Fit in my 40s: I’m doing yoga at home. It’s free, but can I ignore the carpet stains? – The Guardian

Just as you never forget how to ride a bike, so you never forget how to do a downward dog; but what goes clean out of your head, after even a brief period of absence, is why you would ever want to. Even a week off yoga more or less guarantees a massive effort to rejoin the flow. So two things would help: if you could do it at home, so that it ate only half an hour out of your day, rather than two. And if it didn’t cost anything.

Which is what brought me back to the internet: Adriene is the most famous practitioner here and also the freest, both in the sense that the tutorials don’t cost anything, and that they are incredibly easy to find and navigate. They are a bite-sized length (24 minutes) and are arranged in blocks of 30; each series starts easy and builds up. I’ve tried Adriene before, and couldn’t stick to her. That was before I realised the point of yoga by doing the 90-minute, hot-studio variety. A large part of the value is in being bored: “feel the boredom and do it anyway” was my mantra for a while. That enforced concentration on activities that are fundamentally unengaging – holding a warrior two, then doing something pretty similar and calling it warrior three – is mysteriously good for the mood (I’m avoiding the word “soul”, for no good reason).

So, I came back to Adriene’s videos with a renewed self-discipline and found them far easier to stick to, getting a bargain-hunter’s thrill from not spending 20 quid on a class, and allowing her sun-kissed American tone to wash over me, without feeling as if I was exercising to an Instagram advert. She’s very good, very clear, quite fast-paced. There is enough plank action, even at the start, that you can certainly feel the benefit afterwards. Yes, you are still in your living room, easily distracted by the postman or stains on your carpet, but if you can’t let go of domesticity for the length of a single episode of The Big Bang Theory, arguably the answer to that is to do even more yoga.

Frankly, Adriene is such a pro that the only comparable alternatives I found were subscription sites, but they’re not insanely expensive. Ashleigh Sergeant is extremely fun to watch – ambitious, show-offy yoga that makes you want a body more like a sports car. A lot of the moves I couldn’t really emulate, however, so this was more entertainment experience than exercise, and frankly, it wasn’t that entertaining. Cat Meffan is as well organised and accessible as Adriene, and has a reassuring studio that looks and sounds as if she could be recording next door to you, which is good if you are prone to feelings of wannabe Californian fraudulence.

The only pitfall is obvious; there’s nobody around to tell you if you’re doing it wrong. So you really have to concentrate, which can make it feel as exhausting as a class three times as long.

What I learned

If you can do it in front of a mirror – I couldn’t, unless I practised in the bath – that would be so much better than waiting until it’s dark and trying to check your shapes in a window.

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