Sys­tem up­grade

The Guardian - Weekend - - Contents - @zoesqwilliams

Zoe Wil­liams tack­les on­line yoga. Plus My life in sex: the sur­vivor of rape

Idon’t re­ally want to sell Adriene Mish­ler to you on the ba­sis of how many YouTube sub­scribers she has. But OK, it’s 2.5m peo­ple, sign­ing up to a free daily tuition video from the thir­tysome­thing ac­tor-cum-yoga teacher. I signed up for one of her cour­ses, called Revo­lu­tion: 31 Days Of Yoga.

It’s more than yoga – it’s a com­plete sys­tem for lov­ing your­self: “We want to make sure we look good, and feel good, but tend to that in­ner space too by hon­our­ing who we are.” That was day three, Honor; day one is Ease, day two In­ten­tion; day six, in­tox­i­cat­ingly, is At­ten­tion And Abs. All the videos start with tak­ing a few moments to con­nect with some­thing, usu­ally your body, some­times your breath­ing, other times your en­ergy. If you think about all the other ways you could lose a few min­utes – re­fresh­ing Twit­ter, star­ing – this is bet­ter.

Day one, Ease, I did not find all that easy. It was about re­lax­ation, but had down­ward dogs and planks, child’s poses, those things that look low­volt­age, but are ac­tu­ally quite chal­leng­ing. Day four, Prana, started with a lot of breath­ing – a tech­nique called ka­palb­hati pranayama, which seems im­pos­si­ble to de­scribe. It’s meant to clean the frontal lobes. It sounds a bit like the breath­ing thing that doesn’t help when you’re in labour. There is no way to test your lobe clean­li­ness, so you never know whether you’re do­ing it right.

Some of the lan­guage is per­plex­ing: “We’re not pad­ding the knees be­cause we have bad knees – we’re pad­ding the knees be­cause it’s an act of love and play­ful­ness.” Adriene, for such a phys­i­cally dis­ci­plined per­son, is chaotic in her use of metaphor. It is never plain to me how ex­actly I am sup­posed to open my heart.

Oth­er­wise, she is re­mark­able: even though she’s not in the room, the small­est, un­like­li­est in­struc­tion – “re­ally feel the pad of your in­dex fin­ger on the mat” – makes a per­cep­ti­ble dif­fer­ence. And I am mak­ing no­tice­able progress, in flex­i­bil­ity mainly, but also strength, within two and a bit weeks.

I can get nearer my toes and do a bet­ter plank.

The hard­est bit by far is find­ing 30 min­utes ev­ery day. I couldn’t start till there was no one in the house, till the dog had had his ex­er­cise needs met, oth­er­wise he tried to hump me all the way through. If I did it after chips or cham­pagne, I got sav­age in­di­ges­tion. This ba­si­cally left me 29 free min­utes if I was lucky. By day 10, I was still on day four, Prana, or if you pre­fer (I trust you not to) “life force”. It re­minds me of the time I did an on­line course about cli­mate change, and was still on the Pleis­tocene epoch when the course had al­most reached en­vi­ron­men­tal apoc­a­lypse.

But very soon, if not as­sid­u­ously, I am start­ing to rely on Adriene. She has a whole­some face and a to­tal, wholly un­founded faith in my value to the uni­verse.

This week I learned

The se­cret to a good down­ward dog is to push into the mat with your hands

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.