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….

Route tracking

Just about a year ago I had just dropped Hawklad off at school and about an hour later was running along this country lane while listening to rock music. Another 4 miles and I would be back home. Then it would be a cup of full fat caffeine and then get stuck into work until it was time to pick Hawklad back up again. How times have changed.

No trips to school, no work, no trail running, no caffeine and the MP3 player has not been used since March.

Since then the only running has been a couple of attempts at running round the garden. It’s not a big garden. Each lap lasted lasted less than 10 seconds. Who could forget the marvellous route map from one of those epics…

These days running has been replaced with yoga and tai chi. Or as we like to call them.

Falling over and Falling over with added style.

No need to track my route on those activities. Today I accidentally did track my route for yoga and tai chi…..

That’s kind of worrying as I was supposed to be staying on my small yoga mat. Maybe my tracker is not as accurate as I had hoped for. But I suspect a faulty tracker will not be an issue going forward really. Can’t see too many runs happening this side of Easter. But that’s ok. There are much more important things to worry about. And today I quite enjoyed Falling over and Falling over with style. Kind of felt like I was summoning up a bit of my inner Dr Strange. Maybe there is something to this yoga and tai chi thing.

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.

It’s Yoga but not as we know it

Why do I always hear Spock’s words to Captain Kirk whenever I try to do yoga.

It’s life Jim but not as we know it!”

It’s yoga just not as we know it. That sums up my yoga talents perfectly. I do try. I guess it’s like my parenting as well – it’s parenting but not as we know it. Anyway back to that instrument of torture which is yoga. I’m part of the Yoga with Adriene App community. She’s really really good but even she can’t sort some people out. This person out. But at least I can laugh at the many times I lose balance and then hit the ground.

Like most things in life, we have to find our own way.

The last ME/MUPPET guide to yoga went down so well and it guided so many lost souls to yoga perfection – well then clearly you need another one. Again I will be assisted by some brave and fearless (mostly) mini lego figures. I will be played this time by Shaggy. Bizarrely the rest of the yoga group are Star Wars characters.

First point is that it’s so important that you get yoga mats, leggings and blocks that are the right size for you. Anything other than a perfect fit could lead to injury or worse, embarrassment.

A perfect fit for a yoga block

Remember to place your mat next to people who have similar abilities to yourself. In my case I tend to look at for certain key signs in the other yoga attendees. Badly fitting gym clothes, a few spare tyres round the middle, scrapes and bruises to the knees, bandages on the elbows, squashed nose and a slightly bemused look.

Perfect person to be next to ?

Be careful if you get your selection wrong then it will only ever end in disaster. Some people are better equipped to do certain yoga positions than others…..

Motorised hips, no arms and no knees make the crow pose so much easier.

Remember it’s a badge of honour to be the only person in the session standing on the wrong leg repeatedly.

I’m on the correct leg everybody else is wrong…

There will come a time when you will be asked to do a one legged dancer’s pose. Don’t be fearful, embrace it. Especially when you find out your the only person in the room who can’t do it.

Can you explain that move just one more time….

Breathe deeply. Struggle onto one leg. I find swearing really helps. Then as gracefully as possible try to headbutt the floor. You may get a sensation something equivalent to five neutron stars exploding in your hips. That will be the correct Dancer’s pose. A certain feeling of lower half detachment may follow.

That hurt…..

The other important tip is to embrace the journey you go on with the instructor. At the start of the session he or she may seem the nicest and most kind person you could ever hope to meet. In my case Adriene’s words are like a warming blanket, settling deep inside my soul. Then the true journey of discovery begins. After about 10 minutes your instructor will start to talk about ‘nice detoxifying hip openers’. At this stage you will now start to view the instructor as more akin to a prison guard, barking out instructions with the threat of a gun.

Do as you are told…

Your yoga journey will be complete when your instructor tells you to adopt the crow position so you can be ‘truly grounded and at one with the earth’. At that stage you will see the instructor as a predator, a carnivore about to feed on your lifeless and broken carcass . Don’t worry this is completely normal and just means that you still have 5 minutes to go before the session has ended.

