When I was in teacher’s college in Toronto, I got hooked on beach volleyball. I had initally joined because my boyfriend, at the time, started a team. Surprisingly, I improved immensely, from having no skills whatever, over four summers.
I don’t participate now because it’s frustrating dealing with 1) court hogs who won’t set to me at the net. This ties in with 2) teams who won’t enforce the three-hit rule. In the four years that I played competitively at Ashbridge’s Bay, I could see a trend: the strongest, most successful and consistent teams always make three hits.
All. The. Time.
Teams with individuals who constantly try to control the ball on their own will look good at first, but will often lose momentum in the long run.* The court hog’s short-term goals of getting a single point means that he/she won’t give their teammates the chance to develop skills as an individual or as a team. I’m not claiming to be an ace or anything, but whether you’re playing professional or just for fun, it’s a sport that requires coordination within a group of people. I would rather opt out than reform bad habits and regress as a player. I’ve taken paid workshops before and to undo what I’ve learned isn’t worth my time. It’s unfortunate that I likely won’t play as long as I live in Waskaganish, but if the conditions or the players change, I would participate again.
Having said that, I’ve also spent money on rockclimbing. I have the basic gear – a chalk ball, a chalk bag, a harness, climbing shoes and a 10-visit gym pass (with half a dozen still-valid visits). Unfortunately, There are no walls or indoor climbing gyms up north. The closest outdoor spot is Wemindiji, another 400 km north of Waskaganish. Even setting one up at miniature one at home would be difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have one, but don’t think I can afford it yet.
That leaves me with my current sport, yoga. Laugh if you will – and I honestly don’t care whether the term ‘sport’ is applied to it or not – but you need a strong awareness of your body to do yoga. While it might not be apparent, there are lots of poses that often leave me panting and sweating. You’d be surprised at how much core and back strength is required for a position that looks simple. Attempting some of these asanas can feel like a slap in the face, a stark reminder of all the bodily limitations you have, whether it’s poor lower back flexibility, tight hamstrings or stiff hip flexors. Sometimes when you’re attempting a pose, all you can think is, you don’t have the strength / flexibility / endurance for this.
Which brings me to the question, if I have abandoned volleyball and rockclimbing, what makes me think that I’ll stick to yoga?
Because of the mind-body awareness. It is challenging, it is hard and it is humbling. And it can be done by anyone, because no other physical activity gives so many considerations by offering variations based on an individual’s injuries or needs. And it can be done anywhere. It only takes a minute to do a handstand in a field, or on a sidewalk, in a living room, or a hotel room. It doesn’t require much equipment and you don’t need a partner (unless you’re into acroyoga). The skills that you gain can also be transferred to any other sport.
While other sports will come and go, depending on accessibility, costs, equipment, or injuries, I aim to be practicing yoga even into my 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s or however long I live. The money I’ve spent on equipment and DVDs are an investment in a life-long health plan that pays me back in more ways than one.
I have been making a lot of purchases and thought that I should make a list to estimate my total expenses so far:
- FitBit One ($100)
- FitBit Aria Scale ($130)
- Kerri Verna’s Core Power Yoga on Cody App ($30 USD)
- Reversible Lolë yoga mat ($35)
- Introduction to Yoga DVD, including a strap and two foam blocks ($30)
- Rodney Yee’s Intermediate Yoga DVD ($20)
- Oakley workout top ($18)
- Reebok workout top ($50)
- Running shoes ($80)
- Gym membership for one year ($100)
- Headbands ($1)
- Manduka yoga mat spray ($12)
- Yoga Journal subscription ($22)
Which comes to a grand total of $634. Yep, it’s a lot of money, but two months ago, I didn’t feel as strong as I did now and I don’t regret any of it. And it’s not as if I have to repurchase any of these in the next ten years (except maybe running shoes and the magazines). I have been using pretty much everything, except for the DVDs (I’ve only watched them two or three times, so let that be a lesson to me).
I’d still like to get a few more things, so on the wish list are:
- All-grip foam blocks ($15 x 2)
- Full-length yoga leggings ($80 x 2)**
- Yoga gloves for handstands ($12)
- Patrick Beach’s Learn the Freestanding Handstand on Cody App ($15 USD)
After these purchases, I am going to refrain from other purchases.
*Worse even, are the players who only set to men.
**I thought I could get away with using my thermals. Boy, I was wrong. Instead, I’ve been ripping my MEC long johns. I need leggings that can withhold stretching!