Monday, 29 February 2016

My Journey Through Yoga

On the first of February, my birthday, I joined a yoga class as a kind of new year (of age) resolution.
Week One: I'm quite impressed by the yoga studio. It has hardwood floors and permanently dimmed spotlights, incense hangs lightly in the air and there's soft relaxing music playing. There are different types of yoga classes and my friend tells me we're in the most intense and energetic one. She's definitely telling the truth - after the first class I head straight to town to buy a sports bra.
Everything generally goes well this week. I can get into most poses without extreme difficulty. However, I've discovered that my balance is as poor as I always thought it was and I have a sneaking suspicion I either have short arms or long legs. Towards the end of the week I have a dull ache all over my body, so I must be doing some good. Additionally, I'm permanently hungry. Am probably the only person to put on weight since beginning yoga.
Week Two: I've been so convinced that a limb irregularity is the cause of my inability to touch my feet that I've measured myself against my flatmate. Turns out I'm an averagely sized, inflexible woman. My yoga teacher has definitely noticed this.
Everyone else in the class had a really good body. I'm still running on above average levels of hunger so any benefit my stretching is doing is being massively outweighed by my potato consumption.
Week Three: The constant muscle ache I'd been experiencing over the last two weeks has gone, but my yoga abilities are still underwhelming. I'm seriously considering asking my yoga teacher to look at my measurements because I'm convinced something is off.
I'm starting to get the yoga terminology (I haven't attempted it so far lest I be laughed out of the studio). My favourite class is yang-yin yoga because it has a lot of poses where number one consideration is your own comfort.
Week Four: By now I thought I'd be able to see some physical benefit but after 3 classes a weeks for 4 weeks I've not seen any real change. I know these things don't happen overnight, but 4 weeks seems like a long time with no improvement. I'm a bit jaded about this, and it doesn't help that during one of the moves I pulled a muscle in my arm. It's literally the most painful thing to have ever happened to me during exercise and I legit thought I was going to cry.
Verdict: Taking a holistic view, yoga has been a good experience. It hasn't delivered any great physical benefits but taking that time to focus on myself made me feel calmer and more balanced. However, I don't think I'll be able to continue with classes as they are quite expensive and time consuming. In the future I may take up the practice again.
If you're wondering whether to give yoga a go I would definitely tell you to try it. There are a lot of different types of yoga. Some classes are more active, some focus on restorative moves and some are about balancing the self. It'd be easy to find something to suit your needs.The bottom line is that the practice is very personal and, as pants as this sounds coming from a review, the best thing to do is to try it for yourself.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Why Short-Term Loans Need Tighter Advertising Controls

Around this time last year tighter restrictions came in on payday loans which meant that companies had to take more responsibility about who they lent to. They also had to take action to prevent these loans from snowballing out of control and the legislation placed a cap on how much interest could be charged. It was a welcome change because, at the time, things were getting out of hand.
However, more needs to be done about the way these companies advertise. Like many others, I use social media and I'm being inundated by targeted advertisements which encourage me to take out money. Some feign being helpful and understanding, wanting me to know that their loans are tailored for students to help when times get tough. Others encourage me to be reckless with money and to treat myself to things I can't afford.
This is a real problem because these adverts target the vulnerable during what is still a highly tentative financial time. We're barely out of the recession, and according to most financial advisors it's nipping at our heels hard, but at the same time the media is inundating us with images of wealth and glory. Load up any Instagram account and you're guaranteed to find girls posing with designer handbags and million dollar smiles (they're veneers, folks).
Surrounded by all this wealth and pressure of course it's difficult to open your own wardrobe and see Primark's finest. So what we don't need is a little devil on our shoulder encouraging us to spend now and worry later. The harsh fact of life is that if you're on a low wage you can't afford those things, and if you ignore this and take money out you'll either get yourself into financial hot water or you'll spend the rest of the year spending obscene amounts on interest payments.
Payday loans should be advertised responsibility. In and of themselves they're no more evil than having a credit card, but they should mark themselves out as being an emergency option. If a large appliance breaks, for instance, or if the car suddenly needs a repair. In these infrequent situations a payday loan can be a lifesaver and a valuable service. But the payday loan lifestyle, frequent borrowing for unnecessary purchases, is something to be discouraged.
Of course, there's no where near as much money in the sensible approach so don't be expecting to see it any time soon.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

If You Photograph Your Avocados You Should Be Banned From Buying Them

Let me begin by saying that I am a health enthusiast. I have a Holland and Barrett's loyalty card, I am a recognised figure at my local health food shop, I haven't been to the doctor for anything less than immense lasting agony in years. So when I tell you I love avocados, alternative medicine and almond butter it comes from real emotion, not Instagram-hype.
Here is the problem, good people like myself are getting eyerolls from the public whenever we discuss our love of a perfectly ripe avocado. It's a simple delight that has been destroyed by over-exposure to social media. Suddenly, our passion has been lumped in with jackasses who have seen this fruit (!) trending on social media and have decided that they suddenly love it too, so much so that they must pose next to it in a sports bra with the hashtag 'FollowingTheCrowd', or, even more popular, 'LookAtMyBreasts'.
The worst of the offenders are the ones who serve up their avocados on toast BECAUSE THAT'S THE WORST WAY TO SERVE THEM! It's so bland and horrible, but because it makes for a pretty picture these idiots suffer their way through a horrible breakfast. Hella likes, 'yo.
Why should I care? I don't use Instagram (no one wants to see my boring life, even I would rather ignore it) so the idiocy that is an endless stream of peanut butter on everything doesn't affect me, however it affects the people around me. Suddenly, people class me as an avocado-on-toast moron, and that just isn't cricket.
So, please, I beg of you. Think of a new trend. Health food has already been claimed by myself and many other lovely people. We have already suffered through years of people peeking into our lunchboxes with ill-disguised disgust. We have already spent a small fortune on daily vitamins and natural supplements. We have already held our noses whilst downing some vile, green mixture that promises to do our cells a major favour (here's looking at you, wheatgrass). After suffering through all of this we do not need to be subjected to public ridicule that stems from your arrogant navel-gazing.
Avocado lover out *drops mic*

Me too, avocado, me too.