One of the many things I have tried with the time I have on my hands in lockdown is Yoga. When I started it, I was convinced I would try it once or twice then get bored and give up – as I do with quite a few things. Fast forward 3 months and I now do 3 sessions and week and have a Yoga path/goal that I want to follow.
One of the main reasons I decided to try Yoga was because of the acclaimed benefits. Studies show Yoga is great for the body and the mind. The focus on breathing and a flow (or routine) calms the mind, decreases stress and reduces anxiety. For the body, Yoga is great for increasing flexibility, strength and balance. Overall health benefits are increased sleep quality, chances of decreased inflammation and better heart health. There is also a lower chance of injury than in other physical exercise. That’s not to say that it’s impossible to injure yourself. Yoga should almost always be led by a teacher and must be the right level for your ability.
I have followed some of “Yoga with Adriene” classes on YouTube before and found them quite interesting but didn’t stick to them long enough to see the benefits. However when I found out that a friend was a qualified yoga instructor and was offering free Zoom sessions during lockdown, I jumped at the chance to try it again!
Naturally the first few sessions were difficult – it takes a while to get used to the breathing and transition between poses. However, after a couple of weeks, I started to feel and see some progress. In general, I felt more calm. Some muscles felt stronger and my flexibility has improved. This is likely because the sessions I go to are all slightly different.
On Mondays, we have a “Warrior Flow” session which covers some of the most well-known Warrior poses and is quite fast paced which raises the heart rate and works the whole body. Thursdays is Hatha Yoga which is similar but there is a little more stretching involved. On Sundays we do Yin yoga which is my favourite. It is heavily focused on flexibility so each position is held for around 3-5 minutes, really allowing the muscles to stretch out. It’s a great way to finish the week.
I think practicing Yoga has increased my quality of live significantly. When I get out the mat for a session, I know I will feel great during and afterwards. It perfectly lines up with my fitness goals and gives me a bit of an escape from the world for an hour or so.
Now that I have got a grasp of the basics, I have ambitious goals for my Yoga journey. I have been inspired by the huge yoga community on Instagram which is full of ridiculously slim and bendy people. In the next 6 months or so, I’d like to be able to progress to headstands and handstands. I’m also going to aim to do a full split and forward fold! Hopefully consistent practice and perseverance will help me.
If you’re considering trying Yoga but consider yourself to be a novice, it’s definitely worth giving it a try. I’ve realised, no one really is a complete beginner when it comes to Yoga. It is a part of nearly every aspect in life – even if you don’t formally practice Yoga. If you’re a fitness enthusiast, some of your warm up and down stretches would have stemmed from Yoga poses. Small things such as correcting your posture when you’re at your desk or simply being able to hold you balance easier are both elements of Yoga.
For beginners, I’d suggest getting some basic Yoga gear – a mat and block would be essential. A strap helps for some stretches too. I’d recommend searching YouTube for some beginner flows and understanding the basics such as Sun Salutations. If you have a local in-person Yoga class that would be perfect! I’m still attending virtual ones for now. You can find the classes I attend at Dancing Dog Yoga.
Maybe one day I’ll be a fully-fledged Yogi.