Sunday, 20 May 2012

Operation toe touching Becca!

One of my current goals is to be able to touch my toes with my legs straight. I've never been able to do it due to tight hamstrings and calves and have been trying to improve my flexibility for a while. I've not set myself a specific goal before so to focus my attention I have decided that I want to be able to touch my toes with my hands flat on the floor by Christmas.

I do yoga at least twice a week and this will definitely help me on my quest. I've already noticed a big difference in my flexibility since I started practicing just before Christmas. However, if I'm serious about getting my hands flat on the floor I'm going to need to do more, so couple of months ago when I read a blog post by Dash about a class dedicated to the pursuit of flexibility I was intrigued.

The class is called 'Bend it Like Barbie' and is held at Frame Studios in Shoreditch on a Saturday afternoon and promises to help you rediscover the flexibility that you had as a child. It sounded like just the thing for me so for the last two Saturdays I've gone along to the class.

I was quite concerned that the class was going to be full of ballerina types working on their splits but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the people in the class were a real mix of shapes, sizes and abilities. I am without doubt among the least flexible in the groups I've been in but the teacher - Rosie - gives modifications all the way through so that everyone is able to benefit from the poses.

The class doesn't just focus on the legs - as well as stretches focussed on hip flexors and hamstrings there's a lot of work on shoulders and spine. Most of the class is done in pairs where your partner 'helps' you to get deeper into a stretch than you'd ever be able to manage on your own. Rosie also comes around to add an extra helping hand and push you just that bit further outside your comfort zone.

And I've found myself a long way outside my comfort zone! About halfway through the class Rosie announces with glee that we're going to work on bridges. I have never been able to do a bridge and I instantly get concerned. Rosie demonstrates with a volunteer what we're going to do. One person lies on the floor and lifts themselves into a bridge position while the other person helps them up by holding onto their shoulders.

I don't mind admitting that the first time I tried I was quite scared. The first week I had two attempts and didn't manage to get my arms anywhere near straight. But yesterday with the help of Rosie and Hannah (aka @Duns_is_Running) I managed to not just get into the pose but also get my arms straight. Progress!

I really enjoy this class and while it's challenging and a bit painful I can feel that it is helping me in my quest for better flexibility. After the first class I left the studios feeling taller than when I'd arrived and I had aches the next day similar to those you get after a good sports massage.

I'm definitely going to go back to this class and am even tempted to try the monthly Splits workshop - a two hour stretching workshop with Rosie

While I don't think I'll ever quite 'Bend Like Barbie', by keeping up the yoga and these classes I will be able to touch my toes by Christmas.

Bring on toe touching Becca!!


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