I mentioned a while back that I’d been going to a physio to deal with the ravages of age combined with being kicked around a football pitch. It turned out that it was nothing to do with age and everything to do with me having no flexibility at all. I started spending time every day stretching and noticed a dramatic improvement in recovery times after games and improved movement during them. But then my physio started nagging me to try yoga and how it would be perfectly suited to me and I’d be crazy not to at least give it a go. So I did. And to show I was serious I actually cut back on a game of football a week to go to yoga instead.
Like many men I thought that yoga was just a bunch of attractive women in a room bending themselves into different positions, showing how flexible they were and that I’d find it pretty easy and relaxing. I was right about the first part, however completely wrong about the second.
I started going to an Iyengar Yoga class weekly and found, much to my surprise, that I rather enjoyed it. The first thing I was wrong about was it being relaxing and easy – I quickly learned that some of the sessions can be really hard work. Holding positions for periods of time that require quite a lot of strength it turned out I didn’t have meant I was sweating in no time. However after every session I’ve come out feeling great, relaxed and really glad I listened to my physio! Since yoga concentrates on good posture and doing the positions correctly I’ve found it a lot more useful than just doing stretching on my own – having an instructor really helps to make sure you’re getting the best out of it.
My middle back (which has always been stiff and inflexible) is starting to actually have movement in it, my endlessly tight hamstrings are gradually loosening and a lot of aches and pains I was living with from playing football are no longer there. In fact my footballing has definitely improved as my movement is better, my flexibility is improved and my recovery after playing is a lot better even than when I was stretching daily (no more hobbling around for days after a match). Heck, I even bought my own gear so I can practise at home:
While just doing stretching can be a bit tedious and easy to give up after a while, yoga’s one of these things you can spend a lifetime getting better at and while there are some things I can do, there are many I’m awful at. However the motivation to improve and feeling myself improve (albeit slowly) makes me keep coming back for more.
The one thing I was right about was the room full of attractive women. But while I was worried I might find it incredibly distracting it turns out that you lose yourself in what you’re doing so don’t have time to ogle the ladies (and that’s the line I’m sticking to!). Plus a few men go and they’re definitely not my type!
So while the last time I recommended going to a physio and doing flexibility work, this time I’d definitely recommend trying yoga whether you’re male, female, an athlete, a couch potato, old or young. Give it a go, you won’t regret it! And don’t be scared, I guarantee you won’t be as terrible at it as I am! 🙂