Why Are So Many People Doing Yoga?
Want to be stronger, more flexible and more relaxed? Then yoga might just be your answer.
Yoga in its simplest form means union, for me that is moving in unison with your breath. Yoga began in India over 5000 years ago and was later introduced to the West roughly in 19th century but has recently gained increasing popularity.
People’s lives have become progressively busier and more stressful. We spend a large proportion of time sat down, hunched over computers or phones, more people are aware of the importance of exercise and how much stress can negatively impact their lifestyles. Yoga has therefore become a perfect antidote to this.
Physically, yoga has many benefits. It improves flexibility and increases strength in the body, fundamentally helping to relieve pains and enhance posture – allowing you to move around more freely, as well as sit more comfortably. Moving and breathing together serves as a moving mediation, leaving you feeling calm and relaxed. Long term stress can have so many negative effects on our body, from tense muscles, stomach ache and insomnia. Yoga helps you to connect to your breath, consciously slowly the breath down calms the body and the mind which makes your feel more relaxed. I have never walked out of a yoga class feeling worse than when I started, however I am feeling and even if I don’t feel in the mood to do yoga I know I will feel so much better afterwards.
Yoga classes are now available at most gyms, specialist studios and there is a huge amount of content available online such as You Tube, so being able to access classes has probably never been so easy. There really is a yoga class for everyone, depending on what you want out of a class. Rocket yoga is fast paced, lots of inversions and advanced backbends, whereas Yin or restorative yoga is very slow and calming with long deep stretches. Vinyasa classes broadly mean flow yoga, linking movement and breath as you move in between poses. Vinyasa classes will differ between teachers, I teach slower paced vinyasa classes as well as strong power flows.
Incorporating Yoga into your life doesn’t have to take up lots of time or be expensive. Simply spending 10 minutes to stretch out your body, you will start to notice a difference over time. If you are looking to start yoga it might be helpful to find a beginner’s yoga class near you, or just let the teacher know you are new so they can help to explain the poses to you in a bit more depth. Everyone’s body is unique so all poses will look different on people, do what feels right for you and don’t stay in a pose if it feels like it’s causing more damage than good. I encourage people to take my classes at their own speed and offer lots of alternatives so you can always find a version that works for your body.
A lot of people worry they aren’t flexible enough to do yoga, it really doesn’t matter if you can’t touch your toes, we all have to start somewhere. If you do find flexibility hard, especially in your hamstrings then I would suggest in investing in a yoga strap and a block, sit on a block to help tilt your pelvis and use the strap around your feet to help pull you closer.
If you’ve decided to invest in your own mat, then there are lots of different ones available, depending on your budget and requirements. Usually people go for a mat that stops them slipping or/and has cushioning. I use a lot of different brands, some of my favourites are: Cork yogis, Yogibare, Liforme and Manduka, all of which are fantastic.
Sadly, at the moment we can’t practice in a studio but lots of studios and yoga teachers are offering classes online so you can find a time that suits you and you don’t have to live near that particular studio to access their classes. Some of my favourite studios with great online offerings are: Yogarise, Stretch, Kindred, Indaba and Triyoga.
If you decide to do yoga for the first time, please ensure you have checked with a health professional if you have any injuries or health conditions to make sure it is safe to practice, and listen to your body, no one knows it like you do.
Nikki Kay Yoga
Follow me @nikki_kayyoga