Summer sleep

Saturday arrives and the Yorkshire summer is still trying to hold on. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic to feel warm but….. I don’t sleep well these days at the best of times. To have a chance I need to be snuggled under a warm duvet, not lying on top of the covers feeling uncomfortably warm. So the warmth has made sleep even less likely. I’m now getting use to operating through the day with two hours sleep at most. Weeks upon weeks on that. That’s not ideal, it’s not healthy but that’s how it is.

The brain so easily just boots up in auto pilot mode. The body is awake, the brain less so.

It’s Saturday, so I start the day with a yoga session. And thats what I remember doing. So why then after about 15 minutes do I suddenly realise yoga isn’t about throwing a kettlebell about. I can’t even remember taking the kettlebells outside with me. Maybe it was sleep kettlebelling….. Still could be worse. At least I was clothed. At least it was my garden I was in. At least I hadn’t just fallen asleep on the yoga mat.

The worry is that the home at school project restarts on Monday for another 7 week block. The return of the early morning alarms calls are not going to help the sleep.

But on the bright side I have not resorted to early hours QVC or pointless reality TV watching. I am using the extra hours awake to focus on what is truly important to me. That’s why I can still do this. That’s why I might be tired but I’m smiling this Saturday Summers day in Yorkshire.

Brought down to Earth.

How do you tell when you son has been watching too much The Simpsons. Maybe it was too much of the American version of The Office….

I thought I was at one with nature. Just completing a 50 minute yoga session out. I thought it going well. I felt a definite natural flow to my movements. Maybe just maybe I have finally found my inner Rhythm and goddess mode. Then I heard the icy tones of a teenage son and the moment was blown out of the water.

Dad there has never been a finer more awesome Dad squeezed into a pair of 56 inch pants…….”

Wow…..

Harsh but fair.

Brain Freeze

Another one of those warm Yorkshire Spring days….

Trying to do mindful yoga outside works ‘so well’ when your fingers are blue and you can’t feel your toes. Actually can’t feel any part of your body. Not so much mindful as Mind Numbing. Brain Freeze.

A bit later Hawklad wanted a slush puppy. Really…. Well I guess it is the warmer months. So the slush was made and taken outside.

Dad it’s not melting in fact it’s refreezing….”

So yes it cold but here’s the thing. It’s been just what I needed today. Not enough sleep last night. Not enough for a while now. So I woke feeling like a zombie. As I’m trying to be healthy, caffeine is not an option to get me going. The next best thing is a shock to the system. An ice cold bath or in this case a Yorkshire Spring day…

Vegetate

I’ve been trying to practice yoga and tai chi for months now. I diligently watch and follow the videos. All the really glossy and professional videos. I was trying again this morning. Following the instructor through her perfect routine. Even her dog sits beside her perfectly. Never moving. In the background the gentle sound of peaceful music. Perfect.

Meanwhile in deepest Yorkshire.

A muppet is seamlessly moving from one body creak to the next groan. Losing balance and crashing into furniture. Constantly fearing my pants are going to split under the galactic pressure being exerted on them. Every time I hit the ground a mad dog instantly leaps on me and I replay the Bill Murray Ghostbusters scene – I’VE BEEN SLIMED. And no gentle sound of peaceful music here. Rather the sound of derision and laughter….

What on earth are you doing Dad”

“If this was on TV it would be banned”

“You look a right sight

Funnier than a Will Ferrell movie

Say that again Dad. Golden Rooster. More like drunken Pigeon

Are you supposed to be balancing on one leg or head butting the wall

My Dad has turned into Homer Simpson”

Please never do this when any of my friends visit”

Your just embarrassing yourself now”

Technically speaking this probably means that I still have a long way to go on my spiritual exercise journey. Or more likely …. time to get the mega pack of biscuits out and vegetate.

Cat….

A beautiful start to the day. Early morning. A time for reflection and renewal. The perfect time for yoga and meditation.

Well that’s the plan.

The reality was somewhat different. A creaking, stiff body. A sleep deprived mind and a cat. Yes that cat. The big boy. The biggest cat on the Vets’s books. Yoga is too much of a temptation for him. Great for him. Not so great for yoga practice. Not the greatest photos. Too dark. Cat way too close. Trying to hide my exposed short covered legs….

L

Not sure it will

Temporary farmers field lake is still going strong and still delivering. Kind of want it all year round. Wonder if my hosepipe will reach that far….

I’m not sure it will.

I was doing my morning torture ritual. Set the alarm to go off while it’s still dark. Exercise and then let the real torture begin. Yoga. Trying to follow the helpful and really nice instructions.

“To extend this pose why don’t you just take those knees just a bit lower…”

I’m not sure they will.

“This is a scrumptious hip opener why don’t you just hold it for another 10 seconds…”

I’m not sure I have the will.

“Try to breathe in through your nose to the count of 7 and then breathe slowly out to the count of 8.”

I’m not sure my lungs will.

“Now try to touch the ground with the outside of your left knee while twisting your body as far you can to the right.”

I’m convinced it will not do that without rupturing my spine.

“While keeping your right leg off the ground cradle your left thigh with both arms, start to rock.”

If you count going into catatonic shock as rocking, then I can…

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.

Worth it

That was the backdrop to my early morning workout. So much better that grey, damp , gnarly mist.

At the end of the workout I was finishing off with 10 minutes tai chi when a couple of thoughts crossed my mind. Apart from ITS FREEZING and why on earth did I come outside in cycle shorts.

I thought about clearly looking like a complete Wally and also what my family would think if they could see me now. One of my sisters would be cool with it as she does yoga. The others not so sure. My brother would definitely mutter something involving the word ‘hippy’. My parents would have talked about the world clearly going completely mad. Their idea of a mindfulness workout would have just about stretched to putting on the kettle for a cup of Yorkshire Tea. It’s a Yorkshire thing. We have a saying here

If the country raises the threat level to national panic, Yorkshire would raise the threat level to ‘ put a mug of tea on’.

I guess we all have to find whatever works for us.

But that’s the thing. I’m not sure my parents ever really did. Too many people don’t. We still don’t talk about mental health enough. That has to change.

So tomorrow I will be outside and trying to master Tai Chi. I might look like a Wally but that’s fine with me. Trying to deal with mental health issues is so worth it.

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….