That’s ok

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A panda doing yoga…obviously. courtesy of Desibucket

In some sports and activities you’re actively encouraged to compare yourself to other people, keep a close eye on the ‘competition’, be better than them and then it’s that which drives you and which pushes you to be better.

When I was younger I used to feel jealous (eugh such an ugly word) about so many things – both stupidly small and horribly big and I’ve spent years quietly and sometimes not so quietly battling my own world of self doubt about myself – my body mainly and constantly wishing and wanting to look the way others do and be able to do as others do. As I’ve got older I’m slowly (like a half dead snail kind of slow) learning to overcome this, but comparison is not a healthy tool for me – it doesn’t encourage me, it doesn’t help me strive to be better, it just makes me feel worse.

When I first started taking yoga seriously and going more than once every blue moon, I instantly began comparing myself to everyone else, with no idea where they were on their journey, how long they’d been doing yoga for or what makes up their bodies, how their particular bones, muscles and joints work. All I saw around me were yogi’s touching their toes, standing on their heads or deep in meditation and I instantly began to berate myself – i can barely touch my toes, i get dizzy and want to throw up if i try to stand on my head and whenever i try to meditate i fall asleep (hence why shavasana is and will always be my favourite part of my practice).

I even wrote in my first blog post here to give it time and I’ll be just as good as those beautiful Lululemon wearing yogi warriors.

In my first class at Putney’s The House of Yoga, I had a teacher, Monika, who reminded everyone to not judge yourself, that where you are in your practice that morning is exactly where you’re supposed to be, so if your downward dog feels a little different to last time, that’s ok – if your heels aren’t quite touching the mat – that’s ok, they might get there one day or they might not. Your body just might not be made that way.

And as the weeks have gone on I’ve realised she’s right. I have some days where i flow through sequences and can find peace and balance in my practice, feel all at one and very zen like and then there are days where I’m jumping about like an elephant, shaking like a leaf and feeling like my heels will never ever in a million years touch that sodding mat. These feelings happen from one day to the next and I just have to accept that at this stage in my journey I’m still finding my feet, I’m still learning how my body works and responds to the strain of half pigeon (not well…not well at all) and the many other poses I find myself in.

I had a class again this morning with Monika and she got us to do a sequence or two with our eyes closed, so that we could all do cat and cow and wave our bums about in the air without fear of any judgement from anyone and it was glorious – for a few seconds i  waved my bum in every direction and forgot to care about what I looked like, what other people might think and whether my bum looked like that of the girl next to me!

So, not only have I realised that I have to stop comparing myself to others, I have to stop comparing myself to myself, stop judging and start being nicer to myself – every time i compare myself to anything it’s the equivalent of giving myself a tiny punch on the arm – if i keep comparing and keep punching eventually that shit’s going to hurt, quite unnecessarily so. And that’s just NOT ok.

From dabbling to doing…

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I’m not like many of the other yogi’s in the room. They all seem to pull off that effortlessly chic/hippy/boho/zen look as they fold their legs behind their ears and here I am with my primark sports bra and my yoga mat from TK Maxx. I don’t even know if i really can be classed as a yogi because a) isn’t a yogi a man? Isn’t there another name for a lady who does yoga? And b) at what point do you stop doing yoga/going to a yoga class and become a yogi/female equivalent, someone who encompasses everything that yoga is? Oh and c) i can barely touch my toes, there are arthritic 84 year olds out there with better flexibility than me, but here I am rolling out my mat and getting down to business.

Hi, I’m Amy, I am a recent member of the dirty thirty club and I am here to let yoga change my life. *Said in manner of an AA meeting member.

I’ve dabbled in the art of yoga on and off for some time and I even went to an all singing all dancing vegan digital detox yoga retreat in Cambodia, ran by an American hippy called Joel – there wasn’t actually singing, although there was chanting and there wasn’t exactly dancing – although there was a movement ‘dance’ session one night, but that’s not the point. What i mean is that this was an all out yoga experience. It was really tough but i loved it and it bought a certain calmness to my life, a level of zen if you will. I then went on to travel the rest of SE Asia and sort of left that zen behind for 5 months of debauchery on the beaches and when i came home I vowed to start up again, to renew that sense of calm and to touch my toes.

Because I need a bit of calm in my life. I currently sit in sometimes up to 4 hours of traffic a day getting to and from my day job as a Marketing Manager and I’ve also just recently started a Masters whilst doing my full time job and also trying to keep some presence of normality in my life (read: going to the pub and getting sh*tfaced on the regular with my friends) so there’s a fair amount going on and I’m not the best at handling stress. Stress has a very physical effect on me – it literally breaks out on my face, my chest and makes me really ill in the stomach region. No one needs that in their life if it can be helped.

And it can be helped – yoga does that for me. I leave each class feeling so much lighter, my shoulders don’t sit by my ears and my head just feels clearer, I have a certain clarity that wasn’t there before the class started.

So I’ve paid a membership to an amazing little yoga studio in Putney – The House of Yoga and quite frankly I can’t get enough, so i thought this blog would be a great place for me to document my journey with yoga – sharing both the physical and mental with you as I go along.

I’ll take some progress pictures – not of my stomach or arms or anything, GOD NO, but of my downward dogging and the pose which is the absolute bane of my life – pigeon and hopefully in a few months time I’ll be just like those beautiful, effortless yogi’s in my class and my legs too will be touching my ears…

**A YOGINI…a lady who does yoga is called a YOGINI!!!