So you’re thinking about trying yoga? Great! But isn’t yoga just for hippies, or for celebrities and vegans? And what if you’re not flexible? Don’t you need to be able to put your foot behind your head? No, definitely not. There is no single reason to practise yoga, and this ancient practice has benefits for everyone, from those who are very fit and able, to those facing some physical or even emotional challenges. If you are thinking about trying yoga, why not give it a go? Here are a few tips to get you started.
The benefits of Yoga
The many ways in which yoga can add to your life are talked about all the time, from improved flexibility and strength, to better concentration and a reduction in stress levels. But these benefits only scrape the surface. For me, yoga is an opportunity to consider our approach to the
way that we live our lives. On our yoga mats we can analyse our tendencies and habits so that we can make positive changes off the mat, too. With a little time, awareness of the breath and practice, we learn to trust our intuition, to feel rather than think. Don’t we all do enough thinking in our daily lives? Couldn’t we all do a little more breathing and feeling?
Fundamentally yoga is about connecting, in fact the word yoga means union, to connect or join. This includes using our breath to connect
our minds and bodies, considering our hopes and dreams and how to connect with them, connecting with our teachers and fellow students, and even enhancing our connections with the world in which we live. Can you imagine a world full of yogis (yoga practitioners)? And if this all sounds like mumbo jumbo to you, please do try yoga and see what happens. Yoga is far more about practice than theory.
How to get the most out of your Yoga class
Well done – you’ve made it to the class and onto your mat. Now is the time to turn your focus inward. We are so stimulated by the external world, a little time to soften inwards is so powerful. It can be tempting to look around the room at what other students are doing, especially when you’re new to yoga. Instead be as present as possible on your mat and in your own body, on your own little ‘yoga island’. At the end of the day, the way that a pose looks is not so important, your intention and how you feel is what yoga is really about. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, breathe and relax, even giggle at yourself a little. Being able to laugh at ourselves helps us to face life’s inevitable ups and downs.
Be sure to relax and enjoy yourself. You can’t expect to learn and be able to do everything straight away. You wouldn’t want to anyway – just think how boring life would be if you could! Yes you might encounter a steep learning curve when you first start practising yoga, but this time is exciting, mysterious, profound and indescribable. It is a time to cherish rather than ‘get through’. As I have said to my students many times, once you can do a posture you can do it. The process or journey is the good bit. Indeed yoga always emphasises the journey, the here and now, the present, rather than the destination or end result. And there is always something new to learn, always something that someone else can do that you can’t quite manage (for now). This is a good thing; it means that our yoga practice can be humbling. So focus on how your practice feels rather than looks, forget about what everyone else is doing, and most importantly, smile and enjoy yourself!
Jenny believes that everyone can benefit from yoga and enjoys learning from her diverse range of students. A resident teacher at Kaya Health Clubs, she has a light-hearted and playful approach to teaching, and likes to emphasise fun while developing flexibility, strength, balance (physical and emotional) and stillness. Jenny’s love for travel and her passion for yoga are reflected in her first book, Yoga for Travellers, which was published in 2014. As for her second book…you will just have to wait and see.