People, We Need To Talk About Balls.

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I’m not talking chocolate salty balls, or the sort we have to grow in pairs to push out of our comfort zone. I’m talking Yoga Balls. Or Balance Balls. Or, as I have already come to name mine, Bastard Ball. 

I had a few sessions with a fabulous trainer a couple of months ago. Circumstances have altered since then, making any more impossible for the foreseeable future at least, but everything he showed me, is logged in the old grey matter. I have to take my hat off to the guy. I can’t believe he gets clients any less fit than me, but he didn’t raise an eyebrow as I puffed and panted walking ten yards on the treadmill. Nor did he flinch as I wailed at the 2kg dumb bells he handed me, and to my horror, couldn’t control in a safe nor lady-like manner. “Not a problem,” he said; and handed me some 1kg weights instead. I wailed again. “Still not a problem,” he reassured me and handed me a couple of peapods instead. The workout went well from that point, once we’d established exactly what my level was.

I probably didn’t burn more than a 100 calories that day, but I walked out of the gym feeling 10 feet tall and empowered, and my mood was elevated for days. One of the other things he introduced me to was the Bastard Ball; and in a bid to recapture that incredible jubilant feeling, I finally purchased one to use at home.

“Simple!” Thinks I.

Buy it, blow it up, work it. Slinky Dinky Rejuvenated Me!

As with many great plans ( especially mine … and I do have many… on an hourly basis), things didn’t quite go as I expected them to.

Blowing it up. Let’s start there! The box said ‘Pump Included’. Hastily I ripped open my new toy, pulled out a flaccid rubber item ( the ball folks!), and then this thing drops out after it. Something akin to what you might find in a Christmas Cracker. A Cheap Christmas Cracker. That was the pump.  After much examining of pointy plastic bits, chin rubbing  and sucking in air, I still hadn’t figured out how to make it work and deftly handed it over to The Captain and The Colonel to deal with. In all fairness, they did well. It only took them an hour, two punch ups and one tantrum / storming and  I had my ball.

“Great!” Thinks I. “I’ll just read the instruction leaflet to make sure I’ve got everything covered.”  In teeny print at the bottom it read ‘leave ball for 24 hours to get used to its new expansion’.

Que?

I was fairly certain they weren’t referring to the balls spiritual progression, but a threat of possible splitage or explosion, that risk I suspect being much greater when about to be plopped on by a female such as me with  ( to steal a phrase from Plenty of Fish) a few *cough* extra pounds. Despite much reassurance from my FaceBook tribe, I decided to err on the side of caution and leave the grand christening until today.

Despite the period of grace I’d given it to adjust, it was still with some trepidation that I leaned across it this morning, fully expecting one almighty bang as the last ounce of my full body weight succumbed to the ‘power of the ball’.

There was no bang!! I have no idea what witchcraft they use to make these things, but it held my weight!! 

I pressed start on the YouTube Yoga Ball for Beginners video I’d found.

“How hard can it be?” says I. Outloud. “It’s only ten minutes long.”

Well, let me tell you, it could be very sodding hard, and it was. I didn’t even know I could travel across my bedroom, horizontally, at that speed. But seemingly, I can. And that was only whilst I tried to get into the correct position for the back stretch.

The whole session swiftly disintegrated into me, playing ‘ball-boy’ for half an hour. How do people DO those positions and movements without the bloody thing shooting out from beneath them like a pinball machine?

And then we need to talk about the issue of boobage. Seriously.

I’ve tried pushing them up, pushing them down … even attempted one either side of the Bastard Ball at one point. I’m only left with two options now. Sucking them in, or tying them up behind the back of my head. It’s really painful!! I’m sure the guys wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about playing football if they had to have their knackers clamped in a vice for the entirety of the match.

I crawled out of the room a sweaty, but triumphant, mess. Not sure how much I’ve actually benefited from it exercise wise, but I smashed the Ghost of Procrastination in the bollox and that will always be a great achievement.

I may try again tomorrow, or I may not. I’m undecided. The last piece of fitness equipment I bought, that stands neatly behind my bedroom door, is near to reaching it’s full capacity of how many clothes it can hold. Additional storage may be required.

