If you have often wondered about trying a yoga class, yet something has always stopped you, please think again. Whether it be yoga, Tai Chi or Pilates, there is a class to suit you, and it’s not so far away…
Yoga is for everybody, fat or thin, rich or poor, black or white, young or old. Don’t be put off if you try a class and you don’t enjoy it, there are so many different types of yoga that you are bound to find one or two styles that you like. The same thing happened to me, many years ago.
When I was about 18 I attended a yoga class in Brighton and found it so slow, dull and (in my young mind) plain weird, that I decided there and then that yoga was definitely NOT for me. I felt uncomfortable, disheartened and thoroughly disappointed.
Yet here I am 25 years later, composing this blog as a yoga teacher, completely converted to the ways of the Yogi. So what changed my mind?
After a few years of going to the gym, stop-starting with various exercise classes and going through phases of keeping fit then becoming bored with the same old gym routine, I decided to try yoga one more time on the insistence of a friend. I approached the room with trepidation, wondering if it would reek of incense and if we would have to do lots of strange breathing and chanting. Oh well, at least I hadn’t shaved my armpits in a while so I should fit in, I thought ungenerously.
An hour and a half later I came out of that room glowing, both with sweat and with triumph. I loved every minute of the class and was instantly hooked. No chanting had taken place, no incense was burnt and incidentally, I was the only one with unshaven pits that I could see.
Ever since that class I have tried lots of yoga (and Tai Chi and Pilates), and I have found quite a few that I enjoy, although I definitely have a favourite.
Here are a few examples of some yoga styles:
Vinyasa Flow is where students connect their breath to the postures as they flow from one movement to the next, often using the same series of postures (Chaturanga through to Downward-Facing Dog) to link movement throughout the class.
Dynamic or Power Yoga also uses breath with posture, and it is often a fast-paced class with lots of building of upper-body as well as core strength.
Hot yoga is done in a heated room, and again can be a strong workout yet should still ideally be using breath alongside movement.
Restorative yoga is a much slower-paced style, often using props to help people that may have injuries or obstructions that make them less able to cope with a more strenuous class.
All yoga instructors worth their salt should modify the postures for beginners, so that you don’t feel you have to be as flexible as a pretzel from your first class. You will gain flexibility the more you practice, so it is important to remember that everyone was a beginner once, and you are never too old to start yoga.
So as we approach the beginning of a new year, shrug off your concerns and dive into a class. There is no better time than right now.
And who knows, one day, like me, you may wonder how you ever got by without yoga, and you may even begin to look forward to the smell of incense, a lovely, mindful meditation and a little bit of chanting!