Thorough being a subscriber to Vegan Life magazine I got sent a free one day ticket to the Om Yoga Show in Manchester last weekend. Om Yoga magazine is the sister magazine to Vegan Life and they hold big yoga shows in Manchester, London and Glasgow every year. Great! However, there was just one issue with this - myself and exercise are not natural bedfellows! After being diagnosed with three chronic health conditions in the last twelve months I was feeling a little overwhelmed recently and decided to seek some counselling. I am very lucky in that my employees do value staff well-being and we are all entitled to six free counselling sessions a year which take place outside of the workplace. So, I've been seeing a counsellor and one of the subjects that has come up is exercise. The conditions I have are chronic but not life threatening. They will not go away, I will always have to deal with them, but diet and exercise can play a big part in managing them. I've never exercised regularly though and have always had a thing that I hate exercise.
Digging through the layers of thought around this two things came up. Firstly there was school. When I was younger I actually loved sports, both playing and watching. However hard I tried though I just was never very good at physical stuff. PE was always my lowest grade on my school report. Instead of focusing on the fact that I enjoyed it I felt that I was rubbish at it and gradually stopped doing anything physical instead focusing on creative pursuits that I knew I was good at and which weren't competitive. The second issue around exercise for me is fear. When I was seven I had two bad accidents within a year in PE lessons at school. These involved breaking both wrists, breaking my right arm and dislocating my elbow. My arm was reset badly resulting in a deformity and lack of flexibilty in that arm that I have to this day. A couple of years ago I did start a little exercise routine at home using DVD's and I was really getting into it for the first time in my life but then one morning I got up and my foot really hurt and I turned out that the repetitive movement had caused my heel to fracture. I also found out recently from x-rays for osteoarthritis that I have fractured my pelvis in the past. I have low bone density and that rules out any sort of exercise that puts too much stress on my bones such as running.
So, as a result of these realisations I am trying to cultivate a new attitude towards exercise and find something that I can safely do! I must admit that on the way to the show I wasn't looking forward to it. My head was full of preconceptions of how yoga people would be! Thankfully the reality was not that everyone was like these amazing acro-yoga folk. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were people of all shapes and sizes and ages too. In fact I was really pleased to see plenty of women my age and older which helped me feel that yoga is definitely something that can help me with my health issues as I age.
I'd picked out a few of the less strenuous sounding free classes from the programme on the way there. Sadly although I arrived on time the Laughter Yoga class started early and I missed out on that but it looked like a lot of fun. I did a class with Dru Yoga who claim to help with back pain. I really enjoyed the class, I felt well stretched out without it being too difficult for me and my breathing was definitely calmer and easier afterwards. The other class I did was Face Yoga. This is a regime devised by a woman called Danielle Collins with moves with names like hamster cheeks and flirty eyes! The idea of face yoga is that it exercises your face muscles giving you a natural face lift effect. It is taught locally by Susan in Manchester and was really fun to do.
As well as the exercise and meditation I was really looking forward to checking out the vegan food and drink offerings. Sadly there wasn't a great deal in the way of food. I was expecting juice bars and the sort of wonderful raw food stalls you often get a vegan fairs selling interesting salad boxes but there wasn't anything like this. I know the weekend clashed with the big Vegfest event in Bristol so I don't know if that may have been the reason why. Herbal teas were well represented though and two of my favourites - Yogi and Pukka both had stands. I brought home a box of the latest Yogi flavour, Choco Mint, which is wonderful, like liquid After Eights!
This Active 35 oil is made from a blend of different herbs and is said to relax muscles and support joints. I've been using it on my hips since the show which is where I get most pain and it's pretty good so I'm pleased I picked a bottle up.
I was also pleased to see two raw chocolate brands there that I really like. Pana Chocolate is an Australian brand which is starting to become more available in the UK and they have some really interesting flavours. I recently won a gift box in a competition and Matt who doesn't always like raw sweet stuff declared it the best raw chocolate he'd tasted. I brought two flavours home that we'd not tried before, the orange and the hemp and nib.
I also sampled some flavours in the Conscious Chocolate range that were new to me like rum and raisin and my favourite this Lions Raw bar which was flavoured with citrus fruits. Conscious have been around for a while and I think they've gone from strength to strength continually refining their packaging and product.
The show was a good experience for me and I was glad I'd taken the time out for myself to go to it. I left feeling that I definitely want to explore yoga further. I can't really afford to go to classes at the moment but I imagine there is a wealth of stuff online I could easily access. If there is anything that you would recommend for a beginner please leave a comment below. Thanks!