~ contributed by Urban Yogi Dan Jacka ~
“Are you any good?” is a common question when people find out that you’re a skateboarder. “Good enough to have fun!” is my standard honest-yet-noncommittal answer. After having children though, I wondered if maybe I wasn’t good enough anymore. I’d go out skating in the evenings after baby was in bed, and found that – despite feeling energetic in my mind – my body was too slow and too tired. I’d try to do tricks that I knew I could do, but in the moment I’d kick the board away feeling that my body wouldn’t be able to react quickly enough if I ran into trouble. It was horrible. Perhaps it was time to heed the naysayers at last and ‘grow up’.
Well, growing up is for sticks-in-the-mud. I needed a better plan. I realised that doing tricks on a skateboard is a very ‘explosive’ activity for the body (from rested to extended to compressed in a split second). Perhaps I needed a complementary activity that was non-explosive; something that would nourish and replenish my aching body. I decided to try yoga again.
I’d done yoga before but had been put off by impersonal studios and inattentive instructors. Right away it was obvious that Urban Yoga was different: the small space felt loved; students laughed together and knew one another by name; I did not feel like my money and I were being strategically parted. The first session left me exhausted, but I came back. Then I came back again. Soon I came to love that no two sessions are the same, that the studio atmosphere is always friendly and that there’s a real sense of community and support between teachers and students.
I did some beginners’ courses to start off, enjoying the slow pace and Sarah’s detailed instructions. When I felt confident I started the 45 minute lunchtime classes, twice a week – a pattern that I’ve kept for over two years now. In the early days I was very stiff in the neck and shoulders, but during class I could feel the tension pour from my fingers – literally a tingling, pouring sensation from the ends of my fingers during a forward fold! That pain relief was addictive; I had no trouble getting motivated to come back again.
Over the ensuing months I started to feel the benefits in my skating. I became comfortable to fall again, knowing that my body was strong enough not to get hurt; my legs became more responsive and able to compress faster and deeper; my shoulders stopped hurting at the end of a long skate session.
Nowadays the yoga is as habitual as the skating. I want them both – yin and yang. I wish I could tell my 20 year-old self to start practicing yoga, because that guy’s body was nowhere near as flexible then as it is now. My children are now at school. The eldest will turn seven in April and she’s already told me what she’d like for her birthday: a skateboard.