Since returning from South Africa I have become an avid fan of hot yoga. More specifically, I have become an ardent supporter of a studio in Bayswater called Pure Hot Yoga. In my early 20’s I would drive 40kms from my parents home in Narre Warren North to a Bikram studio in Richmond, often at 6am before I needed to get to university which was another 20kms away. The classes were 90 minutes long and I was never able to sustain my dedication for more than a couple of months here and there as the time commitment wasn’t suitable for a law student trying to hold down several jobs. Luckily circumstances have changed and I am relieved that this studio is far closer to my home in the hills, the classes are a more manageable 60 minutes and there are a range of classes offered.
For a runner I am relatively bendy with the exception of my ankles which have a horrid range of movement. My focus in taking on the practice of yoga isn’t on flexibility, rather learning how to be physically present and mentally in the moment (the latter being the biggest challenge for me).
Like crossfit must be for cross fitters, there is a real community feel to being part of a yoga studio. No class is ever easy for me and despite being initially disturbed and uncomfortable by the amount of sweat that was being produced by myself and everyone else in the class, I feel this sense of accomplishment as I walk out of the room. Perhaps I am learning to appreciate space and intermittent single-minded focus.
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There is something special and sacred for me about being able to move my body without restriction. This form of expression has evolved and grown over the years – from being an enthusiastic but mediocre participant of many sports during school, a performing arts student at university (who was generally casted in distinctly unusual character roles), an endurance runner, and a lover of the practice of yoga.
If I flash back to my first ultramarathon in 2010 it was a 250km race in the Atacama Desert in Chile. It was about as far away from Melbourne as I could get. I was attracted to the travel and adventure associated with that race, but I also wanted to remove myself from my network of friends and families on the chance that I would mentally and physically breakdown and not complete the race.
Through completing the enormity of that physical challenge I discovered that running comes down to the mental preparation you put into it. This applies to most things in life. I truly believe that if you want something enough, it doesn’t matter how little experience you have. That desire will enable you to work hard enough to get yourself adequately prepared (both mentally and physically). The time it takes to do something is of little interest or focus for me. What I am intrigued by, is the process and experiences you draw from doing that thing.
I guess I am often in disbelief that my body allows me to explore and run in some of the most incredible places around the world, often places that are rarely seen by people. Because I wasn’t always capable of doing this, because of my own imposed physical and mental restrictions, I now have a huge appreciation for this freedom.