Where have I been?

It’s been a while. What can I say?!

Here we are in Autumn and I’m still a mile away from running but yogaing on.

I’m thinking I should start a new blog as I haven’t run for over a year now and while injury is injury, my chances of getting back to running look increasingly slim.

I don’t know. What do you think?

While you think I should tell you what I’ve been doing. Working mostly.

As I type a man called Steve is fitting my new kitchen downstairs for which I have been saving. For-ever.

I’m attempting to blog from my phone here so how I get pix in I’m not sure…
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Yoga, sunshine and a six foot lion

The tendons in my left leg are slowly but surely stretching, the muscles are getting stronger and that’s in no small part thanks to yoga.

When I think how tight my tendons and muscles were around my arthritic hip and down my leg last Autumn, when early onset osteoarthritis was diagnosed… I was in pain most of the time, I couldn’t sit cross-legged without my left knee being up in the air – and I immediately tipped over to the right. Bit of a mess really.

Nine months of physio, strengthening exercises and yoga and I’m almost balanced. I’m now on to a course of core strengthening, squats and lunges.

I go to classes weekly and practice daily but in the Autumn I started taking yoga more seriously and i wanted to study it in more depth so I began a monthly, all-day Saturday yoga course which ended last week.

Best feet forward in yoga

Best feet forward in yoga

It was a sad-happy day full of laughter and tears as the group talked about what they’d gained from the course. It’s powerful stuff, yoga. It can change much more than your body. It can open your heart and help you mould the way you view life. Sad though it was to say our ‘good-byes’ at 5 o’clock, it’s not a complete goodbye as we’re all getting together in December for a full day of yoga with our beloved teacher. And some of us will see each other before then, because a number of us – including me – are going on to yoga teacher training.

Believe it or not, even in the north, the sun is shining.

Bolton - early morning sunshine

Bolton – early morning sunshine

This is Bolton. Yes, that’s right – not Bath, Bolton. We have a beautiful cobbled crescent and as I trotted off to work on Friday I snapped some views for the University facebook page. The town hall was looking pretty gorgeous too.

Bolton Town Hall

Bolton Town Hall

And on Tuesday I made a new friend in Bolton, Lofty the Lion.

Lofty the Lion

Lofty the Lion

Lofty was at a local primary school, helping one of our graduates tell children about their new green energy business as the mascot of the town’s football team where their company, FibrLec, is principal sponsor.

The children loved Lofty and, of course, it’s difficult to resist a big cuddly lion. As you can see!

Lofty the Lion

You can’t resist hugging Lofty.

Physio score!

Well, believe it or not, all that cake eating on holiday has done my arthritis no harm at all.

Yes I am being cured by cake!

Well maybe not. Let’s say the stiffness in my hip is easing and I’ve been doing my physio exercises everyday and my yoga every day and eating enough oily fish to lubricate the stiffest of joints.

But my hips are definitely wearing the odd slice of cake.

At physio my hips were almost even. Possibly one more session. Woohoo.

Of course being off work I’ve been doing a lot of yoga.

At yoga school we were asked to make a structure out of 11 sheets of the Guardian that could stand up. It was part of a team bonding exercise.

IMG_2802

Meet Wellington. (Our yoga school sessions are in a chapel on Wellington Road).

And if you look carefully at his ear, I’m pretty sure Mel has managed to twist the paper to say ‘bark’…

Yoga school

Namaste people

On Saturday I got up early for yoga school. It’s not really called yoga school, it’s called British Wheel of Yoga Foundation 1. Snappy. So in my head it’s yoga school.

I’ve been on this course since last Autumn and loving it. I’ve learned about aspects of yoga beyond asana such as pranayama, mudra, dhyana. It’s like reading a great book and then someone saying ‘oh, didn’t you know that’s just one in a whole series?’ And then suddenly you’re tucking into the other books and being blown away by how the story unfolds.

This is me at 6.30am on a Saturday morning. Don’t ask me what my hair is doing, but it is clean.

Asleep? Almost...

Asleep? Almost…

This is what I need to eat to keep me going until lunch time. A lot of porridge, with nuts, seeds and fruit.

Brekkie

Brekkie

This Saturday we did lateral extension and twists – focusing on asanas like triangle and sage pose, which are great for the muscles around my arthritic left hip.

arriving at yoga school

arriving at yoga school

Muscles which, I think, are slowly but surely releasing. It’s a real lesson in patience, regaining mobility in muscle stiffness. But it is possible.

This foundation course ends in June. I’m going to miss the women from the course. With them I’ve learned, laughed and expanded my understanding, of life, the world and how to manage the stresses we are subject to as we try to earn a living, manage our homes and relationships, plan for our futures…

And I’ve eaten a lot of cake. Oh yes, cake. Several women in the group are great bakers. Mel, I swear, is a baking goddess. Her lemon drizzle… unbelievably moist and zesty. I didn’t think I even liked cake!

Yoga cat

Did you know many yoga asanas are based on the movement of animals?

Makes sense, doesn’t it, the natural stretching they do can flex and strengthen our office-battered, car-traffic-commute-from-hell stressed bodies.

Fifi is a yogini supreme. She can relax with the best.

