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I took up yoga during lockdown, here is what the practice taught me

15th Sep 2020

Fiona Lee started took up yoga at the beginning of the pandemic and now considers herself a classic convert. Here is what she has learned 

This pandemic seems to have encouraged us all to make clumsy attempts at finding inner peace, what with all the chaos unfolding around us. When this lockdown took hold, I started a 30-day-yoga-challenge on YouTube. The prospect of 30 days of doing anything was incredibly desirable because it gave the illusion of a bit of structure and routine in my life, even if that 20-30 minutes was the only kind of structure I had.

Friends have been recommending yoga to me for a long time now, so I thought I would give it a lash. It certainly wouldn’t do me any harm, and I was excited by the meditative aspect of it when I was anticipating some very anxious days during lockdown.

30 days plus many months later, I am a classic convert. I’m not really sure what I did before yoga became a normal part of my day and routine. I was probably constantly tense, keeping myself busy with chores or productively and mindlessly flicking through social media. I never considered that I wasn’t giving myself enough time not only to mind my physical health, but my mental health too. I’m glad I have been given this time in self-isolation to learn these things about myself.

These are some things yoga has taught me and some misconceptions I had that were quickly corrected:

My form is shocking

I’m quite a sporty person. I have always been involved in some kind of sport. Complimenting that, I’ve had sports related injuries throughout my whole life. They have mainly been to do with my knees and ankles, but I’ve always had painful cracks in most of the other feeble joints too. I’ve known strengthening my muscles would help, and I have made efforts to do so, but I tend to end up getting an injury flare up.

Yoga has very harshly but thankfully shown me that my form is all over the place. My hip is prone to collapsing and my knee is constantly turning in when I don’t realise it. I don’t press into all 4 corners of my feet either, all of which account for a life of poor balance and explains my many injuries and clumsiness. Yoga really makes you aware of where you hold tension and where you are weak. Taking time to mend these things in a low-impact way is incredible for the body, the mind and your day-to-day life.

I’m quite hard on myself

Yoga is very physical, but it’s also about the mind. I can only speak from my own experience, and that experience was with the YouTube channel ‘Yoga with Adriene. I’m not sure if every yoga teacher is as uplifting and emotionally penetrating as Adriene is. My God did she poke me where it hurt, but in a good way!  She always says little things that take me by surprise, little standard comments of well-wishing and how to love and accept yourself that I didn’t know I needed. I actually teared up after one or two practices, which came as a mighty shock. When you really start to take care of yourself, properly, it’s glaring how much you were neglecting yourself before, in every way.

You do not need to look ‘the part’

My image of yoga before this journey was a woman in branded gym gear talking about sun salutations, downward dogs and all of the other yoga jargon that I find very much intimidating. This really made me feel like you had to be a certain type of person to like yoga, and that person wasn’t me. The barrier I saw between myself and yoga was beat down by following a yoga class that felt authentic and relaxed, it was just another way to get moving and chill out at the end of the day (or first thing in the morning). I’ve learned a few jargon words along the way, but I’m not fussed about them at all. It’s not about what you know, it’s about the movement and bringing all the focus on you. Plus, feel no pressure at all to get your snazzy gym gear out. Wear what’s comfy, even if that’s your PJs!

You’ll work up a sweat

Of course, you can pick and choose how hard or easy you want the session to be, and that’s really the beauty of it because you’ll feel great after it regardless. But I have to say, I never thought it was going to be easy, but some days were surprisingly intense. I was shaking like a leaf! It feels amazing to have such a good workout that you can do at home, inside, with minimal space. Get ready to get strong is all I can say!

There’s always time for it

The practices are not long. There is a variety of guided yoga sessions on YouTube, some are 10 minutes, some are an hour, and everything in between and beyond. Now that we are going through a new chapter of this pandemic, and work and play routines are coming back, I’m making a vow to myself that I will make the time to keep up with my daily yoga. There is always time for it, it’s just a matter of making a habit of it, the same way you would take time to eat, shower, or go to the toilet!

The hardest thing about it is just showing up, so go for it, and find a practice that’s right for you. Remember to light a candle!

Related: Fitness Fact or Fiction: Can yoga benefit your weight training?

Related: 3 beautiful, Irish design yoga mats to inspire you to practise everyday

Related: How a month of yoga helped me to run better, faster and longer

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