Sandpit Secrets

Posted on August 18, 2011


Don’t you love it when you stumble across something new, fabulous … and previously unknown?  Of course, this happens wherever you live, whatever you do … but here in Dubai and in Tori-world, they’re referred to as Sandpit Secrets.

And last night … I’m happy to have stumbled across a true Sandpit Secret.  It all began on Monday.  In a corner unit on the Palm Jumeirah, I was putting on an outfit in preparation for a photo shoot for Emirates Woman.

And in the room with me was Simone Green who had just finished a shoot.  A little conversation later and we established that Simone is a great free driver and is currently diving head first into the world of triathlons. She then invited me to a weekly yoga session she holds for fellow divers and triathletes, her ‘FreeTriYogis’. (How foolish am I to have thought I had tried every yoga class here for my extensive magazine reviews!)

So along I went to a lush green patch in the Springs where another ten or so yogis were scattered beneath the palm trees and surrounded by some cool tunes to offset the hot air, where the smell of sweet incense partnered perfectly with quaint tea lights.

And for the next 90 minutes, Simone took us through a fabulous class of strengthening and stretching, toning and tightening. The humidity was high … we were all drenched in sweat by the end despite being a highly trained and finely tuned bunch.  What really got me was being surrounded by other athletes … other brilliant sports men and woman who I knew were with me when I grimaced with pain on hearing the words ‘open your hips’.

I have written on more than once occasion about the benefits of yoga … physically, mentally and spiritually.  I am after all, such a massive believer in the power of the mind : body connection. I did ask Simone though, post class, what her thoughts were and she made an interesting point.

She referred to a certain Ben Walton, an old friend of mine and fellow yogi.  Now Ben is the fastest white guy in the UAE … the Middle East I expect. He is a phenomenal athlete whose potential seems to know no bounds.  Yet here is a man who has about as much flexibility as a steel rod and spent the entire class making such a verbal racket, he could have been in labour (sorry Ben!)

So my point is this … you do not need to be a master of yoga to be a master on the track.  Not having accomplished the triangle pose has clearly had no bearing on Ben’s ability to run at lightening speed.

But practising yoga now is adding new strings to his bow, indeed in all of us there … teaching us to know and understand our bodies, enabling us to prevent the onslaught of inevitable injuries and showing us that sometimes, even when bodies hurt, minds are tired and limbs are shaking … that just focusing on the breath, focusing on the present, can help us get past the pain.  And this is without doubt something every sportsman needs to master.

 So thank you Simone.  Thank you for being a fabulous Sandpit Secret.  There is no where I would rather have been last night.

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