Move Your Asana

Guest post from our Tri-sista-in law, Michelle about taking up Yoga.


I was about to embark on my new fitness regime after months of absence and Yoga seemed to crop up everywhere as the accompaniment to any workout; for achieving the most from your body and ultimately reaching your goals. My goal was just to get fitter but I could not deny the fact that increased flexibility could only help and maybe this could be the way to break me in gently. Flexibility has never been my strong point and as my Mum says; I am about as bendy as an ironing board…..

After hours of googling my local classes I was spoilt for choice. But it was terrifying. The thought of bringing my very unbendy body along to a class likely to be full of people able to achieve all sorts of weird positions was a real put off. Yes, they all say beginners welcome – but I really was a complete beginner who could not even touch my toes (or get anywhere near them).

Eventually I received an email reply from a local class stating that they had availability in a complete beginner’s class the next day at 0900.  I immediately accepted – that was it, I was committed and booked in. I dug out some leggings and a loose top and most importantly touched up my nail polish….

I walked in to the room – late as usual – and very flustered.  The room was light and airy with a warm wooden floor and gentle music playing. Four Yoga mats were meticulously laid out with all the associated equipment placed next to them with precision. I looked across to the front and saw the instructor, a lady, sat crossed legged on her mat and immediately noted her suitably amazing posture. I walked across to introduce myself and was immediately dismissed back to the door to remove my shoes.  Is this something you are meant to know??  Did I miss a sign??

I shamefully re-entered for the second time and chose a mat and joined in with the crossed legged seating position as we waited for the rest of the group to arrive – who much to my relief also walked in with shoes on……

During the 60 minute session, it honestly felt like we just lay around on mats, adopted a few easy poses and mostly took lots of deep breaths to uplifting softly spoken words by the instructor. It was very relaxing and my body felt at least 2 inches longer at the end. I certainly felt it was beneficial but I did not feel it had any real impact towards my fitness goals – It didn’t feel like a work out – would I return?  I was not sure.

The next morning my alarm went off and I leap out of bed – well at least my mind thought I had – my body remained.  I could not move without squealing over my aches and pains.  Crikey – it had done something, I was amazed.  How could lying down and breathing manage to work out so many muscle groups….? Safe to say I felt like I had done a 2 hour long circuit class but I actually hadn’t even broken into a sweat.

I am now hooked and extremely intrigued.  If you have never tried Yoga, give it a go – be as amazed as I am!!!!



The lane of general bewilderment

Swimming Lane Etiquette

The man touched my foot, that man touched my foot!!  I swam as fast as I could go to get to the end of the lane to let him past.  I felt humiliated at first quickly followed by a surge of rage.  Oh I’m so slow,  was I going too slow,  how dare he touch me,  why was he in my lane, why couldn’t he just be patient and wait till the end of the lane,  it would only have been a few seconds for goodness sake….

The complexities of swimming lane etiquette were something completely new to me, I was new at swimming front crawl properly,  only just graduated from the very pleasant breaststroke slow lanes and trying to get my speed and distance up to do Swimathon,  swim holidays and eventually triathlon.

Moving from the Slow/Medium lanes into the Fast lanes introduces you to the world of the competition swimmers, either those who swam competitively in their youth or are competing today in Masters Teams or triathlon.   So what is the etiquette, what should you worry about if you are trying a few lengths in these lanes or looking to graduate there permanently.  I can’t pretend to be an expert, but these are a few of the guidelines that I try to follow and wish that everyone else would too…

