If you love Yoga, do yourself a favour and stop reading now.
If you’re content with Ohm Shanti Shanti’ing your way into a heaven and learning to breathe through your ears and anus more power to you! You’ve been warned if you proceed you’re only going to get worked up and your chakra is going to be fucked up for the whole day. Proceed at your own risk.
I’ve been ‘doing’ yoga or my version of a yoga type practise for probably around 2.5 years. In a few months I’ll be finished on my 200hrs Teacher Training course, so the title of this blog post may seem confusing.
I stretch and move around in a wide variety of ways each day, I feel so much healthier and better about my body’s functionality for it. I need my clients and others to really consider including some variety in their movement practises, outside the realms of moving solely for metabolic exhaustion or getting your curls done. Consider working on your flexibilty/mobility, take your joints through some full range of movement, stretch all those ’21st century living’ tightened muscles that will bite you in the ass soon enough with an injury at some point, with your hamstrings so tight you have to sit down to put your socks on and pecs so tight you nearly rupture a disc trying to wipe your arse.
I’d say Yoga but I don’t mean Yoga, I think I just mean stretching…
Yoga ; noun ; a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which including breath control, simple meditation…
YEAH I DEFINITELY DONT MEAN YOGA!
I started like most to try and help out a few chronic injuries I was dealing with. I was stiff and rigid and came to the conclusion I need me some Yoga! You see Yoga pretty much has the monopoly on the ‘stretching industry’, But the Yoga community would be the first to say, ‘It’s soooooo much more than stretching!!’
Which is why I don’t ‘DO’ Yoga, I ‘DO’ stretching.
Stretching is simple, you just need you, some space and the will to get a little bendier! That’s it!
But when I talk about stretching, everybody switches off. Stretching isn’t sexy or exotic!
“I’ve just been Stretching,” doesn’t sound as good over a skinny-venti-soya-mocha-chino.
Nobody sold £100 stretching pants! Or Instagrammed themselves on a Mauritius beach doing a calf stretch!
This is starting to touch on why I love stretching but I HATE YOGA!
Firstly I hate the Yoga snobs! Believe me more of you are guilty of it than you think!
“What kind of Yoga do you do? I’m so like into the spiritual side of Yoga I feel I truly know my purpose and lifes calling after each time I practise” …..Fuuuuuck Offfff!! You forget it all the second you walk out the studio and pick up the latest Glamour magazine and plonk your arse down in front of X-Factor. Very Fucking SPIRITUAL!! Go run your SELFRIDGES card up!!
I hated that first feeling of walking into a class feeling out of place sitting in silence worried if I coughed too loudly I’d interrupt somebodies path to enlightenment and they’d have to start again. It felt a little bit too much like walking into a church for me. I’m not religious in the slightest and to start with there are just too many links and passed down rituals and that kind of thing for me to be fully down with most Yoga and Yoga studios. Om is a sacred sound and spiritual icon in Dharmic religions, so why would I be humming it because somebody told me to? If I believed it then fine, but because it creates a more authentic feel in a ‘fitness class’ no thanks!
That’s another thing I hate the false Authenticity! Because you have chanting and the 1920′s Indian Top 40 playlist does that mean my stretching will be that much more effective!?
I hate the Sanskrit, It’s a dead language! You speak English! I speak English! I tell you what… Why don’t you teach me in Fucking English! I struggle enough with English! Don’t confuse the matter!! Tell me where you want my hands and feet to be!! As I don’t know what PASCHIMOTTANASANA is!! And it doesn’t impress me that you do!! It’s a forward bend you prick!
I hate that Yoga is seen as feminine and that a bloke going to class must obviously be an attempt to get a date, because blokes just don’t ‘Do’ Yoga! I hate that it’s seen as an old persons exercise, it’s what mum does when Body Attack classes get too much for her!
I hate that it’s full of spiritual-realigning-self-discovery mumbo jumbo! Every pretentious Yoga Class attendee is just as unhinged as the rest of us and no amount of Ohmmmmmming is gonna change that my dear! What you are feeling is a high from exercising and giving your body some nutrition through movement! Not your spirit being cleansed!!
I hate the classist element of Yoga! The studio’s are always in the posh areas! And don’t get me started on the price of some sessions! Because of this it’s much more likely to find your middle-class-Cheshire-ladies-that-lunch type dressed in their Lululemon matching outfit than it is to find a balding-tattooed-Stockport-lad dressed from head to toe in Primark.
I can’t argue with the health benefits that some Yoga poses have done for my own body. When people ask for advice I say I do Yoga. A little bit of me dies inside when I say this, but I say it because it gives them a reference point of roughly what I’m talking about! I don’t chant! or bow! or follow any scripts or sequences! I don’t have a guru! I don’t ‘do’ Yoga! but for simplicities sake it’s just easier to say, ‘yeah I do Yoga!’
Humans have packaged it up like they do everything else into a commodity that they can sell back to you! Here you have human movement being branded up and pedaled to us! Cats don’t do Yoga, they stretch and move through their day in a variety of ways making use of what abilities they have. Humans have fucked ourselves up so much and lost touch with our own humanity and what it means to be a human we know need people to show us how to use our own bodies! We need to learn to reclaim the use of what we have before we lose the abilities for ever!
There does seem to be a shift occuring in small pockets of the industry. Clearing out of the crap and the unnecessary. Updating things for a more modern day individual that just wants to move some more!
This post was just to say don’t let all the wanky aspects of Yoga and similar activities put you off trying something that really will improve your quality of life. Stick with it! Try and find a class, an instructor an information source that sits well with you and get practising your stretches!!
You don’t have to call it Yoga! You don’t have to call it anything! That problem is for people like me and other fitness professionals that need to keep battling with terms to describe to others exactly what services they provide.
Mr Ashtanga-Vinyasa or Mrs Acro-Flow-Jiva-Yinfabulous this isn’t to discredit or bash your interests. You crack on! If you’re Happy then I’m Happy!
This post is for Dave or Sarah sat at their desks at work who just want to move a bit more in some new ways but feel a bit like a dick at the back of one of these traditional classes full of waif women pretzelling the shit out of themselves. Take it from me it doesn’t have to be this way, and you’ll be glad you persevered and found something to help you!
There are books and YouTube clips and Websites with loads of great info aimed at and written by people not seeking contortionist level flexibility, not trying to recruit you into their cult or flog you into their lifestyle brand that just want you to move better, feel healthier and be a little less sucky at being human.
If you want any advice from me, for what that may be worth, a soon to be qualified Yoga teacher, who hates Yoga drop me a message and I’ll help where I can. Or if you are more local to the gym come and try one of our Non-Yoga-Yoga classes, GUERRILLA MOVEMENT (I had to call them something, couldn’t just have an empty space on the timetable) when they return to the timetable in a month or so with all the best material and resources from my past 18 months of study, practice, courses and workshops. They will be great! Be sure to catch one and see for yourself!
Sweat Shed training, including stretching and mobility work, is now available in ONLINE PERSONAL TRAINING format.