Only 5 minutes to go before you have been properly tenderised.

I hope this has been of some use to you. Remember your body is a temple. Probably in urgent need of a preservation and restoration order. You can do this. NAMASTE….

Strain

After 36 hours the rain finally stopped. How long before the broadband dries out enough to start working again? My poor mobile and it’s dodgy 4G signal are having to try and take up the strain. It’s struggling.

Strain is a quite a good word for the day.

I was trying to do my Sunday morning yoga. My online yoga expert Adriene is always very calm but even she sounds strained when she keeps freezing due to signal problems. Yoga is definitely not without stress when I keep having to try and reload the app as it’s crashed. It’s also a strain when you try to keep balanced when a dog is trying to lick my face and the big boy cat is trying to use the yoga mat as a scratching toy. Yoga is supposed to be a good fit with life. It does feel that way. Today trying to hold a position which is supposed to be good for me. Actually the longer it goes on it feels less good and more a strain.

Strain….. Trying to be ahead of the curve and get Hawklads Christmas presents sorted early. This year will not allow me the fun of Christmas shopping in the local city so its online only. I worked hard to come up with 6 ideas. Unfortunately 5 of those are already out of stock. Maybe others are further ahead of the curve than I am … Shopping strain.

Strain…..Not being able to find my bank card to pay for the one Christmas item… Bank card strain.

Strain….. Finally finding the bank card but then nit being able to find my glasses to read card numbers… Eye Strain.

Strain….. That’s now three weeks without any feedback on work Hawklad has submitted. Is it even been looked at?

Dad what we should do is for one subject not submit any work, rather we should send them a few screenshots of FIFA20. See what happens!!!!”

I’m so tempted to let him go ahead with his experiment. Maybe this week. It’s frustrating as it does look like it’s school at home for at least the next 3 months. Clearly unless the school is forced to shut and go full online tuition then things aren’t going to improve. This is it. It’s something but far from perfect. Will keep pushing school but I have a sinking feeling…. School strain.

Strain….. Trying to clean the kitchen and bathroom floors……. Knee strain.

Strain….. Trying to wash the house windows…….. Elbow strain.

Finally the thought of trying to get these words uploaded via the mobile. Not being able to easily read the posts I want to read. WP strain.

So yes definitely Sunday Strains.

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.

Pain

There is a physical pain associated with parenting that is off the chart. Excluding childbirth which thankfully I will never have to experience. Standing bare foot on a piece of lego. A weaponised toy. In the garden there is something that comes close to lego. It’s this lovely little thing. A tree which overlooks our garden and likes to drop these little bombs onto the lawn. Accidentally pick one up – agony. Kneel on one – agony. Get one attached to the top of your training shoe – beyond agony. Horse Chestnuts hurt….

Dad I keep hearing that as you get older your body starts to hurt. Is that true. You should know as you are so very old…..”

Yes eventually the body does hurt. Playing contact sport or falling off cliffs doesn’t help. You can do stuff about the pain – mostly. But you do get to a stage when you realise that I’ve used this body up, so can I have a new one.

So when did your body start hurting?”

Everyone is different. At school one of my friends had a Chopper Bike. It had upright handles and a gear stick brilliantly placed right in front of your undercarriage. Chris had a big crash and encountered the pointy gear stick at a frightening rate of knots. His hurting most definitely started when he was 10. It ended his choir signing days. I think my body pain started after I was 30. Playing contact sport on a Saturday and not being able to move on Sunday.

Is that when Dad decided he wasn’t young anymore?”

Yes it was. I suddenly released that being a goalkeeper hurt. I stopped bouncing off the floor so well. There is a brilliant comic from Scotland called Billy Connelly. He says that you know that you are not young anymore when your can’t bend over without making a noise, usually a groan.

I can confirm that. I groaned 193 times during today’s yoga workout.