Fifi does Shavasana

Fifi does Shavasana

She likes to meditate.

cat meditates

Fifi contemplates her chakras, probably

And sometimes she likes to gate-crash my relaxation session.

cat gatecrashes yoga

That blanket’s for my benefit, not yours, missy

Yoga on and be as one

It’s the last day of yoga month today.

At 7pm all around the world yogis are doing yoga together. That’s 7pm your time, so not literally together otherwise some of us would be up in the middle of the night.

But then time isn’t real is it; it’s a man-made construct. This is a togetherness that’s not literal – very yoga.

Erkhart Yoga has made an Open Your Heart 90-minute session for tonight. There’s 15 minutes relaxation and 15 minutes meditation, so it’s not 90 minutes physical work.

I’m yoga greedy – I did this yesterday afternoon. it’s lovely. There’s something very freeing and calming about fourth chakra-focused yoga.

Of course, before 7pm tonight I have plenty to do – when I finish this blog entry I’m sitting down to write a magazine article about knowledge transfer and how a local company here managed to move forward during recession while it’s competitors lost market share.

Enjoy your Sundays people. Namaste

Yoga month keeping me sane

Apparently September is yoga month. Who knew that?

If you look on youtube there are hundreds of yogis out there happy to share their yoga sessions. I particularly love the women in Sedona who demonstrate asanas against crystal rocks and dazzling blue skies.

But Eckhart Yoga is celebrating yoga month with new online classes every few days, each week focusing on one aspect of yoga. This weeks it’s twists, which I’ve really been enjoying.

Just as well, because running is out. My muscles or tendons or whatever’s in there, won’t stop tightening around my knee, so I’ve resigned myself to a few weeks of physio before I ease back in. September is also ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, according to Keats. Season of approaching winter here in the UK, but what can you do? I’m thinking ‘buy another waterproof’ because it’ll be 24-7 end of the world bleugh weather before I get to run again.

Rainbow at work

Rainbow at work

Still, the good things about yoga – you can do it with the cat. She loves sleeping beside me while I stretch out. And of course as soon as I sit to meditate she’s after my lap. Not as distracting as you’d think and doubly relaxing.

Hippy, hippy stretch

My hip tightness is easing 😀 and that’s down to yoga.

I’ve tried rollering by ITBS and in some ways it’s helpful, but the tightness in that outer knee area is impossible to get to. And it didn’t really solve the hip tightness, which was turning into added lower back tightness – big ouch.

But I have found the solution in yoga. I’ve been doing yoga since I was eight, you’d think I’d cotton on to the answer being where I know.

On YouTube now there are dozens of demonstrations. Really helpful in helping anyone self-practice. I love the Ekhart Yoga’s contribution to sharing knowledge. They have a subscribe website, but they also have dozens of free sessions on-line – including hip-openers.

How when I run I get a tightness around my knee still and I can feel my hip, but the tightening across my lower back has stopped, I don’t limp when I stop running and start walking either.

I love this session – but there’s a lot to choose from. Enjoy.

Running towards the big day

I got an email from the Great Manchester 10k people today – two weeks to go! On 20 May me and 40,000 other people are going to thunder round Manchester in hopefully slightly less wintery weather than we’ve got today.

Needless to say I have a cold – for two nights now I have driven MrM to sleeping on the sofa to escape my 2am coughing and wheezing.

running trail

running trail

Yesterday I went out for an early morning trot around the trails. My airways free enough to be almost overpowered by the smell of hawthorn. The mayflower is coming out too now – all very pretty. I did four miles in 43 mins 21 secs.

Mayflower

Mayflower

Hawthorn

Hawthorn

Ordinarily I would have been training with Adam on getting faster, but Adam was at a stag party on Saturday night and so we’re training Tuesday.

Running trail home

Running trail home

Today has been all work (I know, flaming Bank Holiday as well, but needs must) and yoga. There’s something very comforting about yoga, even if the plough position does challenge breathing at the best of times.

Kettlebells and asanas, like Fred and Ginger

Today’s my non-running day.

I like to do something though, a day without physical challenge doesn’t feel right these days.

In December I bought a kettlebell, 6kg, and I’m getting lots of use out of it. There’s something fun about swinging a Kettlebell about. Tests thebody but keeps the mind engaged. This website has some demonstration videos if you’re interested.

And after swinging my Kettlebell about I did some yoga. Yoga is great for stretching and for identifying imbalances in your body. If you’re not wild about the idea of spending 90 minutes running through a series of postures there is one that is highly recommended.

I’ve read many times that if you only do one yoga move, do the sun salutation.

Of course, that’s a bit of a cheat as the sun salutation is a sequence of positions designed to stretch and strengthen your body top to toe. I like to run through it five times and feel the tightness melt away from my calf muscles. And hamstrings and shoulders and lower back… For instance, while in downward dog (about half way through the sequence) I can tell my left calf is tighter than my right.

Next? Corpse position, technical name – savasana. Savasana isn’t as easy as it looks. It’s not just lying still. It’s about quietening the body and the mind.

Now that’s a challenge for me!

But now I’m crashed out on the sofa, watching a cheesy murder mystery and trying to resist the call of the chocolate Easter bunnies in the pantry. Gotta love chill out day.