Get Active: Hardcore holds stretch strength at Barking Boathouse

PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 August 2015

Benita's class is held in an exhibition room covered in artwork

Benita's class is held in an exhibition room covered in artwork


If there’s one thing I hate, it’s hippies.

I’ve no time for scented candles, chime-driven music and talk of feeling “centred”.

So I was less than enthused when I arrived at yoga to be told by coach Benita Glogowska that I’d spend my Saturday morning “opening up my heart” in a Vinyasa session focusing on chest-stretching.

But that was easy to accept compared with being told I was “massaging my internal organs” and “finding more space in my body” without realising.

I maintain both these feats are difficult due to a little thing called physics – but nowhere near as difficult as stopping myself from shaking while attempting to perform holds and stretches that Benita demonstrated while floating calm instructions my way.

And as I struggled to bend an extended leg diagonally across my core like a human accordian, it dawned on me how different this intense exercise was from its peaceful image.

True, you’ll probably feel calmer afterwards – but that’s likely to be because you’ve expounded all of your energy on cultivating core strength to a devastating degree.

Talking to a more experienced stretcher after the class, I was told I’d actually done quite well for my first time.

When I told him I was aching and planned to grab a beer as quickly as possible to ease the pain, he looked dismayed.

“Beer?” he said. “That’s not very Zen.”

After a quick Google, I found out Zen is a Buddhist tradition that teaches the personal expression of Buddhist insight in everyday life for the benefit of others.

From what I can remember of the rest of my day, I’m pretty sure I didn’t pass on much of this sort of insight so maybe my bendy buddy had a point about that first pint.

But it definitely made me feel more “centred”.

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