Why should you practice yoga?
Yoga is for everyone! No matter what your flexibility level or where you are on your wellness journey, yoga has something to offer. That's why I want to share some tips with you today on how to start a practice and overcome barriers that might be standing in the way of getting on the mat.
What is yoga and what are the benefits of practising it?
"Yoga is a practice different from all other disciplines. Yoga is not just about flexibility or flexibility, it's an entire way of being." says Stewart McFarlane, co-founder of Yogatomy. "Yoga is the union of body, mind and spirit." The word "yoga" has no exact meaning in English - it has been translated as "union" or "joining together". Yoga is a journey of self-discovery, moving towards wellness and peace.
Yoga has many benefits for your overall wellbeing. Here are some to consider: flexibility, strength & endurance, increased circulation, improved respiration rate as well as stress reduction and relaxation - the two that I consider most important.
Yoga can also improve your mood by releasing endorphins which make you feel good naturally through meditation or the physical exertion from yoga poses. It may be helpful in reducing anxiety too. All these reasons alone should help motivate you to get on that mat. Getting started doesn't have to be hard either if we remove those barriers standing between you and the mat.
Who is yoga for?
Yoga is for everyone no matter what age or shape you are right now, so there's never an excuse not to start! It doesn't have to be perfect either - just get on the mat whenever it feels possible for however long you can commit. Yoga will always be accessible as a practice because of this. All yoga studios provide mats too so there really isn't anything stopping us from practicing except ourselves.
Yoga and flexibility
When it comes to flexibility, know that everyone is different - we all have a unique flexibility level or "range of motion". Some people come into yoga with greater flexibility than others but this doesn't mean they will excel at everything from headstands to handstands. I am a qualified yoga teacher and I never, ever do headstands or handstands.
Yoga is about learning how your body moves and understanding your limits so don't think there's something wrong if you can't do a pose after only one class. Take time getting used to each pose as well as practicing safely without pushing yourself too far past what feels comfortable for now until you build strength in those muscles. This is where the use of yoga blocks and yoga stretch straps come in really handy too.
Someone telling me they are too inflexible to do yoga ranks amongst one of my least favourite things to hear!
Yoga and the breath
Remember to breathe! It's easy to forget when we get so wrapped up in the poses but yoga is also about the breath. Yoga teaches us how to be fully present in our body by breathing with every movement, inhaling calm energy and exhaling any tension that might build up during a pose. If you find your mind wandering during a pose, focus on ujjayi breathing - the deep yogic breath that helps us to breathe more slowly and fully which in turn promotes balance, concentration and peace. Ujjayi breathing is when you make a sound in your throat like Darth Vader - breathe this way for the duration of your practice and pay attention to how ujjayi affects your movement.
Yoga clothing & gear
Be comfortable! Yoga clothes can be tight or loose-fitting - but not baggy - you want free range of motion without anything too tight that might restrict or impede your practice. You don't need expensive yoga leggings, tights or tops - just something comfy with good stretch in it so you can move around easily during the poses.
Getting started with a personal practice
Start small by committing to a little bit every day. If you only have time for five minutes before bed, that's fine! Maybe once or twice a week try going to a class and see how it feels in the group setting - all yoga studios are different so take what works for you from each one and build your practice around that.
There are online classes for people who would rather not go to a studio or are unable to - these are great if you have limited mobility or are recovering from an injury. These classes may also be accessible for those who work night shifts and don't want to go to a morning class. Many yoga studios now offer video classes so you can get the benefits of yoga via your laptop! It will be useful to set yourself up with a mat like our rubber yoga mat and any other props you feel would be useful to your practice.
Once you're comfortable with the poses, start to build strength in your muscles by holding each pose a little longer. If it's challenging, don't worry - be proud of yourself for taking on that challenge! Don't be afraid to take time off either or practice less than every day if needed - life is unpredictable so yoga should always fit around whatever else comes our way too.
Yoga can help you sleep better
Yoga can also have sleep benefits, especially for those with sleep problems. Yoga can help you sleep better by helping to regulate sleep patterns and helping you sleep more deeply--plus it's just a great way to relax at the end of the day. Try a few restorative poses before bed to relax your muscles and release tension from the day - this may also help ease anxiety or stress which could be affecting your sleep.
Yoga is a practice that anyone can do and it has many benefits. It can increase flexibility, help you sleep better, improve your mood, decrease stress levels and so much more! The best part about yoga is you don't need to be an expert or even know any poses in order to get started with a personal practice. All you'll need are some comfortable clothes, time for yourself each day, and the willingness to try something new. The bottom line? Enjoy this journey just like you would any other part of your wellness routine! Yoga will benefit all parts of who you are when done mindfully and safely.