Posture

This time last year exercise was so easy. Didn’t need to think about it. Chuck some kettlebells about and then go running in the hills. Happy days.

Then the pandemic happened. Anxiety and fears of my son brought the walls up. Suddenly we were housebound. Running stopped.

So now it’s chucking a kettlebell about and things like yoga. It’s not easy anymore. Not just running in the direction of my nose anymore. Need to think about things. Lots of things…

  • Are the feet, hips and shoulders in line,
  • Imagine the feet sinking into the ground, a great base,
  • Am I correctly rooted,
  • Is the back straight,
  • Am I controlling my breathing,
  • Am I extending that hip opener,
  • Is this an up dog or a down dog,
  • Is my neck extended,
  • Have I just done a clockwise or anticlockwise circle with my knee,
  • Which is my left leg again,
  • Is that my knee clicking,
  • How am I going to get out of this knot,
  • Have I done my 3 minutes in the tree pose yet,
  • Remember to lower my back one vertebrae at a time,
  • Do I bring my feet together, hip wide or wider,
  • What on earth is a virabhadrasana II,
  • Is my bum tensed,
  • Don’t forget to say namaste….

If the thinking was bad enough what about the pain. Never again will I ever moan about a muddy hill climb. The agony of a delicious hip opener. The dizziness of my head being below my buttocks. The shooting pain from holding my entire and not insignificant weight on just two dodgy old wrists for a torturous crow. The brain shakes that come from yet another extended plank. That soul destroying feeling that hits you when after suffering 5 minutes of a triangle pose you here the words ‘and now for the left side’.

So yes I really do miss the good old days of just running.

What is it with me

Parents do need to relax sometimes….

I’m starting to get a complex. My Tai Chi and Yoga are under attack. Serious attack.

So yesterday I talked about who a delivery man rudely interrupted me in full ‘Golden Rooster one one leg’ mode. Well it escalated today.

The back gate was wedged shut with the bin. No delivery man is getting to see me strut my stuff today. All was going well. I was just getting my breathing in sync with my inner spirit. He chi was flowing nicely on my yoga mat. All was good as I gracefully performed ‘White Crane Spreads Wing’.

Then a hooligan pack of Birds flew over the garden. An unprovoked bombing run. One of the little blighters scored a direct hit on my once blue yoga mat.

My inner moment was gone. Is it just me!!!! I don’t see this happening to the likes of Adriene on her videos from Texas.

Maybe it’s much safer to sit with a mug of coffee and watch the sun go down. Under an umbrella just in case.

Wet, wet, wet

Wet, wet, wet.

This happened the other day. Have you had those moments in life when you think you are on top of things. In the zone. Finally mastering life. When in fact you have just walked off the edge. Living a complete nightmare. From hero to zero in an instant…..

I was out in the back garden. Working out on the patio. I had completed my weights and kettlebell routine. Smashed through 20 minutes CrossFit. Seemingly on top of my game. Unusually feeling good. Feeling so good I decided to enrich the soul with a few minutes of Tai Chi. I was at one with nature. Feeling the Chi surge round my body. Stress levels plummeting. Performing beautifully the ‘Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg’ move. AND SUDDENLY a manly cough behind me.

“Excuse me mate where do you want your parcel leaving”

I could see the smirk on the delivery guy stood 3 yards behind me. How long had he been stood there. The shame. The butt of jokes in the pub tonight (good job they are closed). Stress levels through the roof.

Don’t you just love life……

Wilderness

One of my sister lives about 30 minutes drive in that direction. During 2020 it might as well have been 1000 miles. No chance of seeing her.

Where we live always feels like it’s so cut off from the world. Sometimes it’s so easy to forget that a city is not that far a drive away. It’s one of those rare cities that hasn’t allowed any high rise buildings. It hides easily away on the horizon.

That feeling of being cut off is helped by lack of kinks we have with the outside world. If you don’t want to use the car then it’s two small buses a day. Nothing on a Sunday. The village doesn’t have a pub, or cafe, or school, or shop. Not quite tumbleweed levels but definitely quiet and often feeling most definitely cut off. During a pandemic even the occasional rambler has become a real rarity. The only evidence that an outside world still exists is the fairly regular stream of passing cyclists. The challenge of climbing the steep hill to the village is attractive to those on two wheels. A climb I’ve not undertaken since a few weeks before the world changed for me in 2016.

