That title might scare you off, but stick with me for a minute. When we think of yoga, some of us might picture one-leg-standing hippies or flexible middle aged mums - no judgement, we salute you! However, if you don’t fit into this category, you can still reap the benefits of yoga practice! And trust us, there are plenty to go around. So read on to find out all the good things yoga can bring us, and how we can get started.
Yoga originated in Northern India around 5,000 years ago! So as you can imagine, it’s a very traditional practice. It was used to promote both the physical and spiritual wellbeing of individuals. Its original context was to train the body and mind to self observe and become aware of their own nature. The purposes of yoga were to cultivate discernment, awareness, self-regulation and higher consciousness in the individual.
And that still stands! Many people take part in yoga as a spiritual or meditative practice, and it can have wonderful benefits on the mind.
Here’s some of them:
Creates mental clarity and calmness
Increases body awareness
Relieves chronic stress patterns
Relaxes the mind
Additionally, yoga is a great physical activity too.
Regular yoga practice can:
Increase muscle strength
Improve respiration, energy and vitality
Maintain a balanced metabolism
Improve cardio and circulatory health
Improve athletic performance
Protect from injury
Now I’m sure that all sounds pretty good, but if we’re not a pro yogi, where do we start?! It can feel overwhelming starting something new, so remember that we don’t have to be the best at something to enjoy it and all the benefits too (more on that here!). Try to focus on how the movement makes you feel, not how good you are!
Luckily, yoga is a very inclusive practice and so, if you’re not able to tuck your toes behind your ears, there is always a modification or alternative route you can take. Yoga really is something that everyone can enjoy and make progress with, you don’t have to be the bees knees!
So, where do we start?
First things first, you will likely need a yoga mat. These are really helpful for your practice as it stops your hands and feet from slipping in any poses or stretches, and can offer some comfort. Yoga involves a lot of time on the floor in different positions so it’s good to have a bit of cushioning beneath you!
And if a yoga mat just isn’t on the cards for you, try your practice somewhere comfy like on a rug or carpeted floor.
Another handy prop to have is a yoga block. Blocks are extra useful when we need a bit of support throughout the practice. For example, if a certain stretch is feeling a bit too much or you need a bit more height to hold the stretch, a block can be a great way to prop yourself up.
Again, if this isn’t available to you, you could try using a firm cushion instead.
For the actual classes, there’s a few options available.
Check out local classes. This is a lovely way to support small local businesses, and also meet new people in the area! Not just that, it’s a great way to get out and involve yourself in a community of people with similar interests. You’ll most likely receive in depth classes too, there might even be a few to choose from so you can do whatever suits you best!
Take an online class. There are many online yoga communities too. Whether it’s an app or a class over Zoom, there’s lots of options available and this might be something you feel more comfortable with if you’re just starting out. And you can do it from home… in your pjs!
Head over to YouTube. YouTube really is a wonderful resource with so much content and information available. There are millions of yoga classes there, and they’re all free. So if you’re worried about the financial aspect of sustaining your new hobby - and with the cost of living crisis, we don’t blame you - this is a much more affordable option. And the fact that there are so many different videos and instructors available means you can really find one that you enjoy and suits your needs.
Like we’ve mentioned before, you don’t have to be the most flexible person in the world to do yoga, nor do you need to have any experience in it or anything similar. It is an accessible practice to all, with lots of modifications available. Start slow and don’t rush into it, listen to your body and try to be present, taking in all the benefits of your practice.
Namaste: Yoga is an accessible activity that everyone can enjoy, you don’t have to be a pro at anything! As long as you enjoy it and it feels right for you, that’s what matters. There’s so many types of yoga that it’s good to explore which is the best for you. Remember to listen to your body and focus on how the movement feels, this is a form of self-care after all!