How to feel alive. Be a Sun Warrior.

Do you ever feel the need to come alive, as if you have been hibernating for too long and your body does not know anymore how it is to be… real? Do you find yourself realising you haven’t used most of your muscles, except your fingers for typing or clicking the mouse or texting, since like… since when, actually?
If you want to feel you are so alive it’s almost raw, in the sense of feeling fresh and overwhelming, even on a rainy Wednesday morning which looks like a true autumn day, dark and wet and impervious, I have something to recommend. It is called Body Balance and, unless you are super-fit, there is a big chance it will leave you feel just like me today: pain in your neck muscles, shoulder muscles, arms muscles, back muscles, bottom muscles, well let’s just name all of them, for starters? It kind of feels like I am soar head to toes. When I sat in my bed to start writing this, for example, I first tried to do it with my legs curled, but that was painful! Better stretch them in front, so now I can only feel my bottom as I sit on it. I haven’t learnt to hover yet, unfortunately.

Here is what a Body Balance class looks like:

Maybe some of you are familiar and actually quite good at it. I have been to my first one yesterday and I completely LOVED IT! Being on a membership at Littledown Centre, which gives me unlimited access to all classes available, as long as I book one week in advance (all for £32, with access to the gym and swimming pool included), I have booked to do another one on Sunday already. Well, I guess until then my muscles will lose some of the pain.
This Body Balance thing was exactly what I was looking for. After two years of going to the gym quite regularly (and in the last 2-3 months I have been good, 2 or 3 times a week), I was getting bored of the same stretches, the same weight pulling and cycling for 15-20 minutes. I enjoyed it, but it felt like it wasn’t quite enough and I had to continuously push myself to do it, as motivation would start to fade. And this despite me being very aware I need this, after years and years of a sedentary life, from the asthma childhood with the motto “stop running, you’ll get an attack again!”, to my office years when the regular route would be desk, subway, chair (in the theatre, cinema, café), then desk again at home, and some weekend walks.

The truth is that we have bodies we do not much use any longer. Most of modern day jobs involve a series of repetitive actions, most of activities people get involved in are sedentary. In the field I work in this is not as much the case, but still there can be times of inactivity and waiting for the person you support to want to do something.
So I wonder how many people today do feel alive, do feel they are in their bodies here and now and not only inside an ever flickering mind, in our thoughts bouncing inside our heads like a crazy game which never stops. I know that people who go to the gym or do some sort of a regular exercise tend to be aware of how it takes them away from the ever in motion stream of thoughts and, as such, release tensions not only in body, but in mind as well.

Any kind of exercise taken seriously would do. But then why not trying to find the one which truly suits you?
I found mine, and writing this is not a paid advert for the Littledown Centre, hahaha! The stretches and movements we have done at the start of the session, coming from Tai Chi, completely work for me as they challenge if I push myself, but at the same time they are elegant and I can feel the openness they involve. For example there is the position/stretch called Sun Warrior (love the name as well!) which gives your body the elegance of a bird flying towards the sky, it opens your trunk while pointing upwards, and really stretches your legs. It just felt right to me.

During the last couple of years I have become more and more focused on finding a broader sense of purpose, as well as a better rhythm and involvement. I am still working in many areas, but hey, that is what life is for, isn’t it?
First, I started to go now and then to swim, took regular walks, then the gym. Second, I became fascinated with the Ketogenic diet, and the way it was developed could not leave you indifferent if curious about science. But then I understood a high fat and very, very low carb lifestyle is a bit too extreme for me. At the moment I am doing a low carb diet, excluding bread, potatoes, rice and cereal products from my every day meals, allowing some bakery once or twice a week. Also, I have discovered a Stevia sweetener, after reading reviews, which tastes great and reduces my intake of sugar: Natvia.
Funny enough (or not) it all started with an article in my favourite magazine ever, National Geographic, talking about sugar consumption and the BIG problem in the US with sugar-related obesity and the health problems caused by it. At the moment, they are doing an 8 issues series on world food, which covers challenges to possible solutions, and is incredibly good!
All of these might be a sign that I am getting older. Or wiser?
Don’t know for sure, but it might also have to do with the fact I grew up being regularly ill, three pneumonias on the record and an unaccountable number of times I almost died of an asthma attack, then the only big operation in my life taking place after I almost got into peritonitis (general infection of the internal organs caused by the spread from the appendix to the peritoneum inner membrane), which actually started, but I got into surgery soon enough for a simple draining tube to do the trick in a day or two. Well, this is only for giving you part of the picture, I guess, of what makes me think that giving my body the necessary respect is vital. It does so many things for me, it overcame so much hardship, shouldn’t I be able to do it some good and take care of it properly?

In the end, I want to thank Laura from Littledown, the trainer who led the Body Balance class yesterday evening, and is actually a substitute tutor/trainer at the moment (she explained this is how they start, until getting a class of their own). She has been great and I have deeply enjoyed it all! I hope she gets her own regular class soon.

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