A few big things happened to me earlier this year…
I’ve gone on attachment within the BBC (I’m working on live coverage for events and programmes such as The Great British Bake Off), and I discovered (thanks to this article by Bryony Gordon) that I have a form of OCD, subsequently making it easier to deal with varying levels of anxiety brought on my repetitive (and often distressing) thought patterns. Another change was the unexpected end of a 15 month long relationship, which had switched to long distance mode for the last four months and was likely to continue that way.
There are things that I know are triggers for my OCD, break-ups aside, including caffeine and alcohol (particularly the day after even one large glass of wine – certainly not hangover levels), and so I know I should avoid these or bear in mind that when I’m anxious, I’m partly facing the consequences of my actions. And when your mind is constantly on high alert, and the NHS has a three month waiting list for CBT, it’s hard to make further changes – I knew meditation probably wasn’t going to be practical for me. As someone who tries to box, circuit train, run, dance and Zumba as much as possible (but with limited home space), I wanted to try something physical, free and independent.
And so I discovered Yoga with Adriene. Adriene is an actor and yoga teacher from Texas who hosts an extremely popular YouTube channel, releasing a video each week. Luckily for me, I’ve caught on a few years into her video career, which means there’s a constantly a wealth of videos for me to choose from; from her 30 Days of Yoga playlist, to her Yoga for Weight Loss series and her technique videos. There’s workouts for every mood and schedule; from 3 minutes looking at strengthening the wrists to a full hour of fat-burning moves.
Adriene is so warm, bubbly and likeable – as well as easy to follow. Once you’ve been following her videos for a month or so, the flow between moves becomes more intuitive, although I’m constantly adding new poses to by yoga bank. Even now, when I’m a bit under the weather, I know I can pick one of her more nurturing videos (yes, she has one for when you’re feeling sick).
I’ve hooked my YouTube account up with my Xbox so I can play the videos on my TV and I practice using a cheap yoga mat from Sports Direct and a £2 foam yoga block I bought from Tiger. I’d genuinely thought that yoga wouldn’t be for me; I’ve had a regular exercise routine for at least four years now (starting in my bedroom with Davina McCall DVDs), and thought I’d find it boring. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Although taking part in the videos is fun, the end is usually the best for me; most videos end in a shavasana (or corpse pose), where you basically lie on your back for as long as you want. Given the moves you’ve just done – focusing your mind and body to work together – it leads to a natural state of contented relaxation.
I do believe that what happens to you in a space affects the way your body reacts when your return to it. For example, when you feel fine in the morning, but find you feel ill upon entering your workplace building – something that can be brought on by work-related stress. This can be alleviated once you reclaim the space in a positive way. (I genuinely think all offices should run exercise classes in their buildings – dancing can change the way your subconscious associates itself with that space, as well as being brilliant fun). Now my living room is also my yoga studio, it feels like a different, warmer space. I celebrated its revised context with a makeover too…
Oh yes, you’ve probably not seen my living room before – this ‘feature wall’ used to be white with poorly framed posters. Now it’s got a few coats of paint I picked up for £8 from B&Q and a David Shrigley print I picked up from the Tate Modern for the same price. It’s a fresh start, and one I’m really enjoying.