A lots happened in those years. Thoughts of needing a sportier frame have morphed into ‘that ornament gathering dust is taking up too much space in the increasingly cramped garage’.

But things will change eventually. We won’t seem so cut off again. The bike will again become a means of transport. Trips to the city and my sister will recommence. Life will become connected again. Even for those living in the wilderness……

Tai Chi for Lego

Stress, anxiety, nerves.

For years the best tool I had to combat these pesky fellas was running. Lots of it. It almost became a daily fix for this bumbling muppet. But 2020 has completely curtailed that. So I strive for my new Excalibur.

The three best candidates so far are

Winning the lottery (still working on that, I guess it would help if I bought a lottery ticket),

Yoga,

Tai Chi.

So in reality it’s down to the later two candidates. It’s early days, we may need a few more recounts but it might be time to call a result. As ever my buddies the Mini Lego figures are keen to help out.

So I started out feeling a little unsure of myself but a few Scooby snacks encouraged me to give both mindfulness exercise regimes a go.

The first thing is that both approaches do require some comfy clothes. But it says nothing about how stylish for those have to be. You can get seriously creative. Maybe lime green circle shorts, or maybe something pinky purple or maybe something royally outrageous.

Both Yoga and Tai Chi do require you to commit to them. It takes much practice to master them. Balance is one thing you need to master. Although beards are not essential on the mat they may in fact help with balance and stability. False beards are available for those who can’t grow them…..

One thing you will notice is that both approaches have their own unique languages. Requests to perform a ‘bound lotus’ or ‘parting the wild horses main’ will frequently leave you with not the slightest ScoobyDoo of what is going on.

Then we come to the instructors. Be aware here. They start out sounding like your new best buddy but be careful. Look at some of the positions they bend you into – they must have a secret dark side.

Then we come to the end results. Well with dedication then just like Frankie both can be real body builders.

Are they good anxiety and stress busters? Yes if you find the right instructor. Find the wrong one and Tai Chi will leave you seriously red in the face as you try to master the meditative breathing routines.

Which actually is much better than Yoga which can definitely release the inner anger when you get painfully stuck in the Formidable Face Pose.

And finally the big difference I noticed between the two approaches to body and soul health. With Tai Chi I feel like I am still in one piece after completing a session.

Unfortunately the same can not be said for yoga. Often after one to many ‘nice detoxifying hip openers’ I feel something akin to this….

And please remember that for whatever exercise you opt for please be mindful of others and maintain effective social distancing.

Namaste….

Tai Chi

From a time when running was still an option for me. This photo was taken a year ago. Who would have thought that a year later I would be looking at this view as something so precious. I ran this trail on my last run which was back in March. No sign of running here any time soon. Wonder if anything has changed?

8 months without a run. I can’t believe that. 8 months.

I was thinking how much I missed it. Running was good for me. Apart from the fitness element it also was good for my soul. A wonderful stress buster. But I guess as one door closes another opens. Who would have thought that I would become a regular yoga dude. And quite enjoy it. Not as much as running but let’s give it time.

And now there is something else.

Tai Chi

Yep I’ve started doing that as well now. It’s basically yoga without falling over….. Let’s see how it goes. Its going to be fun. It’s something different. I definitely feel like a Tai Chi lego figure guide will be coming soon…..

These are odd times. The old normal has stopped. We just have to adapt. Find ways to do more than just survive. Need to keep living.

Find new ways to run.

Goals

It’s strange how my goals can shift. This time last year I was thinking about cranking my runs up. Eyeing up some longer trail runs. Trying to find ways to fit them in during school hours and work. Then building towards a 22 mile Moors run. Something to aim for during the winter months.

Fast forward a year and the thought of trail runs has long gone.

Now just a walk across the farmers field to that tree in the distance seems like a real goal. An aim. Something to dream about. How many times can we get to that tree over the next few months.

Until life resets again then that is something to hold onto. I realise it’s important to be realistic. To take account of the circumstances that are currently in place. Short term goals need to change to take account of this. But I can still dream on a grander scale. Push that horizon further. Hold those dreams close and maybe one day when life shifts, and it will, they become the achievable goals.

Sitting down

I must have run past this monument well into a three figure number. Lots of times. I wonder when will be the next run here? 2021? 2022? or later.

