Lead better life with a stretch

CATHERINE RICHARDS thought she was fit, until she tried a course of eight yoga sessions as a guinea pig for a

report in The Herald – and discovered she was about as

elastic as a plank.

I WAS asked to go and do eight sessions at the Heal.Love.Yoga studio in Greenshields Park. No sweat. I can run 10km and I endure hectic spinning classes so this would be a piece of cake.

But 10 minutes into my first beginners’ class, I was singing a different tune. "I would rather do 10 hours of spinning than this,” were my thoughts as I struggled into the supposedly relaxing pose of downward dog.

How could I be as fit as I am and not hold a simple pose without breaking into a sweat? And to make it worse, I physically looked like one of the fittest people in the class. But you would never say so by the way I was falling around. I was also the only person in the class who could not touch her toes or straighten her legs.

So yoga is not just going "ommmmmmmmmm” and sleeping on the mat.

My instructor, Tanya Kemp, 35, whose love affair with yoga started about eight years ago on a Wii board, is very encouraging and identified my problems almost immediately.

She said that my 20-odd years of playing sport and spinning had shortened my hamstrings, causing the muscles in my back, legs and arms to be very tight. And working behind a computer solidly for eight hours, five times a week at The Herald does not help.

The only way to combat this and to get better at yoga is to stretch (I hate stretching) and to practise yoga.

Tanya suggested I try the back therapy classes before I return to the beginners’ class.

That class has changed my life. It is a much slower class than the beginners’ class and it focuses entirely on my problem areas.

After my first session, I felt a bit taller, stronger and more aware of my posture. She also gave me wonderful stretching ideas to do at home.

My second session went even better. I could stretch my legs out a bit further and do the positions a bit more comfortably.

The more I did the back classes, the more flexible and confident I became.

It also helps that Tanya gets just as excited as I do when I am able to straighten out my leg a bit more than the last time.

This class has become a way of life for me now and I realise that stretching is going to have to become part of my regular exercise routine.

I still struggle in the beginners’ class but I am a lot better than my first class (no more falling) and I can do more than I could a few weeks ago.

And I am a few centimetres closer to touching my toes!

  • For schedules and prices, contact Tanya on 076-602-9687.