Today I'm going to talk about yoga. From the amount of lululemon apparel I see around the streets it must be the most popular physical activity in Canada. When I was going to school at Western I lived in a building that had a hot yoga studio in the main floor. This was my first experience with yoga and I learned quite a few things about it. Namely: don't bring an empty water bottle that is too big to fit under the sink, bring a towel to put on top of your yoga mat, don't play a squash match after a 1.5 hour hot yoga session, and that yoga is a much tougher workout then it appears.
I think a lot of men may not be comfortable going to a yoga class because there are so many women and maybe they believe that it's just for women, they are not very flexible and lack confidence they can do it, and yoga doesn't have a score or a timer which may decreases its appeal for some. Just from being around squash clubs for abut 25 years I have observed a lot of poor flexibility, I see very few people stretch and they just deal with it. This has a lot to do with their injuries and lack of retrieving ability. If you want to stay healthy and move better yoga is a fantastic cross training activity for squash. Yoga also improves your core strength, your posture, your strength endurance, and teaches you to focus on your breathing. For people that do yoga on a regular basis they will likely tell you that it is also a relaxing and cleansing workout. It is a no (to very low) impact activity and is easy on your joints (with proper technique!). So yoga is good for people of all ages, shapes, and sizes.
Maybe I've almost convinced you to try yoga, but you don't feel competent enough to go to a class filled with people that all know the names of the poses. But there are other options. You can buy a dvd and follow along at home or watch a youtube video. Just be careful as some of the advanced poses are quite challenging and like any exercise technique is crucial. So be sure you try some beginner poses and don't overdo it. The technique is something you will eventually need to get some feedback on from an instructor. There are plenty of beginner yoga classes in all cities. Ask someone that works at a studio which class is less busy and the instructor will be able to give you more individual attention during the class. And the good thing about yoga is that the poses can all be adapted, so if you can't do something yet you can stay in a neutral pose of even just lie down on your mat and breathe.
In a yoga class the other participants are focused on their own poses and will be challenged, so I guarantee that they will not be paying attention to you and your wobbly legs. So if you are nervous about starting you shouldn't be. You can watch a demonstration of some of the more common poses and what they are called online before you go. I didn't do this and I had no problem. I did a couple of sessions at home last week and I noticed how much my flexibility has decreased over the past year. So yoga is even more important as we get older. My hamstrings were very tight and a little sore (but in a good way) the next day. Every squash player should have a yoga mat even if they don't do yoga. You can do a lot of core and other strength exercises plus stretching on the mat.
I saw on twitter the other day that Nick Matthew was going to his first ever hot yoga session. Wonder how he did.. For any level of player it's never too late to start yoga and it will always be a good work out. You don't need to do hot yoga, unless you really want a good sweat! If you do try a hot yoga class bring at least a 1L bottle of water for a 1 hour class. I had a neighbour here in Victoria that taught a paddle board yoga class, so there is something for everyone out there.
I'm not a yoga expert by any means, but I will continue doing it once or twice a week as I attempt trying to improve my flexibility and strength. Yoga is something that I recommend for everyone, especially for the kids I work with. Even just 1 x 1 hour session per week will be helpful. If I find some good yoga video classes online I'll post for you to check out. Or if you have a favourite please send them to me.