Yoga is the most well rounded and adaptive form of exercise there is. If you ever wondered why people who do Yoga are so evangelical about it, the simple answer is because it’s amazing! Whatever stage of life you are at, whatever state of mind you are in, whatever type of body you have and whatever level of fitness you are at, Yoga is the answer. The trick to “getting” Yoga is to get in to Yoga with an open mind. Allow yourself to experience Yoga without the stereotypes:-
- Yoga is only for _______________ < hippies, yummy mummys, women, instagram, vegans, > ***( there is nothing wrong with any of these identifications by the way, I personally fall in to most of them 😉 )!
- Yoga is only about breathing and stretching, it’s too slow!
- Yoga is sitting in Lotus pose and chanting Om, not my idea of exercise!
- I’m not flexible enough to do Yoga!
I could go on and on and on! But this is really important. As a teacher I see many different “types” of people walk in to my class. The issue here is classifying yourself as someone who “doesn’t do Yoga”. This belief is holding you back from something that could genuinely make you a more balanced, calm, strong and happy human, and who doesn’t want that?!
So how can you shed your preconceptions and take on your first Yoga class or go to your next class and get more out of it?
- Know that Yoga is for EVERYONE! Young, old, man, woman, any ethnic or religious or totally secular background, “tough” people, if you are a little (or a lot) over your ideal weight, not flexible, a calm person, an anxious person, runner, cyclist, swimmer, rugby player, GAA player, soccer player, tennis play, etc., etc., etc., E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E.!!!!
- It doesn’t matter at all if you can’t touch your toes! The beauty of Yoga is it actually builds flexibility. Most of us are not naturally flexible. You have to train your muscles to be flexible. The more Yoga you do, the more flexible you will become.
- Yoga is too slow and gentle to be real exercise. Ask anyone that comes to my classes if they feel like they have done exercise after, I am pretty sure they will say “hell ya!”. Not all Yoga classes are like this, but you will always be able to find a class that suits how you are feeling on any given day. That is part of the beauty of Yoga if you have tonnes of energy and you want to burn through it, do a strong Vinyasa class, if you want to stretch it out and you’re feeling a bit sluggish, do a gentle Hatha class! All of the postures and philosophies (listen to your body, etc.) are the same. When you have experienced one style you will have a good base to take on a different style.
- You have an injury. Tell your Yoga teacher and she or he will be able to offer you safe modifications or variations for poses that might not suit you at this time. An added bonus is that Yoga is amazing for healing injuries and preventing future injuries. One of the main selling points of the physical practice is that you use and strengthen the small muscles that support the big muscles. This in turn creates a beautiful synergy and balance in the body when you do your day to day activities or take on other sports. Synergy and balance in the body = less injuries!
- If you reaallllyyy don’t like the breathing/relaxation bit, you need it more than anyone 😉 FACT! Those of us that don’t like to slow down, are really busy in our heads, always have too much on to even think of lying down, especially during exercise! These are the people that need Yoga the most. You have no idea of the power of mindfulness, deep, conscious breathing and meditating until you have done it. Like anything, practice makes perfect. You need to work at it at the start, training your mind to be still can be harder than working your way into a headstand, but the benefits are absolutely mind blowing (in a really calm and gentle way;-) ).
Ask yourself the following questions and if you answer YES! to at least one (and I challenge you that you won’t be able to answer NO! to even one), then do yourself a favour and give Yoga a chance, the worst that could happen is you’ll love it ;-).
- Do I want to feel physically and mentally stronger?
- Do I want to be able to relax easier and deal with stress better?
- Do I want to have clearer thoughts and be more effective and productive in all aspects of my life?
- Do I want to look and feel better?
- Do I want to have an activity in my life that is just for me? Something that makes me check in with how I’m feeling and with this awareness allows me to be a better mom/dad/partner/son/daughter/friend/human!
- Do I want to be a bit braver with my life and try new things?
My Yoga journey has been diverse. It has served me in so many different ways at various stages in my life. But I can safely say that along side becoming a wife and then a mother, it has had the most positively profound effect on my life. Everyday, on my mat, I discover something new about myself that helps me to reflect and grow and aspire to be a better human…and I can touch my toes 😉
Namasté + Big Love, Alex