Fit in my 40s: Its more than yoga its a complete system for loving yourself


Its about relaxation, but has downward dogs and planks, childs poses, things that look low-voltage, but are quite challenging

I dont really want to sell Adriene Mishler to you on the basis of how many YouTube subscribers she has. But OK, its 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.

Its more than yoga its 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, childs poses, those things that look low-voltage, but are actually quite challenging. Day four, Prana, started with a lot of breathing atechnique called kapalbhati pranayama, which seems impossible to describe. Its meant to clean the frontal lobes. It sounds a bit like the breathing thing that doesnt help when youre in labour. There is no way to test your lobe cleanliness, so you never know whether youre doing it right.

Some of the language is perplexing: Were not padding the knees because we have bad knees were padding the knees because its an act of love and playfulness. Adriene, for such aphysically 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 shes 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. Ican get nearer my toes and do abetter plank.

The hardest bit by far is finding 30 minutes every day. I couldnt 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 torely on Adriene. She has a wholesome face anda 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.

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