Philippa Redfern

5th February 2019

TGIF. Thank God It’s February. The shortest month, following what is indisputably the longest month of the year. Sure, the calendar says there’s only 31 days but I am convinced all the hours in January spent regretting the excessive mulled wine consumption and lying in bed feeling guilty about not using that ClassPass membership or sticking to Dry Jan equate to at least an additional 24 hours.

To further exasperate my innate Catholic Guilt, I decided to look back at the note I made on my phone at 3:21am on 01/01/19 detailing all the ways I would improve and really make this year, my year. So far, I’ve not taken up those conversational German classes (although I did google it), I’ve not listened to more podcasts (this list looks great though), I did put some money into savings but swiftly removed it when rent day rolled around and I did delete Tinder for at least a weekend. So a mixed bag, but the one resolution that I had completely forgotten about and feel no shame over is ‘Get super into yoga clasaasses’ (remember, it was 3:21am).

I gave it a go and I came out of class number one feeling great, kinda lightheaded and lacking in spatial awareness, but great. Then, second class, I’d had something of a busy day and just wanted to clear my head a bit so, bingo, my new pal, yoga. During this venture, I realised there’s a whole lot of lying around ‘relaxing’ at the start, where you can spend a whole lot of time thinking about all those emails that need dealing with and that passive aggressive voicemail from the landlord (we’re still 100% sure we didn’t invite the mice in, Mel), whilst listening to a lot of deep breathing. I was decidedly not ‘acknowledging the thoughts and worries and letting them drift from your brain’, I was clinging on to, over-analysing and silently catastrophizing over those bad boys.

And do you know what else, when you’ve got an attentive, decent teacher and they show you how to do the exercises probably, it’s tough, yoga’s a hard work out. Why does everyone else look so comfortable and relaxed whilst I’m wobbling like a wheelie suitcase on the Northern Line? So I came out annoyed, tired, wanting to tell everyone how, actually, I’m quite fit and I have, actually, run half marathons before, whilst dashing past the zen, Lulelemon-clad yoga goddesses to get back to my iPhone and sort my life out.

I’ve realised that relaxation and giving your brain a break isn’t a prescriptive, one size fits all thing. The antithesis to meditation, but it turns out the easiest way I can forget my worries and relax, is to do an hour of really intense, aggressive physical activity. Twice a week, I take to the netball court and unwaveringly come up against attackers who wilfully ignore the ‘non-contact’ part of the sport. I’ve taken up boxing classes, same deal, never been more chilled and full of endorphins than after a punching session. Ski holidays are the greatest de-stresser I’ve found, you can only worry so much about whether you set up that Direct Debit for the internet when you’re trying to say alive, hurtling down a mountain.

Give me a punchbag over a yoga mat any day of the week.

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