5 Reasons to try Yoga
It's that time of the year when everyone is thinking about resolutions, getting fit and hitting the gym for their “beach ready bod.” (Spoiler alert: if you have a bod and you're on the beach, then it's ready.)
But what about yoga?
Here are 5 reasons to try yoga this year!
1. It's a well rounded work out
There's certainly something very appealing about sexy, bendy Instagram posts. But before I started practising yoga I truly didn't believe a physical yoga session was enough exercise to actually keep fit. Boy was I wrong.
Since starting yoga I have built strength, endurance and flexibility, all without heaving along the pavement or touching any weights. And since yoga connects breath with movement, you can get a good cardio workout without the puffing and panting.
2. You don't need to be rich
... live on kale smoothies, own anything from Lululemon or be a mum.
Does even the word yoga start you conjuring images of young affluent Western mums contorting their bodies to find some Eastern stillness in their otherwise draining lives? I won't lie, depending on where you go, yoga is a popular stress break for mums. That's because many mothers find yoga practice to help tremendously with anxiety and provides a space in their day without distractions. But I think we can agree that we all deserve a moment of reflection and quiet in our day.
Whilst I really enjoy the community and atmosphere of the yoga studio, a great way to start without the expense is watching YouTube yoga videos. The only thing to keep in mind is to be careful with your body. Most good yoga videos will give you a heads up about pain points to watch out for when you practise, but with or without a teacher watching over you, always be careful not to overstretch to the point of pain. Luckily there are so many videos aimed at beginners right through to advanced so there's no need to fork out, leave your bedroom or even put on real clothes.
And speaking of clothes, there is definitely no rule that says you must spend at least $120 on a pair of yoga pants to practise yoga. As long as you're comfortable, be it in your baggy tshirt or pyjamas, you can practise. If you do find yourself surrounded by sexy tights and floral sports bras, just remember that you are comfortable and stay in your space. You can even close your eyes if that helps.
3. Down dog is only one part
Being an ancient practise, unsurprisingly yoga has changed a lot over the thousands of years it has been practised. Certainly more modern Western practises tend to focus on the physical part of yoga. But that really is all it is, one part. Commonly we refer to the “8 limbs” of yoga, which are:
Yamas - Think of these like core values.
Niyamas - Self discipline
Asana - Physical poses. (Aha! Here's the downward facing dog!)
Pranyama - Breathing
Pratyahara - Sensory withdrawal
Dharana - Concentration
Dyana - Meditation
Samadhi - Enlightenment (woo! - no pun intended, a big topic for another day)
There's so much to cover in each of these, so if you're interested maybe it's time to try out some yoga! You can get started with this great little summary of the 8 limbs here.
4. It's not a religion and you can take it at your pace.
Practising Yoga isn't a religion and therefore does not conflict with any of your existing beliefs. You can study each part or pose as far as you like and on days you're feeling tired or unwell, you can scale it back to a quieter pace or focus just on breathing and stretching. It also doesn't necessarily mean you need to practise all 8 limbs. Certainly you can practise mindful breathing without holding a headstand. Just as you could hang out in down dog without any inclination of becoming enlightened. And you can definitely practise meditation without ever touching your toes.
5. You can do it anywhere and anytime.
I distinctly remember declining an invitation to a yoga class when I was 19 because I thought it was an “old person’s exercise.” Funnily enough, when I recently invited my mum to a yoga class and she said that she didn't want to try yoga with all the young people around her.
But actually the reason I started yoga was because I was living alone overseas and was interested in a form of exercise I could do at home in my pyjamas. I've since practised on the beach, in the snow, in my grandmother’s living room and even at the office.
Because you don't actually need anything to practise, and you can choose different elements to practise you really can practise anytime and anywhere. One of the most satisfying realisations about being a yogi is knowing it is for life. I know that there could be a day when I might not be able to do a push up, squeeze into my lycra dance-pants or drive to a studio. There really is a time and place for everything. But knowing I have a practise I can continue right unto my death bed brings me a beautiful reassurance.
Yoga is for everyone of any age and ability. It's a continuous practise. And it's for life.