Flexibility of a Tree Trunk

Since we have a year off, we have no excuse but to get in shape. We have the time.

I wrote a blog a while back about getting old, it sucks. Dirk and I are now experiencing aches and pains, mostly in our backs. There are nights we can’t sleep due to the pain and wake up not so refreshed. His has a surprising amount of arthritis in his spine, mine an old soccer injury that is raising its ugly head again.

I decided to tried running to get back in shape. It is an easy work out without having to buying a expensive membership that, in the end, I would probably not use. Running is something you can do anywhere in the world and, since we are travelling, I decided it was a great choice. I started by taking it very slow at the beginning and only going short distances until I could build up to a 5 km run. After about of month, I was ready to do the 5 km run again. It did not end well. After only me second 5 km run, I didn’t walk without pain for two days as my knees were so sore.

That’s when I decided to start doing yoga with Dirk. He had found an app called ‘Yoga Studio‘ and was very excited about it. Yoga is also great for travelling. All you need is small clothing and about an hour. Ever city has yoga. Do it by the pool, in the hotel room, on the beach or in a park.

Being new to yoga, I had no idea about the moves so hearing camel, rabbit, fish, cobra, pigeon had me wondering why they are all named after animals. What was I getting myself into?

I also realized I am as flexible as a tree trunk. So forward bends that have you reaching for your toes and placing your chest to your thighs was not happening. I was merely waving my hands in the air above my toes. After the first few sessions, my hamstrings were in pain. Walking was very difficult.

A month passes and things are looking up. I no longer think it strange to be told to move into King Dancer. Gone are the aches and pains after practicing. I am starting to feel great about my progress. Then Dirk insists we need to move out of the beginner sessions and onto the intermediate.

Now, the new aches and pains begin. I had only gotten my larger muscles use to the daily stretching and bending, but the little guys were still not included in my progress. Within a few days, it is not the stiffness that returns, but old aches of injuries past. I can’t sit back on my tail bone, it is too painful. Even going the bathroom hurts. How can yoga be good for you if you can’t shit without pain?

During the second month, I start to get use to these constant aches, even welcoming them as progress. I am seeing a different in my body. Muscles are forming. I no longer fear the dreaded yoga push-up but welcome it as a sign of my improvement.

Unfortunately, on the third month, things start to slow down and we don’t practice as often. We are moving city to city faster. Leaving early in the morning when we would have been doing yoga. Rooms are also smaller so there is no room to practice. Going outside is not an option, in the 42C heat, both of us would pass out in the first 5 minutes.

Month four begins and we have not practiced in a week. I am sick so the thought of any bending makes my already hurting head worse. As I slowly heal, I am able to return to our daily yoga regime, but I seemed to have taken a step back. I guess that is why they call it ‘practice’ as if you don’t keep it up, you may lose what you worked so hard to gain.

In the end, I no longer feel like a tree trunk, my flexibly has improved to what I fondly called ‘a green stick’.

Here are a few pictures of my progress – as you can see – month four has taken a step back.

Travel Tip:

Staying in shape is hard at the best of times. Staying is shape on vacation is exponentially harder when all you do is eat and drink. After the first month, we had gain about 4 kg each. This spurred on a few changes to our travel life. Drinking was only at night and not every night. Yoga is a great travel workout. You can do it in your hotel room or if your lucky, the hotel has a fitness centre. Adding cardio is key. Walk as much as you can each day. Try to avoid snacking during the day, but if you do grab a piece fruit.


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