Three Months in Lycra Shorts

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By Henry Shires

In the last days of 2016 I was coming off three years of heart-triggered depression that had robbed me of the will to exercise, if not the will to live. I began a six-weeks-long chronic pain management program at the Caulfield Hospital for my heart and related chest and back pain.

Couple of weeks of baby steps exercise in and my improved mood could already see that a large part of the hospital’s program was basic Pilates. Now, that I  had practiced regularly in a previous less careworn life.

So a timely cheap trial offer by new kids on the Balaclava block, The Daily Dose Studio, and I was pitching a story idea of this account of my progress from weak to weekly. The deal:  I would write an honest account of my three months at the studio for a discounted membership.

And, after the momentary expression of uncertainty that seems to inevitably accompany initial exposure to me they, agreed. Graciously and gratefully, even.

From day one, I reaped healthy and quick dividends from the more ‘Pilates, with its emphasis on function and pain free alignment and engaging the out-of-practice “core”, and the Yoga with its ‘mindful and spiritual’ aspects.

The good thing about not being able to do exercise or yoga for a while, is how much you appreciate them when you are finally can. And because it has become unfamiliar to the body, the effects can be felt with full force.

Even when feeling crap entering the class, Yoga quickly removed discomfort, aches and pain and that all-to-common sensation of ‘just not feeling right’. And after finishing the class lying in corpse pose anyone who is not a member of The Walking Dead should feel a freer, lighter, and even a nicer person.

Does this mean that my three-times-a-week trips did not have their physical and psychological speed bumps? Absolutely not.

If you have been proficient or even just good at any physical discipline (as I had been at Yoga in a land and life long, long ago) there is always a big battle for the ego in dealing with the toxic cocktail of sadness, disappointment, and even envy that comes with the territory of being the old duffer at the back of the room. My yoga teacher wife, Louise says I was propped up by so many bolsters and blankets that I “might as well just be lying on the sofa, watching TV”.

Which of course is false. The proof of the pudding (or more accurately, pudding reducing) properties of Yoga being that unlike couch lounging, it invariably leaves you feeling invigorated, inspired and, ALIVE.

Whereas, permanently planting yourself in the a sofa inevitably just induces greater fatigue, lassitude and rapidly spreading ennui.

Another exciting find on route was the more unusual form of yoga known as Yin, which is one of the specialities of the, by and large, highly trained and experienced Daily Dose family.

And if you have seen the oft-tattooed-on-surfer-dudes symbol of the opposing swirls of Yin and the Yang forming one whole circle, then you may also know that this represents the essential dichotomies of existence. Day and night. Dark and light. Male and female.

And, unlike the harder forms of yoga , Astanga and Vinyasa Flow, Yin involves not aerobic exercise, but stretching strongly into postures for much longer periods of three to five minutes.

As a result of which, after 3 months of intensive stretching and a demanding inner journey, though I am still tubby and not much more cardiovascularly fit, even Louise agrees, I am less inflexible and more confident.

Both in mind and body.

And if you decide to try a regular dose of The Daily Dose, yourself (it is more economical and as yet, less over-subscribed than your average Pilates provider), you are very likely to see me there.

Because, I hope and dicky heart permitting, the second great Yoga journey of my life has only just begun.

I’ll be the old, plumb duffer at the back. Bolstered almost to the ceiling! Holler if you see me.

 

With Pilates and Yin Yoga at The Daily Dose, Balaclava.

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