Time to Change Challenge no.82 on my list of 100 (and the 78th to be attempted) was “to put my old aching body through a yoga session”. Strictly speaking, I completed the challenge and a bit more this morning, when I was given an introduction to both yoga and Pilates by Vicky Rees at Studio 21 on Yarm High Street.
Although Vicky and I have known each other for quite a while, I was still nervous at the prospect of what would be a totally new experience. To say my body is a wreck would be a bit of an understatement, and I was concerned that my hips, back or pretty much any other part of me would wave the white flag at some point during the other session.
The other reason was that the last time Vicky had been part of one of my challenges, it was as a team mate in my farewell netball performance. Vicky is Grangetown Netball Club captain, and there is a photo of Vicky jogging past me during the game with a huge grin on her face—caused no doubt, by another failed attempted interception.
And if she thought my efforts on the netball court were funny…!
But I needn’t have worried.
Vicky had prepared a plan for me in advance, but before getting underway, I completed a health questionnaire and we discussed the highlighted areas of concern (of which there were many); and throughout the session, Vicky was always able to adapt aspects of the positions and exercises to suit my own mobility.
The session began with work on my posture and some basic yoga stretches, before a series of exercises on the Pilates reformer, and some breathing techniques to finish.
Everything was fully explained and demonstrated—and I now have a couple of exercises to practice that will hopefully help with my lifelong round-shouldered posture, and strengthen my back. I found the stretching quite difficult… and surprisingly tiring. It’s not that long since I completed a three-hour indoor row, but I was clearly using different muscles on the mat, and I won’t deny that it was hard work—thankfully Vicky kept a close eye on how I was doing, and made sure everything was done at a pace and level to suit me.
The Pilates reformer looks like an ancient instrument of torture, but I actually enjoyed the various exercises; although there was a slight moment of panic when Vicky heard a “grating” noise in my ankle when I did the Achilles tendon stretch. Something to add as a P.S. to the health questionnaire!
Just for the record, Pilates was invented by a German named Joseph Pilates—whereas I believe yoga was created by a smarter than average inhabitant of Jellystone Park….
During the closing breathing techniques, Vicky told me to focus on any areas of my body that were aching—amazingly there were none, and I found myself feeling totally relaxed; something I hadn’t expected, but it was a lovely sensation.
Vicky was fantastic and the whole session was tailored to my own capabilities. She gave me a lot of really good advice, made sure I worked hard, and limits were steadily pushed in a controlled way that made me feel totally comfortable.
A number of people have told me of the benefits of Pilates and yoga; I must admit I wasn’t sure whether it would help someone of rapidly advancing years and limited flexibility, but it was a really positive experience from start to finish.
Many people will have started 2017 with renewed resolve and determination; and if you happen to live in our around Teesside and are (or know someone who is) thinking about trying a new form of exercise (as part of a class, or one-to-one), in pleasant surroundings with an excellent instructor… then please click the link below and learn a bit more about Studio 21.
I’m going to practice improving my posture now. Thanks Vicky; this was a brilliant Time to Change challenge.
Richard... Jack of some trades... you can guess the rest