I’m never going to love exercise, but I’m working on not hating it.

 

Do Yoga. Breathe Deep. Just Not Too Deep.

AnnieYogaLine

(Artwork provided by, and copyrighted to Patrick Barrett www.patrickbarrettart.com Instagram: patrick_barrett_art. No reproduction without written permission from the artist.)

 

One of my best friends recently discovered the joys of yoga. “I feel all floppy,” she said. “I feel as though I want to hug everyone.” Thankfully she didn’t. I don’t cope well with hugging at the best of times, and less so when they are being dished out by the newest member of the Happy Clappy Brigade. But it took me back to the time I attempted to ‘find myself’ through the power of Yoga.

I was twenty-six. Working, travelling, socialising. Life was fabulous. Sleep got sacrificed. Eight hours a night reduced to seven, six, then five. It took its toll. It was with grey skin and baggy eyes that I fell through the door of the class, dragging my house-mate behind me. Clutching our newly purchased mats under our arms, and wearing our newly purchased co-ordinated outfits, we confidently strode in. We were delighted when were greeted by what could only be described as Gaia, in human form. She had long flowing hair, skin like a baby, eyes that twinkled with an all knowing wisdom, henna tattoos across her feet and jingly jewellery around her ankle. Her voice was hypnotic. Melodic. We felt as though we’d been blessed by the time she pointed us to a spot in the center before gliding away to meet others.

We flipped out the blue rolls like pro’s, lay down and gazed skyward. We listened to the dulcet tones of our leader as she began a guided relaxation to ease us all into the right state of mind.

And it worked.

I was utterly at one with the universe when I came to and opened my eyes, and had a casual stretch. I was oblivious to all as I wandered back over the lovely dream I’d just had. I had another stretch. I glanced over and sniggered at my snoring housemate. I stretched again, this time, with my eyes focusing, and rolled over … and this was when I:

  1. Remembered where the hell I was
  2. Noticed that the rest of the class was in, what was obviously the middle of a sequence and
  3. Looked at my watch and discovered thirty minutes had vanished.

 

I whispered to H out the corner of my mouth in the hope that no one would hear me. No one did hear me, including H. I whispered louder (shouted!). Spluttering, she rejoined me in the land of the living. With overly exaggerated nonchalance, we climbed to our feet, wiped the bogies from our eyes and dribble off our chins and proceeded to swing into The Mountain Position. Breathing in this new air of wonder. Firm in our heady belief that life would never be the same again; that our stresses would be a thing of the past. Yoga was to be our new path and our bodies, our temples. There was joy in my heart as I swooped over into The Triangle. So engulfed in my new angelic hedonism, I was unsure if the fart I’d heard, let out by Head-Band-Man (in front of me who was also triangling inches from my face), was actually a fart. I looked around. As had happened with me and H earlier, no-one reacted.

I returned to my zen zone.

Commanded by Gaia as she swished her tie-dye skirt at the front of the room, we all got into The Downward Dog. This time, there was no mistaking what some in that collective may have referred to as a ‘spiritual release’ as he directed his bottom towards the stars. And from then on, with each and every move, the same thing happened.

No one had warned us that that could be a side effect of this great exercise as it works the inside of the body as well as the out.

I swear to god I still have the scars on the inside of my mouth. I almost bit through in a bid to control my laughter and I was doing well(ish) until I swivelled towards H and found her, bent double, upside down, with silent tears of laughter dripping off her cheeks onto the floor, unable to lift herself up into the next position for fear of what would happen.

We made a mutual decision right there and then; that Yoga wasn’t for us and made an apologetic exit. Apparently, they could still hear us laughing from beyond the car park.

Needless to say, we weren’t asked back. And we didn’t ask if we could. The blue mats stayed in the cupboard until we had the next party and ran out of seating in the garden. So not a complete waste.

 

I recently decided to have another crack at the whip. It was a twenty-minute session that mostly consisted of The Warrior … which is ‘standing’. Essentially.

I was knackered.

 

Sometimes you just have to know when to quit.