I had my yoga epiphany just after I had decided that it definitely wasn’t for me.
I was on the roof terrace of an ultra-hip Alpine hotel, attempting to do yoga alongside a group of gorgeous, cool, twenty-something athletes. There was an Olympic gold-medallist here, a World Champion there. And then there was me. At least twice their age, stiff as a board, wearing all the wrong clothes. I couldn’t even touch my toes, while they were casually arranging themselves into human pretzels.
It was ridiculous. I was ridiculous. No wonder the photographer made sure I wasn’t in shot (you can just about see my foot if you look carefully).
Consumed with embarrassment, I swore I would avoid yoga for the rest of my life. But no sooner had I finished that thought than I realised how wrong it was. The truth was that I actually needed yoga far more than these lithe beauties with their stretchy limbs and flexible backs.
If yoga is for anybody, it’s for the terminally hunched, the desk-bound, the stiff and the stressed. It will ease the tension, stretch out those spasming muscles, calm the frantic mind.
Admittedly, it won’t happen overnight. I have been practising regularly for a couple of months now and I am many years – maybe a lifetime or longer – away from the pretzel stage. I’m only millimetres closer to my toes than I was on that rooftop. But the benefits go beyond being stretchy. Yoga makes me calmer and less inclined to freak out about little things. I think it is helping to keep injury at bay. And although I don’t have an Alpine rooftop at my disposal every week, I do get to do my yoga in a village hall with sheep gazing through the window.
So what about you? Are you thinking you might be too old or too stiff or too uncool to do yoga? If you are, I’d ask you to think again. Why not join me in my efforts? You can cheer me on when I finally get my head to touch my knees, and I’ll encourage you if you fall over when you try the tree position (I usually do). As you’ll see from the pictures below, my yoga is a big work in progress.
There’s no judgment here and no demoralising yoga fitspo. Just a very unstretchy person trying to get a little bit more flexible in body and mind. And trying not to fall over.