It seems yoga has become 'the thing' to add to the health and wellbeing list in 2015. Google 'yoga classes' in your local area and you'll come up with pages of choices. If you're new to this activity, are you confused and overwhelmed by all the options? Ask friends or colleagues who've already 'seen the light', and their answers will probably confuse you even more! Honestly, you may ask, what's all the fuss about? If you think yoga is all about sitting cross legged on a cushion, incense burning in the background, with a bunch of people chanting, think again. If that's what you want however, you can certainly find it in any number of classes, yoga styles, and plenty of retreats. If you think you need to be fit, a hippy, under 50, over 50, flexible, or an elite athlete to practice yoga, forget it. And this is what all the fuss is about.
Yoga as a practice was born around 5,000 years ago. Generations of people have practiced forms of yoga for many different reasons. And here's what SHE loves most about this complete mind, body, spirit concept: it's all things to all people. Take it up at any age, with any fitness level, and be amazed at how quickly your body responds to being coaxed into positions you never dreamed possible. If stress plays a part in your life (welcome to the human race), here's your release and relief. It's a non-competitive environment, and given the amount of time we spend each day competing for all manner of things, it's wonderful to leave all that behind at the studio door.
But which style, is right for you? Do you need to speak sanskrit to understand what position you're supposed to be in? And how come everyone else looks like they know exactly what they're doing?
So here's a quick (and very simplistic) overview of yoga styles for those considering getting involved. If you:
- want to chill: hatha
- want to sweat: vinyasa, power flow, bikram (really sweaty and not for the faint hearted)
- like structure: ashtanga
- like props: iyengar
If you need convincing, here are just a few benefits of yoga:
- Helps to relieve stress, increase blood circulation, and lower the risk of heart disease
- Tones the body, assists in building strength, flexibility, and increases cardiovascular fitness
- Works every muscle of the body equally; there is a counter pose for each posture to ensure you create balance in your body
- No expensive equipment required (unless you like fancy pants and label gym gear) a pair of leggings and a T-shirt is really all you need. Most studios supply mats if you don't want to buy your own.
Oh...and this one: 1 hour of yoga (depending on the style) will burn 200 - 630 calories. Yep, SHE thinks that's the bonus offer right there!
So you want to get started? Here are the tips:
- Sign up for a beginners or 'back to basics' workshop. It's by far the best way to introduce yourself to the practice. Start here and you can decide if the style is what you're looking for, or maybe explore some other options. There's a lot to choose from!
- Download an app (SHE loves Yoga Studio) or get yourself a DVD. If you really can't face walking into a class and you have that 'first day at school' feeling, you can practice in the comfort and privacy of your own home.
All that said, taking a class or workshop will give you a much better all round experience. A good yoga teacher will guide you through the poses, taking time to adjust you where/if possible, to ensure you're in the right position, and using correct technique. As with many physical activities, there's a much lower risk of any injury if you're being guided by a professional.
Give it a shot, for whatever your reasons are. You may just be surprised and amazed at what you're able to achieve. And the person you might become.
And remember...it's only practice!