If you follow me on instagram, you’ll have seen that recently my feed has been scattered with the odd yoga pose. Yoga is something I’ve recently taken up after being inspired by instagram yogis. But it isn’t just the insane poses and urge to get inverted that have encouraged my yogi journey. Infact, the Ancient practice deriving from India over 5000 years ago reaps so many more benefits than just holding a cool pose.
Many of us neglect stretching. I’ll be the first to hold up my hands and say yes, after a tough workout sometimes I just want to get out of there and shower. But stretching is so important for releasing lactic acid, lengthening out those muscles you’ve just spent the last hour shortening and also it’s so relaxing to stretch. In yoga, you practise a series of stretches holding these for up to a minute before moving on to another stretch. Yoga allows you to increase your flexibility in your muscles and joints allowing you a greater range of motion through each session. This massively supports lifting and can improve your technique and range of motion too. I fit my yoga around resistance training sessions and have seen increases in my mobility already.
But yoga isn’t just about the stretching, it’s also incorporative of breathing. It’s not a case of a quick hold your leg up and hold your breath at the same time. But feeling and breathing through the stretch and connecting the movements of the body with your pattern of breathing. Now I’ve really found this to be so relaxing – feeling your breathing and being completely at peace with your body. Of course, there are a number of different styles of yoga including different intensities and flows. But for me, I enjoy practising yoga on my own. Being alone in complete silence, just practising my stretching and breathing. It really is just about being so peaceful and at one with yourself.
There’s also the challenge element involved in yoga. It’s so much about persistence and continuing to practise a move in order to crack it. I’ve found I am so determined to overcome my failures and pick myself back up from that fallen headstand and keep trying. That’s the beauty of it. Learning new skills and challenging your body in ways you would never have thought. I love to see progress too. Week one I couldn’t even kick up to a headstand, now I can hold it for a good 10 seconds.
The good thing about yoga is that it doesn’t have to take up an hour of your life everyday. You also don’t have to commit to classes or a schedule, it can literally be done anytime or anywhere. On a morning, to stretch and awaken your body or on an evening to relax and have time to reflect upon your day. There’s also a number of youtube videos you can access for free to teach you the basic moves and to pick up on a few flows to get you started. Flexibility obviously increases over time, but the feel good vibes from yoga are almost instant.