WANTED TO START YOGA FOR A WHILE...
Starting yoga can be INTIMIDATING.
I still remember my first yoga class. I was incredibly nervous. I didn’t know what to wear. I thought I would get stared at and laughed at by the other people in the class. I wanted to shrink into the background. I had no idea what to expect let alone anything that we were going to do.
Happily, it wasn’t as scary as I had anticipated. Over the years of practicing yoga I have gained: strength, flexibility, confidence, awareness, courage, less pain in my back and knees, weight control and sass!
Yoga represents more than contorted postures and handstands. There is something for everyone and a style of yoga for everyone. Yoga has so much to offer like meditation, breathing practice, slow classes, strength training, fast cardio classes and mindfulness.
Are you looking to achieve more progress, a clearer mind, a calmer demeanour, stronger muscles, controlled breathing, confidence and better balance???
LOOKING TO STAY HEALTHY AND ENJOY DOING IT AT THE SAME TIME?
Listen I will be the first in line to tell you about all the money I’ve spent on diets, diet pills, gym memberships, fads and quick weight loss tactics. I will also be the first to tell you that NONE of them worked. Maybe I lost a bit of weight but I ALWAYS put it back on and I wasn’t happy
It wasn’t until I started a yoga practice that I realised there could be an enjoyable way to move my body and that when I was happy and moving the size of my waistline matters less and less! I am NOT a natural yogi. I am inflexible, I struggle with balance and I don’t look like the yogis on instagram. BUT GUESS WHAT? THAT DOESN’T MATTER!
Yoga is an ancient practice with origins stretching back thousands of years in India. It is designed to help achieve a more positive outlook on life with focus, progress and mindfulness. The word ‘yoga’ itself means ‘union’ and Patanjali calls it ‘the quieting or control of the chatter of the mind.’
You can do yoga with any body shape, you can do yoga at any age and you can do yoga even if you move like the tin man! I believe that everyone can do yoga and everyone SHOULD do yoga. There is lots of exciting and difficult postures and transitions in yoga that you can aim to achieve but there is far more on offer than flexibility and strength. People of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities can do yoga and adapt it to suit their individual tastes and needs.
Still not convinced? I urge you to reconsider and here are my top 7 reasons on why you should start practicing yoga in 2021.
1. YOGA MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER
I know it sounds really simple and almost too good to be true BUT it’s one of the MAJOR reasons so many people practice yoga. You just feel better. No one ever leaves a yoga class and says ‘I really wish I didn’t do that!’ A beginner’s challenge or course is best for you if you’re new to yoga.
Going to a really good yoga class is like a spring clean for your mind. It can change your perspective, help you forget about the negative and allow you to be more grateful and present. Shortly after you start to practice you will feel the benefits of being more open, present and happier. If you still don’t believe me, try it – join my FREE 5 day START YOGA NOW challenge.
2. IT'S A GREAT WORKOUT
Working out, for whatever reason you do it, is great for the physical body. Think of a car abandoned and unused- it starts to rust, seize up and eventually stops working. Our bodies are very similar.
Yoga can provide intense cardio, strength and core classes that get your heart rate up and your blood pump’n. The best thing is that no matter your level you can adapt and modify the poses so suit your abilities. With regular practice you will see your fitness levels improve, your muscles grow stronger and the postures getting easier.
As a beginner you might start with a slower hatha class but as you gain strength and confidence a vinyasa flow, power or rocket yoga class is where you want to go for a proper sweat fest!
Yoga is viewed as a gentle practice, but I never really knew how hardcore some classes could be. Yoga is a great way to keep your body toned inside and out.
3. REDUCES STRESS AND ANXIETY
Want to reduce stress, anxiety or other negative thoughts?
Stresses to our mental health not only affect our emotions but can physically take a toll on us as well. Practicing yoga encourages relaxation, lowers stress hormones like cortisol and releases endorphins. The positive side effects of this are lowering blood pressure, lowering heart rate, improving digestion and boosting the immune system.
Can’t argue with that can you!?
Regular yoga sessions may boost your mood too, especially if you’re feeling down. Some people use yoga to manage their mild-to-moderate anxiety and/or depression.
