|"Mind, body, and soul"|
I’m standing in the centre of a studio gym I know all too well, arched into a position I believed impossible to imagine; let alone achieve. My bare feet lie flat on the floor as my sixty-degree knees space a meter apart; leaving me crouching like a crab, trying to rid his system of excess waste. All the while, as I try to remain focused on slow, deep breathing, my upper body arches to a deep right, as I attempt to connect my hands on either side between my legs. I am in the middle of a contortionists dream - also known as a yoga class, and all I feel is pain; intense, beautiful, pain…
As a hardened veteran to the world of fitness, you become accustomed to the mishmash of obscure and outstanding training routines, which surround you on a regular basis. A veritable cauldron of men stacking heavy weights at all hours, youngsters roided up to the eyeballs; seemingly unaware or concerned about the long-term implications of injecting unnatural substances in their arse, those who barely step on a treadmill, those who barely step off one, and everything in-between. Gyms the world over contain the good, the bad, and the downright bizarre. Regardless of how an individual trains however, the rules are simple; weights exist to tighten, strengthen or grow a muscle through contraction, and cardiovascular exercise exists to improve circulation, and shed the body of excess fat; as true now, as it was in the Stone Age.
While cardiovascular exercise and weight training are valuable disciplines in their own right - and work to improve fitness. Due to the manner in which they target a specific goal, they cannot rely as solely providing a full body workout; necessary to maintain regulation in all its forms, as much as progressively slow the inevitable ageing process. This is where yoga comes in; in my case, Hatha yoga - a form which works through physical and mental strength building. While it may appear a simple case of stretching in awkward angles for an hour or so, the reality is far from it. Yoga is hard work – very hard work. A strong level of focus is required in order to both achieve and maintain the positions in a single class. Yoga forces the mind and body to act as one for a set period of time; eventually leading you on a journey closer to your spiritual centre - leaving you cool, calm, and collected. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself – when was the last time you met a yoga teacher who wasn’t positive, full of life, and able to bend into some ridiculously funky positions?
|"How it (kinda) looks"|
Beyond all this, the many benefits of yoga include the improvement of brain and heart function, lowering of anxiety and blood pressure, an aid to sexual function and balance, ridding the body of aches and pains, and in general, leaving you feeling alert and alive. While other exercises manage to help attain all these aims, only yoga can lay claim to achieving all, in one single class? As hard as it is, the reward far outweighs the effort; and lets face it, who doesn't want to be a stress-free sex-machine, who can easily balance on one leg!
Yoga is arguably the biggest open secret in health and fitness. Without it, footballer Ryan Giggs would struggle to play at the highest level in his fourties, a 55-year-old Madonna would barely reach the stage she moves like a cat upon with such ease, and I wouldn’t be sitting here with legs aching like they have just walked 50 miles straight. For anyone reading this, I suggest finding your nearest Yoga class, and giving it a try. It will hurt like hell, ache even more so, but each session will leave you feeling ten years younger - mentally and physically, in only a short while.
It will also help in writing an article like this from first word to final edit, in barely over one hour…
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