? (Pardon the pun!)

 

Cut down on the labels and the amount of staff eyeing people up at every turn.

 

On a clear day at Powis Castle and in the gardens, you can see some spectacular views

 

Don’t get me wrong, Powis Castle is a splendid castle celebrating Welsh greatness too and I certainly wouldn’t want an interactive experience that spoils the beauty of such a place. 

 

But at least credit your visitors with a bit of sense not to manhandle the goods!

 

One of the highlights at Powis Castle that made me smile a great deal, was the  peacocks that roam the gardens. 

 

They all seemed to be cock-a-hoop (sorry, another pun!) in their environment, strutting about much more confidently than us visitors. 

 
 

I’m the daddy round here!


But then again could it be because one of them had recently become a new parent? 

 

 

It was absolutely wonderful to see a  peahen had recently given birth. People gathered around them excitedly to see her taking the babies for a drink; just nurturing  and doing what mothers do best. 

 

Castle number three I visited, was NOT in Wales..?!

 

 

 

It was Whittington Castle. Technically it’s near Oswestry in Shropshire, England. But it’s steeped in Welsh history, so it’s close (very close) to North Wales.

 

In fact there was literally a sign that we passed to show when we entered “England” to get there and then back to Wales to our holiday home, so it was a visit that had to be done!

 

 

Initially when you first see the castle from the front, you think you are about to view a castle that is structurally complete in its entirety…  

 

 
20160824_163241.jpg A fantastic view from one of the turrets at Whittington Castle

 

But it is in fact the remains of the castle ruins. The residents in Oswestry proudly look after the castle with funding. The area surrounding the castle boasts a quaint little cafe and for a pound a day in parking, how can you not like this place!

It has some spectacular views AND I was dead chuffed to see the clear blue skies above as I took these pictures because it was really bumpy underfoot with lots of tricky steps that could have been a bit treacherous climbing in the rain!

I loved visiting North Wales and ‘England’ a great deal.

I did see some wonderful views that weren’t just situated near castles. But castles were so memorable, that I wanted to write about it.

The people were really friendly too. I walked a lot of miles up and down some wonderful castles, that had most of time REALLY steep stairs! I felt enormously fit afterwards and would definitely do it all again!

 

 

Copyright: SJS 2016

How to survive the 30 Day Hot Yoga Challenge: 5 Tips

Get hot on the floor!

Some weeks had passed since beginning this hot yoga malarkey that is Bikram yoga. I hadn’t ditched it for something else, which for me meant I was going to stay with it for a while. 

Then something happened. Perhaps the heat had begun to pickle my brain, but I was convinced by the lovely woman on the front desk to sign up for a 30 day yoga challenge.

What is a 30 Day Challenge?

This is when for 30 days you pitch up and burn up; EVERYDAY!

A lot of hot yoga studios do them as a way to get you to start honing in on your craft in finer detail. On that note; here is tip number one.

Tip 1: WAIT!

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I know this sounds contradictory, but wait. Try not to sign up for a Hot Yoga challenge like this until you’ve got a couple of classes under your belt. If you don’t know what to expect in a class, you may set yourself up fail. Try to look out for open days or special offers such as Groupon offering free lessons or sessions at discounted prices.

Check out this link for a discounted hot yoga session:

https://www.groupon.co.uk/deals/fitness-fusions-11

And this link is a hot yoga studio called HOT YOGA SOUTH that I often use in Balham, London. They have open days where you can do a FREE hot yoga session.

http://hotyogasouth.com/

So, I began my 30 day sweat fest with gusto. I felt like the Uma Thurman character in Kill Bill 2, who was attentive, dedicated and determined to take on everything the sensei threw at her!

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I tried really hard to be a good student. Pitching up to sweat it out big style, wasn’t easy. It was like I was a broken dripping tap in need of fixing and desperate to absorb every piece of knowledge my ‘sensei’ (or rather my Bikram Yoga  Teachers) imparted on me in a quest to get through the next 30 days.

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I loved feeling that the sweating was doing me some good. But I wasn’t at all as elegant as this when holding postures! 

… But very soon I began to feel weary and extremely tired, realising I couldn’t keep up with what others in the class were doing. Their progress seemed more rapid than mine. It made me feel extremely despondent…

… But by about week two, I was almost able to get through a whole class without keeling over!

