Throughout my whole life I’ve always been a jock who’s played almost every sport you could think of inside and outside of school. Always playing team sports (basketball, field hockey, soccer, etc), tennis, cardio-kickboxing, or swimming, you would never catch me doing pilates or yoga.
I always had a negative connotation with yoga (mostly learned through biased television, movies, or friends) thinking only hippies or wimps who can’t play sports participated in the activity. And just the thought of sitting there, stretching, and doing nothing? Why would I want to do that? I like fast-paced action working with my strength, power and quickness. Yoga? Pfft. Lame.
Approximately seven years ago, in my senior year of high school, I had two injuries that minutely changed my life.
The first was a sprained knee during one of the most important basketball games of the season. The biggest mistake I did was returning to play after only 10 minutes of resting on the bench. My team needed me. I was still hurting, but I wasn’t going to let them down. Aspiring to be a physiotherapist, currently, I now know that that was a big no-no. What I got was an MCL tear (which is less common that an ACL tear). Not only that, but I got what physios call the “unhappy triad”. That happens when the MCL, the ACL, and the medial meniscus (cartilage) is damaged at once. I should have had a brace or knee immobilizer; however, my former physician was an idiot and she did not know how to diagnose things. Nor did she refer me to a physio after begging her to do so. But, I digress. My knee cannot function as well as it used to and doing the simplest of things (such as running) is painful.
The second was a grade II ankle inversion sprain a few months later. Ankle injuries were common for me, and my left ankle was already weak as is. While playing floor hockey, the puck slid under my foot, I misplaced my footing and my ankle just gave way. It was one ankle sprain too many. However, the grade II sprain is treatable. But, again, my former physician is an idiot and did nothing about it, which consequently made my ankle worse.
Since no treatments were given to me, I was off for the worse. College was rounding the corner, and there was no way I could join team sports or workout as frequently as I used to in high school with my long hours at school and work, and on the condition that I still was not healed.
After a year and a bit of not working out or training, I gained weight and most of my muscles began to atrophy.
The jock and sport nut that I once was was no more on the outside; but inside, emotionally, I was still the same me.
I joined my local YMCA, made running around my neighbourhood a regular thing (then demoted myself to just walking), tried getting into the groove back into playing tennis, and played rec soccer with some friends for the summer.
I quit all four.
It was just too painful. Even walking from one class to another only 100m down the hall, you could notice a slight limp in my swagger.
What was I to do? I don’t want to sit on my rump all day. I was still hungry for sports and activity.
A couple of months ago, I learned my friend – Angie – was opening her own yoga company: Viridian Yoga. She set up a couple of trial classes and asked me if I wanted to join.
At first I was skeptical. I was still negatively biased towards yoga and knew it wasn’t my thing. The only yoga I’ve ever done was on my Wii Fit. And I didn’t even use yoga mode on my Wii too often anyway. However, it was free and it was probably my only chance to try it out.
Since I didn’t know anyone else (except Angie) that was going to attend the classes, I asked my friend TayloredMyPants to accompany me. We can be wimpy-yoga losers together.
The first class we attended was new and difficult to say the least. It was not your typical yoga Wii Fit workout. This was the real deal. Though it was only a basic introduction class, I was already breaking out a sweat within ten minutes.
We started out doing simple stretches and breathing exercises. Soon after, Angie went through various yoga poses (all having weird names attached to them, like “Downward Dog”). Muscles I never knew I was able to contract were starting to burn and my stiff joints started loosening up.
Yup, I was doing yoga.
The first class took approximately one hour and by the end of the class, I felt relaxed and had a renewed well-being. I know that may seem silly to you non-yogis, but that is what one class can do to you.
After the first class, I desired for more yoga. Luckily, Angie offered a few more trial classes.
The next class was similar to the first one we attended, except this time I was starting to recognize the names of the poses while going into them. Despite having experience in just one class, I was still having difficulties balancing and holding poses. Angie made it possible for us to overcome the new movements we’ve rarely experienced before.
Approximately once every 10 seconds, we had to be reminded to breathe. You may think that might get annoying after a while, but it doesn’t. You can forget to do that sometimes when you’re trying to hold a pose. On several occasions, we also had to be reminded to “come back to centre”. It’s easy to get distracted if you have a load of things on your mind or if you hear the ‘tick-tocking’ of the clock. Coming back to centre helps you get rid of all your distractions and just focus on your breathing, how your body feels, and the sense of where your body is in space.
The next couple of classes, I saw new and old faces. I was ready to have the same workout regime as previous. Little did I know, Angie was adding more variety. We learned even more yoga poses that were a little more challenging that before. Two minutes into the session, and I was already breaking out into sweat. This is a good thing — change is good.
By the end of the trial classes, I was already seeing changes in myself. I no longer slouch as bad as I used to and my posture has improved. Even when I’m at the bus stop or waiting around, I’m grounding the “four corners” of my feet (the big toe, the baby toe, the inner heel and the outer heel; lifting the arches; and equally distributing weight between each foot). But more importantly, I feel less pain when walking or running.
In my case, the only way I can continue feeling better is if I keep practicing yoga. Everyone will feel differently after trying it out for the first time, but most likely it will be a positive outcome.
So try it. Feel better. Feel stronger. Get in touch with your mind and body.
To contact Angie and/or Viridian Yoga or to reserve a spot in one of her classes, click on the Viridian Yoga icon on my blog or visit the Viridian Yoga Facebook page and Twitter page, @ViridianYoga.