Today’s blog is written by Karen Hatton, another of our Kick Start 2021 participants. Thank you Karen!

“Come and join the Yoga class my friends would say to me way back in the 80’s, and I did, but just 3 or 4 times, and then never again.  At that time, it just didn’t resonate with me.  I was into aerobics, some of you may remember those days – leotards, ankle warmers, fame style! I had small children and so not a lot of time and always felt as though I had a choice between keeping my heart healthy and coming out of a class hot, sweaty and red faced, or doing Yoga, which was slower, and wasn’t what I considered to be a proper exercise class.  

Oh, how wrong I was! 

I was re-introduced to yoga last year whilst training for my first half ironman, following the YouTube phenomenon Adriene & her 30-day yoga journey 2020.  (Please check out her current 30-day journey 2021 ‘Breath’, and her very gorgeous dog Benji).  I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed the sessions, so following my training I decided to have a proper go at Yoga and started the full 30-day journey.  It was a bit random at first but the more I did the more I started to understand what it was all about and I don’t mean the poses!  I discovered that Yoga is about promoting control of mind and body.  It’s only taken me 30 years! 

I’ve learnt to breathe, woo hoo!  I’ll bet you all thought you could breathe, well I’m telling you that you most certainly can’t, unless of course unlike me you discovered this little secret way before me!  Just being able to focus on my breath I find really helps me shut out all those nuisance things in my head, but more importantly I’ve learnt that this type of focus helps me put things into perspective and to take a positive out of whatever that nuisance might be, which in the current climate when there is so much bad news, confusing news and fake news is a wonderful revelation.   The last few weeks have been a challenge for me as far as family and friends for various reasons, and yoga and the space it gives me has really helped me make sense of it all.” 

OK, so what about the poses/ yoga postures?  A yoga pose or posture is known as an Asana, which is defined as ‘a position that is steady and comfortable’.  Yep, that’s what I said ‘comfortable’.  Yoga is about a full body experience and the poses are not meant to hurt or be uncomfortable.  Yoga is about the way we move, listening and being in tune with our body and therefore taking the pose as far as we can comfortably and that being enough, so not beating ourselves up because we can’t reach our toes or balance on one leg and just give it up as a lost cause. 

Oh, and the bonus, it builds muscle strength, in particular core strength, flexibility, balance and control, all things we can use in the activities we love and, in our case, that’s running and tri.  But in addition, we can take this into our everyday lives, so for example, next time you are stood in a queue, or in the playground waiting for your children to come out of school (in my case, my grandchild), consider how you are stood which is more than likely weight on one foot and head down hunched over your mobile (bet I nailed that one!).  Ok, so now change it, and move from your core, then distribute your weight evenly across both feet and lift your head up and look around.  It will do wonders for you and your posture and you might even see something funny or amazing. 

There are lots of us girls doing Yoga and not so many of you guys, and I strongly believe everyone can benefit from yoga in some shape or form, so come on guys give it a go, and remember it doesn’t matter if you can’t touch your toes with those tight hamstrings, maybe in a year you will have increased that flexibility just a bit and even if you haven’t, you most certainly will have improved the whole body and mind experience.  

Yoga has helped me as a runner and triathlete to stay strong.  Just like the performance prep and stretching sessions we have done as part of the 2021 Kick Off Challenge, it all contributes to your form.

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