Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The power of yoga

I started cycling as a quick means of getting to work (30 mins by bike vs a laborious 60 mins by tube). And then I found myself agreeing to cycle to Paris. Eek. This meant a brave new world of Long Rides. Training. Nutrition. And whilst I loved being able to get places under my own steam and I loved getting fit, I did not love this new world of aches and pains. Sore knees. Sore back. Sore neck. Grr.

And then one day, on Minx, I found a marvellous DVD. Yoga? I thought. Isn't this just wafting about and humming omm for emaciated women who've nothing better to do? Minx said not. So I bought the DVD. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I then stood in my living room feeling like a clumsy prat, trying to copy the moves of the surprisingly normal-looking instructor. The next day, to my surprise, I found was considerably less sore than I would usually be on a Monday (no John Wayne stride that week). And so I stuck with it, every Sunday afternoon, frequently waking up several hours later having fallen asleep on my yoga mat.

Eventually, of course, watching the same video over and over gets a little dull and I felt brave enough to attempt an actual course. And I lucked out. I started going to yoga classes taught by the absolutely awesome Naz. She's smiley, fun, enthusiastic and not at all judgemental. I forgot that I weigh about 20kg more than she does and just set about trying to be the best I can be. I come home smiling after yoga, I sleep better after yoga. and I even seem to have biceps and triceps, for the first time in years.

All this is good, of course, except that instead of it being an adjunct to my cycling, it now appeals more than cycling. Riding round the same old roads with busy, aggressive traffic in the cold and wet or an ordered, tranquil, tiring yet stress-free hour and a half in a church hall? Yoga seems to win more often than not.

I think this is partly because, despite an average of 13 hours training a week, for six months, I was still pretty mediocre at cycling. A lot of effort, pain, exhaustion and stress to be only mediocre at something is not very motivational. So I'm going to steer away from competitive cycling and focus instead on the lovely parts of cycling. The scenery, the fresh air, friends. And of course cake. Let's see how that pans out.

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