Ever wondered what all the fuss is about with yoga? Have you tried a few classes but just couldn't get into it? Have you ever thought yoga was the 'easy' option when it comes to exercise?
I used to say yes to all three of the above, so I'd LOVE to change your mind. I chatted with Hannah from Food Intelligence to tell her my yoga journey. Hopefully, it inspires you to give it another try!
I used to be a runner. If I wasn’t sweating, it wasn’t worth my while. While I hated running, I always felt like I had to do it – to help me lose weight or feel less guilty about the not so healthy snack I had at 3 pm.
I had always thought yoga was just stretching. I thought it was easy – a waste of an hour where I could be getting a ‘real’ workout. It wasn’t until I had a knee injury which prevented me from running that I thought I’d give yoga a go – you know, take it easy and give my body a “break” while my knee recovered. Wow, was I wrong. What I discovered over the next month of intense yoga has changed my world. Its changed my mindset, my body, my relationship with food and my career. If you have always thought about yoga, but never taken the plunge, let me convince you to at least try.
You’ll be fitter than you think: Despite practically giving up running, I have never felt more fit in my life than when I practiced yoga four times a week. I ran a 14km fun run after no training in a better time than when running was my exercise of choice and I had actually trained. The amazing thing about yoga is that it forces you to breathe – and to breathe through pain and discomfort. You need to hold your poses steady, despite the challenge, which will increase your fitness and strength.
It will change your perspective on exercise:
We are lucky enough to live in a place where there are many different types of yoga – vinyasa flow, hatha, yin, chill flow, yoga fusion, yoga with music, athletica yoga, aerial yoga… we are spoilt for choice! Use this to your advantage and go to a different type of yoga depending on the mood you are in. If it’s the start of the week you might feel like a more energetic flow class compared to a lazy Sunday where you might like to try a chill flow or yin class. Matching your class to your mood will increase enjoyment. Enjoying exercise? You can’t complain!
You’ll feel leaner: I never knew how inflexible I was until I began yoga. While it takes practice and patience, my flexibility and core strength have improved significantly since yoga. I walk out of class feeling leaner, stronger and (depending on the class) like I have just had a massage. It’s important for your muscles to stretch and strengthen in order to prevent injury and improve posture.
You’ll be more balanced mentally: If you're like me, you are constantly thinking about what you need to do next and rushing from one thing to the next. During yoga, your teachers will encourage you to focus on where you are right now. They will tell you the only place you need to be is on your mat. Don’t think about what you did before the class, don’t think about what you need to do after the class. Just be. It takes practice, but once you get there, it’s amazing how only thinking in the present can free up your mind of all the little niggling things in your head. You’ll feel elevated and fresh by the time you leave class.
No matter what sparks your curiosity about yoga, it's well worth giving a try. Like other activities, yoga is more enjoyable when you feel comfortable and feel like you know what you are doing. For that reason, I always suggest to buy a month-long trial pass at a studio and commit to going at least 3 times per week. Really try and get into it. Alternatively, watch some beginner yoga videos on YouTube to learn some of the poses before you go to your first class.
Jess, Yellow Willow Founder