Tip 2: Don’t compare yourself to others, it will be your downfall.

There will be plenty of people in a class who have lots of differing experiences, injuries or reasons why they are doing hot yoga. Some will have been going for years, some who will be there for the first time; or even some coming back to  yoga after a break. However you shouldn’t use anyone as your template on how things should be done in a class, instead follow the teacher and listen to the dialogue. Most yoga instructors are astute enough to see if you’re not quite there on a posture and will give you the correct guidance on HOW TO MAKE A POSTURE WORK FOR YOU

The Lesser spotted BGDY!

During my 30 day challenge, I encountered a kind of fist bump moment when I saw another BGDY (Black Girl Doing Yoga). She was a first timer that day and before the class began she had to get up to move towards the last two rows in the studio.

Now, anyone who knows their black history would have felt a bit funny when asked to move to the back. Thoughts of Rosa Parks not being allowed to sit at the front of a bus comes mind, but this woman dealt with the newbie thing with great aplomb!  

No one had told her the front rows are for people who have been coming for a while. They say it’s so that you can follow them as a guide on how to do the postures correctly. I think it’s more reserved for the ‘show-offs’ who like to wriggle their bottoms in front of you in a way that says; I’m bendier than you”.

I don’t see why you can’t sit anywhere, especially as our greatest examples at the front can have days when they’ve been some of the worst yogis I’ve ever seen, stumbling around like some drunk in need of a drink on the front row. 

However this woman proceeded over to the back row, in such a cool way that only a way a BGDY could pull off; that was to kiss her teeth, swing her mat over her shoulder and as she turned around, she swiped the whole of the front row with her mat on their heads; teacher included!   

As she glided past, we both nodded to each other and in acknowledgement of her ‘high five’ moment of celebration. 

giphy (3)

Tip 3:  YOU are the best guide to KNOW if your session is working or not.

I’ve since then thought about the absurdity of this stupid protocol of following the people in the front row and I soon realised that the best person to look at in a hot yoga session is yourself.

It tells you a lot about how you’re coping within a position. It’s ALSO easier to follow the class anyway usually from any angle or point in a studio because there’s always so many flipping mirrors everywhere! 

Tip 4: Hair frizz = Get some cover, FAST!!

A 30 day challenge in maths terms equates to four weeks and two days of big time hair frizz! If you want to avoid the frizz or the flapping about of sweaty hair in your face then; wear a scarf to try to absorb some of the sweat.

Have a look at this link for some more tips: http://www.blackwomenshealth.com/blog/workout-stay-fit-and-still-have-great-healthy-hair/

Make you don’t go for a cotton scarf though. For the same reason a cotton top or leggings WILL completely saturate sweat, so will a cotton headscarf.  

stock-vector-crying-baby-girl-crying-small-child-vector-cartoon-illustration-of-cute-crying-baby-girl-518569871And Another thing…I know it’s tempting but try not to wash your hair in the yoga studio showers. I did this once at my peril and I nearly ended up crying when my hair became so knotted due to the water pressure being so poor!  

Tip 5:

If you’re doing Bikram Yoga, the breathing you do is through your nose, except for the warm up and at the end. It’s CRUCIAL that you try and learn how to do this type of breathing, rather than opening your mouth. Keep your eyes open too. If you try to breathe in a different way to how you are instructed, you may find you will use up excess energy and feel dizzy as a result. 

If at any at stage in a hot yoga session you are overwhelmed by the heat, lie down rather than trying to bolt out of the studio. It’s harder to come back in if you leave and the heat will seem worse. I’ve learnt this from the instructors and (SO FAR!!) I’ve never had to run in fear of it all.

For energy before, during and after a session it’s important to drink plenty of water. I also find if I drop an electrolyte tablet into my water bottle helps to replace lost salts from sweating. These are the ones they use a lot in most yoga studios.

http://totalhydration.uk/high5-zero-electrolyte-drinks-tablets-20-tablets-per-tube/

Finally:

If you don’t manage to complete the whole 30 Days, it’s not the end of the world. The fact that you’ve started your yoga journey is the most important thing and the first step towards a calmer, flexible and more braver you.  