Without running I’ve switched to more CrossFit and Yoga. I can definitely see a few more muscles but I’m not sure how far I could run now. It’s been many many months since I last put on my running shoes. My joints would definitely need a good oiling before I tried.

Today’s yoga was definitely interesting. 10 minutes of doing what appeared to be a simple task. Standing up from a cross legged position without using my hands. The standing up bit was ok, it was the getting down bit which was the challenge. How hard can it possibly be to go from standing up to sitting on the floor with my hands behind my back. Humpty Dumpty comes to mind. Give me running any day please. I can do that. But I guess over the coming months I will get the chance to improve. Not sure my bottom can cope with the bruises for that length of time.

We had two deliveries and the postman this morning. It’s unsettling for me to see each person arrive at the door fully masked up. Imagine what it does to someone fighting fears about germs and bugs. It really did spook Hawklad. Should really say spooked him even more. My job over the week is to rig up a post box outside to stop letters coming through the front door. Another thing that increasingly bothers Hawklad. As these anxieties continue to grow he becomes more clingy with me. His health professional has told me that his fears are so ingrained that they may not start to ease until this pandemic is under control and the vaccine has been rolled out and proven to be effective.

A clear time frame is starting to emerge on our lockdown. This is going well into 2021, maybe longer. That has huge implications for school, my work and our quality of life. Quality of life in the sense that our world will be the house and garden for the foreseeable future.

Running is not happening so I had better start to learn new skills. Skills like not collapsing in a heap when I try to get onto the floor without using my hands.

Tomatoes

It’s taken long enough but at last some tomatoes. For some reason they are about a month later this year. Blame it on 2020. But at least it’s a start.

This morning I had two firsts. To start with, I managed to do a weights move for the first time ever. Instead of using two hands to pick up the laden weights bar and push it over my head, I did it one handed. It’s not clever and a little reckless, but it’s certainly cool when you do it. Never been able to do that before.

Then I finally managed to correctly transition some yoga moves. Normally when the video instructor says carefully transition – that involves me falling on my face, crashing into a wall and swearing lots. Today I was almost ballerina like. A ballerina with hairy legs…

It gives you a lift when you finally achieve something. We all need that from time to time.

I was going through Hawklads school notes today. He’s made great progress, certainly in the time he’s been school working from home. But what concerned me was the lack of progress I was making with the school authorities. It’s been 18 months since I made any headway with them. Just seem to be stuck. Can’t get any more support for him. Can’t get the school to try new teaching approaches with him. Can’t get the regional education authorities to send in a dyslexia expert. Can’t get the authorities to show a little flexibility with his education funding. Basically it’s the set teaching programme, with any additional financial support he’s been awarded just been used to fund general teaching support budgets for all the kids. The so called special funding basically buys a kid with additional educational needs a place at a school. The Government is quick to point the finger at families getting additional schooling funds

– we are taking money off other kids,

– it’s the gravy train,

– waste of tax payers money,

– it’s wasted funding.

Yet what the Government never seems to mention is that the families never see that money. We can’t control it. It is basically recycled into general school budgets. So the kids who need it actually don’t get any direct benefit from it. Sometimes the fundings only purpose seems to be to just shift the blame for school failings away from the authorities and on to a minority of families.

So yes some education progress is needed. Either that or for Hawklad to elect to be educated from home. But progress would be nice.

Help with yoga

What on earth are you doing Dad.”

This is supposed to be yoga.

Really, looks like torture.”

This position is supposed to be called the Downward Dog”

More like Dead Dog.”

And this one I’m transitioning into is called the Reverse Warrior.

You look like a Buffalo trying to do ballet.”

That’s not really helping Son.

This is very funny are you going to try another one Dad.”

This is a Mountain.

That’s just standing…”

Well this is the Siddha Pose.

Now that’s just sitting on the ground”.

Ok well this one is the Crescent Moon.

You look like you’ve just been struck by lightning.”

No pleasing some people. Well this one is Forward Fold.

Looks like you’ve dropped some money now.”

Right be prepared to be impressed now…. This one is called the Standing One legged Pulling Pose.

**** 3 seconds later I’m in a crumpled heap on the ground****

Awesome Dad, I’m calling that the Dead Muppet on the Ground position”