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Stay the course – Issue 55

Note to self: keep doing yoga. By Jonathan Schofield

Although still grimacing, sweating and panting through the majority of my weekly yoga classes (looking around and wondering when I’ll look serene and composed like most of my fellow yogis) I have recently begun to realise that changes have occurred: my body has improved, physical horizons once again are broadening.

With a lower back that would scream with pain when I got out of bed every morning, before gradually getting worse throughout the day, I’d given up on some of my favourite pursuits – mainly running and kayaking. But, this summer, thanks to what is now a couple of years of yoga (some painkillers and a few injections too along the way) the pain has eased enough to dust off my kayak and trainers and get out there again.

Last month, following a momentous rainstorm, I launched my kayak into the swirling waters of the River Wye. For three days I bumped and bobbed through the most extraordinary scenery as lightning flashed above and the rain lashed down. Glorious. And nothing more than a dull, manageable ache in my back.

On the first night, soaked and still pain free at that stage, I put up my tent on a slither of land next to the river. Tired and wet, the thrill of being able to adventure again could not even be dampened when I rolled out my sleeping bag to discover it was my four-year-old son’s which barely covered my shins. Settling in for a cold night, a voice called out: “would you like a beer and some hot food?”

The voice belonged to Roessa, who, alongside her four robust children, had just canoed the same stretch of river. I joined her family in their tent and while devouring a bowl of delicious pasta listened as Roessa described some her recent adventures – including a run, bike and kayak race across Scotland.

Slim, lithe and optimistic, I knew before I asked…“Yes,” she said, “I’m a yoga teacher.” I left early the next morning as she saluted the sun and waved goodbye from the river bank. I paddled away, repeating the words, “Keep running, keep kayaking, keep doing yoga!”

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