Namaste!

SjSx

 

Copyright: SJS 2016

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Hot Yoga: Are you up for it?

Just an ordinary Black Girl Doing Hot Yoga (Thoughts from a Black Girl’s Diary)

This blog is about yoga & in particular Bikram Yoga, the yoga I prefer to do. But it won’t just contain pictures of enormously bendy women or men practising their Triangle Poses, in a setting that looks like Nirvana. Nor, will it go in the opposite direction to focus solely on the larger lady or man practising yoga either. Both have their equal place in the yoga world & I’m not knocking that.

It’s about me; an ordinary BGDB (Black Girl Doing Bikram) & (sometimes the guys!) that find ourselves taking a step to drip the sweat.

I’m unfortunately (still) a rare breed in an almost elitist milieu; a black, slightly chubby, middle-aged woman. I was brought up on a council estate in South London & at 5ft 2 inches; I’m a real shorty. Hardly anything like the girls (& guys) I Bikram with, who are often ‘Made in Chelsea’, upper class to middle class & TBYB’s (Typically Bony Yoga Bunnies). Boo hoo…NOT!!!!

So, why did I choose Bikram (Hot Yoga)?

I’ve done many different types of yoga over the years & after a class I would be thinking, ‘That was a load of pretentious rubbish!’

“I don’t like the idea of suffering to do yoga.”

There’s always been a feeling in these places that you have be dedicated to the point of having to chomp on Quinoa all the time in a bid to ‘Cut the Carbs!’ or chant until enlightenment drops in your lap; or have a fair bit of money to fund your trendy, cool habit. Throw in a heady mix of TBYB’s, a posh studio in the heart of Wimbledon or Richmond and you’re almost there. You know the type of person I’m talking about? She’s called ‘Annabelle’, talks loudly ‘Yah, Yahing’ in the changing rooms & on her top of the range iphone about going on retreats to find herself in the South of France. (Very Ab Fab!) Stereotyping? Yes I am, but for real! These are mostly the people I encounter on my yoga travels.

Originally, I’ve always felt that yoga is just not for me. After all, I’m a black woman who regularly uses a relaxer to straighten her hair! Us gals don’t deal with the frizz thing. In fact I fear the wrath of my hairdresser if she saw the state my hair gets into after a 40 degree rinse in a sweat drenched studio, almost as much as I fear the West Indian tones of my mum cussing me out when she disapproves of anything I do!

My Bikram experience began in a familiar way that many encounter this strange type of yoga; after an injury. I had the unfortunate luck to have been injured at work. It left me with the mental injury of depression & anxiety, while the physical injury gave me torn ligaments in my shoulder & right thumb.

I needed something fast. The pain killers had stopped working, the physio was not free anymore (The NHS had written me off) & I was paying for a physiotherapist who was almost on the brink of writing me off too.

“Why don’t you try Bikram yoga? The heat might help.” I laughed at his ridiculous suggestion!

“How could bending yourself into inane positions help to heal torn ligaments? More to the point; what the bloody hell is Bikram Yoga anyway?”

That evening I decided to part from my physiotherapist. Although I had around 20 sessions with him, I still felt like a doll that had only been partially fixed. I couldn’t afford to go anymore. There had to be something else. I Googled Bikram Yoga on my laptop. I was feeling broke (literally) and incredibly depressed.

My First Class

You will always remember your first time. Mine was with a teacher called Mel who had a smile to match her temperament.

“We were all packed sardine-like into a reasonably sized studio. (Sorry about the Top Gear reference!)”

I tried to ‘style it out’ & pretend I was a regular, rolling out my own mat (Not using theirs) & towel whilst lying casually on the floor. But then she said the words that point you out as being different from the start. 

“Anyone here for the first time?”

Tentatively I raised my hand in the air. There were several of us newbie’s in that night & we were all cheerily told to take it easy. I didn’t really notice the heat much in that 90 minute cook up, but I did notice that I was the only BGDB in the room.

Over to you!!

Are you a person that does yoga? Or even an ordinary Black Girl Doing Bikram Yoga too? I want to hear from you all!

Let me know what you think of my thoughts.

Namaste!!

SjS X