Janathon day seven: back to basics

Today was a bit action-packed, well as action-packed as we get at the moment. We managed to make it nearly on time for the mother and baby thing that we go to (by nearly on time, I mean that it was nearer to the start time than it was to the end time…), scooted home, walked up to the doctors’ surgery, had jabs done, came home for food and cuddles, went to Tesco (Mini-Ginge travelling in his sling, more to satisfy my need for trauma-related cuddles than anything), came home, had more food and cuddles and at 7.30ish, I hared out of the door to go to my first proper yoga class for nearly six months.

Phew.

It was lovely to get back to yoga, if only because it is a tiny sliver of normality for me. I’ve learnt that when you stop doing your normal activities that define you (for me that includes work, knitting, running, sitting around the house with no greater plan than sitting) and take on one defining role (mum) it can be a bit, well, overwhelming. So getting back on the mat felt like an important step. I’m not sure what it’s a step towards, but it’s a step.

As it was the first class back and the opening session of a new course, our teacher took us back to basics and invited us to go into it with “a beginner’s mind”. She advised us that we should have no expectations about our bodies and their capabilities, and that having expectations often led to frustrations when things don’t go according to plan. It was as if she had written the introduction with me in mind. I keep comparing my relatively fit, strong, healthy pre-baby body with what I have now. If I look at it from my usual perspective, it’s not as good as it used to be. If I look at it with the eyes that my teacher wanted, I still have a relatively fit, strong, healthy body, I just have to rediscover what it can do if I ask it.

Physio exercises 6/7

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Juneathon day eleven: warrior

Once again I awoke bright and early, before my Athon alarm (yes, I really have such a thing set up on my phone) had chance to sound. However, unlike last week, this morning was not a leaping out of bed kind of day. Instead, I let myself be swaddled by the warm milkiness of the state that exists between awake and dreaming. I did dream about going to the gym, but I had no kit and had to go shopping on the way, only to get distracted by a short corduroy skirt from the Jamie Oliver Birdwatching range (even in my dream I recognised that this was unlikely to be a real actual thing).

So today’s exercise has been yoga, where we continued to work on maintaining our cores and engaging our pelvic floors, whilst doing some lovely strong leg work and finishing off with a nicely aligned warrior pose. During the relaxation at the end I nearly returned to my dreaming as I let my bones grow heavy, but was spared the embarrassment of waking myself up with a snore.

Perhaps I should have been meditating on the cruel irony that, of all the beers that Ginge bought at the weekend, the one he said that I would like the best was this one…

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Janathon day twenty-three: socks

Last night I declared that I always sleep badly the night before an early run. It turns out that poor sleep is an essential part of me getting up at 5.30 – I went to bed in plenty of time and slept well, so well in fact that I slept straight through my first alarm… The next alarm went off at 6, which is when Miles and I should be already out hitting the pavements. Ooops.

This meant I had to squeeze in a quick three miles after work so I would have time to stuff my face before yoga. Some people might have you believe that yoga isn’t proper exercise, but my legs would tell you differently. Throughout the class I took heed of my teacher’s words and took a curious interest in what my body was telling me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hear most of my limbs for my legs yelling “will you just sod off and leave me alone” before they stomped off, slamming their bedroom door behind them.

The class itself though paled into insignificance against my greatest achievement this year… I WAS WEARING MY HAND KNITTED SOCKS.

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I have finished the eternal socks that have lived with me, travelled the world with me and sat in the pub with me for two years. And I think that they’re rather splendid.

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The toe seams leave a little bit to be desired, but other than that they make me very happy.

Janathon day ten: stretched

Regular readers may remember that Wednesday night is yoga night. I’ve never used yoga as an Athon activity because it feels like cheating seeing as I normally do it anyway (having said that, it’s nice to have in the bag for an emergency) but recently I’ve had to have a few months off because work was getting in the way of life again.

I would love to pass myself off as a swishy-haired, glossy looking, serene yoga bunny, but too many people have met me for me to be able to get away with that. Wednesday nights currently see me in emergency yoga kit (an old pair of running tights and a Carter USM t-shirt) after I discovered (five minutes before going back to my first class, of course) that my usual leggings had thinned somewhat and my downward facing dog was showing off a clear outline of Marks and Sparks’ finest…

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There were two weeks back on the mat before Christmas and last night was the first session after a two-week festive break.  I was hoping for a chance to give my poor Janathon-worn legs a lovely relaxing stretch. Fat chance. Our teacher went back to basics with form and posture and what I actually got was a really good strong leg session; I have spent today increasingly feeling like someone has set about my thighs with a lump hammer.

When I was putting on my warm layers for our nap at the end relaxation, I realised that running every day during Janathon is taking its toll. Nothing to do with sore limbs, merely the fact that I checked my socks for L and R as I put them on…

Anyway, that was yesterday. Today’s run had the promise of company, only for vanity to snatch that promise away (Ginge forgot that he was off to have his hair cut). My routes around the village are wearing a bit thin so we came up with an idea to vary things a little. A bit like the shop and drop of the other night, this time Ginge drove off into town while I ran after him (I couldn’t keep up) – in competition with JogBlog’s punning today, he has christened this a ‘Cass and carry’.

Redefining my body

Regular readers (hello both of you) will know that Wednesday night is yoga night and tonight was indeed that.

We spent most of the session doing quads work to build up to doing a bridge posture in three increasingly strong positions. I say three, it was actually four. The fourth version had us all gathered around our teacher, marvelling at how amazing the human body can be and returning to our mats with the intention of doing any version but that one. It was not to be. “You can manage that”, she said to me, “get two blocks and have a go…”. Unconvinced, I followed her instructions and up I went. My arms went a bit wobbly, so down I came. After a minute to recover, I went for it again… Up I went, no wobbles, strong arms, strong legs and very proud of myself.

Apparently I looked shocked. This had something to with the fact that  I was shocked. My explanation for this was that I didn’t expect to be able to do it because I have pathetically weak arms. “No you don’t” she said, “you have strong arms. Redefine your arms!”.

Many of us run the risk of being defined by our own perceptions of ourselves – you know the sort of thing: I don’t do hills… I’m a slow runner… I’m not a racer…  It’s only when someone challenges us (or we challenge ourselves) that we realise that we can be something else.

I am redefining my body every time I run.