  1. When you arrive at the pool, check out the lanes, number of people in them and general speed. Just because you normally go in the fast lane doesn’t mean that you should always go in the fast lane. Sometimes these lanes are absolutely chock full and awash with thrashing limbs, in these scenarios it makes more sense to swim in the medium lanes and keep an eye on the fast lanes to see if they slow down or empty out.  It may be that all the lanes are full, in this case I would always choose the slower lane option to start with and move up later on if I can.  It’s just not worth the stress of killing yourself swimming as fast as you can to keep up.
  2. In the scenario that someone in your lane is faster than you, then let them go first and wait for them to pass.My general rule of thumb is if someone is less than a quarter of a lap behind you and gaining, it will be better for you and them if you let them pass. Pushing on regardless just means you will stress for the whole of the next length. If someone lets you pass, give them a quick thank you or a smile (prefer a thank you,   my smile midsession sometimes look more like a grimace which must be horrifying). If someone is in front of you that you need to overtake but they are not stopping (give them a lengths grace just in case they didn’t see you) then just cut of the end of that length and turn in front of them (look both ways of course). Personally I would never touch someone’s foot, if you are in that much of a hurry maybe you are in the wrong lane/session/swimming pool.
  3. If you are kicking/pulling/breast stroking/backstroking, make sure you are in a slower lane than normal. You can always move up for your fast sets later. Try and allow more of a gap than for normal lengths and graciously let people pass you.
  4. If you accidentally clobber someone with your legs or arms, and I mean clobber not just accidentally touch, then wait at the end of the lane to apologise. It happens to everyone. I’ve been smacked in the face and also kicked someone in the face before, most people are generally pretty forgiving but I have had one person shout at me after an unfortunate leg/face interaction. It happens, try not to take it personally.
  5. If you are resting in between sets, keep an eye on swimmers coming and try to stay out of the way. Don’t hog the ends, be considerate. Make it clear you are resting – I always pull my goggles up. If you are just chatting, pull your legs up on the side (or get out – chatting is for changing rooms, and coffee afterwards!).

Last but not least, and not only for the ladies, there are some of us who are extremely comfortable with their bodies and their nakedness and that is wonderful, however please spare a thought when you are changing for other people’s personal space.  Revel in your wondrous nakedness but please just don’t do it too close to me…

Love swimmers, love swimming


Adult Swimming Lessons

[I came, I swam, I conquered – for the non-Latin speakers i.e. everyone]

I could never not swim, I went to lessons when I was young and got all the badges but I was never very good and I hated putting my face in the water. (I still do, I can shower and wash my hair and not a drop will touch my face) so when there was no longer any drive to improve my swimming other than to be able to splash about on a Saturday afternoon at Fareham leisure centre with my friends then I just didn’t bother.

When I got older the only reason to swim was either when I was on holiday (and then just floating up and down was required) and the 2 times I have been pregnant where I forced myself to go because everyone told me what good exercise it was etc and when you are pregnant you’ll do anything to make sure your baby is ok although quite how or why swimming was going to do this I am still not sure.

So I avoided it. Then my sisters started swimming together on Sunday mornings and going for lovely breakfasts without me, then they went on a swim trek holiday together and secretly I felt a bit jealous but not enough to actually go swimming and then we decided to do this Triathlon. So here I am effectively a non-swimmer, about to sign up to swim 2.5k in open water. Apparently you can do breaststroke…..! But if I am going to do it I want to freestyle, which is what the serious people do.

This is where adult swim lessons have come in. We, all three, have signed up, the sisters to “improve their techniques” (bastards) and me to learn to put my face in the water and to do something other than breaststroke.

It was fairly terrifying to start, there are 8 of us of varying abilities (a couple of non-swimmers like me, some middle people and a couple of super fast people) and one teacher, we generally get a lane each (which is absolute bliss, I hate lane etiquette, it makes me so anxious) and it is in a pool that belongs to a local private school so quiet and lovely and clean.

The teacher had me swim freestyle for a length while she watched me (I didn’t make it a whole length) and then we did some beginner drills to practice kicking, arms and breathing with various floats. I discovered I can breathe much better on one side than the other (is this true of everyone??) and that I have been panic swimming up to now i.e. swimming as fast as I can while holding my breath until I can’t hold it any longer then swallowing loads of water. Once I had a pull buoy between my legs and could just focus on my arms I realised that it was ok to swim slowly and breathe whenever I wanted to. Obvious right? Apparently not for me. By the end of the session I could swim a length of freestyle and not collapse at the end of it.

By the end of session 2 I could swim 2 lengths, my technique is still terrible but I feel like I have made a massive breakthrough. I am actually looking forward to swimming! We worked out that by the time of the Swimathon in April, if my improvement continues exponentially (!), I might actually be able to make it the 50 lengths I have signed up to do….Its a start.