There are so many reasons why yoga helps with mental health, mood and anxiety but one of the best tools for this is meditation. There is an element of meditation in every yoga class, most classes will start or end or both with a touch of meditation. Yoga helps us life our life with focus and intention and it’s our meditation practice that strengthens our connection with this.
Meditation doesn’t have to look like the classic image of someone sitting on a cushion, with incense and a candle burning. A meditation can be as short as a couple of minutes. You just need some quiet alone time and your mind.
Meditation improves your quality of life by allowing your mind some time to process everything that goes on in your life. Because your mind will be quieter and clutter-free it is easier to direct the energy to where you want it to go.
Before I started to practice yoga I was all over the place and felt like I had no idea what direction I wanted to go. Yoga has helped me live a more present and considerate life.
4. ENHANCES PROPRIOCEPTION AND AWARENESS
Sounds weird doesn’t it? Build awareness of your body like you’re not aware of the thing you live and move in. But it’s true.
Most people struggle to control their limbs and muscles and balance. We’ve only got one body so why wouldn’t we want to learn how to use it better?
Doing yoga on a regular basis will really get you to be much more in tune with your body and know when something is really working and when it isn’t. Not only does yoga teach you how to move with more control but it also helps you tune into how you’re feeling and be in more control of those emotions. This awareness is called proprioception and will help keep you safe throughout your life.
5. HARNESS THE POWER OF YOUR BREATH
Yoga is breathing and breathing is yoga. Often referred to as pranayama this practice has great power to change the body and the mind at a cellular level. The exercises encourage a more focused and centred way of breathing while providing methods of effective stress-management and generally make you feel much better.
We are born breathing and many of us never give it another thought. There is a whole world of learning and techniques that we can use in different situation throughout our life.
Our breath and our brains are connected in a feedback loop. Yoga brings awareness and control to our breath patterns, allowing us to notice when our emotions are affecting our breath, and using the breath to calm our emotions. In times of stress (a fight with a partner, a child misbehaving, an aggressive email from your boss) a deep breath is the single thing that separates you from making the situation worse or handling it with care to not exacerbate it further.
The more you can connect with your breath, the clearer you think, even in difficult situations. Breathing has been proven to physiologically impact the heart, brain, digestion and immune system.
6. IMPROVES SLEEP
Struggle to sleep or stay asleep?
Up to 68% of Americans have said they have struggled to sleep at one point in their life. Yoga can 100% help you sleep longer, deeper and less interrupted. For many of us our minds are stressed out and over stimulated but our bodies have barely moved. There is a disconnect with our mind whizzing and our physical body not being tired to assist in the sleeping. Studies have shown that doing yoga can help us get off to sleep more quickly, which usually leads to a much better quality of sleep.
If stress and anxiety is keeping you up you already know that Yoga helps with this too! In the yoga classes you learn how to activate and connect to your parasympathetic nervous system which aids in rest and digestion. How about the final pose, Savansana? This is literally teaching us how to shut down, let go and slip away into slumber. I’ve definitely fallen asleep at the end of a yoga class before! Believe me, this really works and should be done at home. You will sleep better!
7. IMPROVES POSTURE
Let’s face it all of our postures have taken a hit during lockdown. We are sitting more, hunching more and moving less. Your body will be telling you how unhappy this is making it.
Yoga is pretty darn effective at helping you develop the strength and mobility to improve posture. Yoga alignment works on straightening and lengthening the spine. Good posture is a lovely added benefit from a regular yoga practice!
Not only will you feel better and have less back pain but you’ll walker taller and feel more confident in a body that feels happier! Yoga increases mobility so that you can bring more ease to your movement and don’t feel so stuck in your body.
Another reason that posture is improved with yoga is because the poses in yoga teach you to properly engage your core to support the body while still or moving. Better posture reduces anxiety, improves productivity, reduces back pain, and helps you breathe deeper.
SO WHAT'S HOLDING YOU BACK?
These 7 reasons are really only the tip of the beneficial iceberg that is yoga. The incredible thing about yoga is that you’re never ‘done’ or ‘perfected’ yoga, as your life changes your yoga practice will too.
Do you want to rid yourself of negative self beliefs and feel empowered to start something new? Gain the confidence through strength, flexibility and breath? Enjoy movement and exercise and feel excited to get on the mat each day?
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