Lots of people think yoga is not for them. I often hear people say they like to sweat when they exercise (I always suggest Bikram), or they like to know how many calories they are burning- perhaps they feel that in order for exercise to be beneficial it should be punishing in some way. But I believe the many physical and emotional benefits of yoga can help everyone. And so I ask, shamelessly ripping off John Cleese and Monty Python …
What has Yoga ever done for us?
Gives you strength- your core, your arms, your legs, your back, your abs, your neck, your feet, fingers and toes… I could go on. And flexibility - practice regularly and you will notice pretty quickly!
All right, I'll grant you that the strength and flexibility are two things that yoga has done...
Breathing techniques - very specific skills you learn in yoga which help reduce stress and anxiety. By being able to control your breath you are then able to control some of the feelings associated with tension. You can practice the breathing anytime, anywhere (although you may get some strange looks from your colleagues if you go for some loud ujjayi in the middle of your open plan office)
Well the breathing goes without saying, obviously you learn about breathing.
Body awareness - the ability to listen to your body and work with it is something everyone can benefit from. In yoga you are constantly noticing how your various body parts are feeling, the difference between challenge and aggression. And that's not all, it boosts energy levels - you leave a great yoga class feeling refreshed and with a bounce in your step
Yes, all right fair enough...
Wait, there's more-
Alleviates back ache - lots of people try yoga to help with back ache, neck problems or various other aches and pains. Then they discover how much they enjoy the class, and so they continue practice long after the original pain has subsided.
Aids sleep - insomnia is a common problem and rather than turn immediately to medication, why not try some of the relaxation techniques you learn in a yoga class?
Calms the mind - during yoga practice you learn techniques to quieten that noisy, chattering brain. You come away better able to focus and as a result are way more productive.
Combats depression - various studies have shown that yoga can help reduce feelings of depression. Practicing mindfulness is a big part of yoga; acknowledging thought and then letting it go. You are also so focused on what you are doing that there is less time for negative thinking.
Alright, alright... but apart from calming the mind and breath work, boosting energy and alleviating pain and insomnia and combating depression and strength and flexibility and body awareness.. what has yoga done for us?
OH SHUT UP!
Clair has practiced yoga for 12 years. A mum of two young children, she also volunteers as a breastfeeding peer supporter and enjoys helping mothers with the challenges a new baby can bring and assisting them with achieving their goals, whatever they may be.