I love yoga.
This isn’t something I thought I’d ever say, being rather inflexible and a bit of a chunky monkey. When I first started on this journey, and I had two problems with yoga. Firstly, surely if you’re trying to lose weight, you should be sweating and working really hard at a slightly uncomfortable pace. Yoga seemed like an indulgent exercise for super-svelte, bendy people who didn’t have any real weight to lose.
And secondly – and I am aware that this is a total contradiction from the last point – OUCH. That’s gotta hurt.
Obviously I was wrong – but let’s face it, when you’re that heavy, yoga seems so far out of your comfort zone that you might as well exercise on the moon. It just doesn’t seem right. But now, I’d recommend it to anyone.
So what’s so great about it?
Before I begin, take a moment to watch this amazing video that I found on Heather C’s blog, The View From My Mat (which is an excellent read for anyone interested in yoga – she’s great!) If that video doesn’t inspire you to give yoga a go, I don’t know what will. I mean, I thought I had some pretty good excuses up my sleeve, but that guy? Consider me silenced. He’s living proof that no matter where you begin, the right attitude and the willingness to try (and keep trying until, and after, it hurts) will get you to where you want to go.
If that’s not reason enough to give it a try, here are a few other reasons I love yoga (and you should too):
If you’re just arriving at the realisation that you want to get fit, no matter what your size, shape or fitness level, yoga can look really, really difficult. But a good yoga instructor will appreciate that everyone works at their own pace. It’s not meant to hurt – it’s meant to feel good. There’s no need to throw down your mat and dive straight into the Crow position. Go easy on yourself and just go as far as feels comfortable for you, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you improve.
You can do it at home.
When you’re first starting out, going to a class seems pretty scary – and I’ll admit, it’s still not something I do often even now. It’s intimidating to stand in a class (and in front of those enormous mirrors) and try to feel relaxed when you know other people are watching – even if they’re not!
When I first started out, it was me, a mat, and a DVD, in the privacy of my own (fairly cramped) bedroom. I was TERRIBLE. No balance, rubbish knees, and I fell over repeatedly (I’m not going to lie – I still fall over quite a lot) – but it didn’t matter, because it was just me and my mat. As time progressed, I got better and better, and noticed changes in one area of my body at a time. Each time I got to the end of the workout, there’d be one exercise that I was slightly better at – and as a result, next time I’d go in with a little more confidence… Et voila. I kept getting better.
(If you’re interested, the DVD I started out with seems to be quite difficult to get hold of here in the UK – but I think it’s in four parts on Youtube, here. Sara Ivanhoe is definitely one of my favourite instructors, and I’d recommend this workout if you’re new to yoga and trying to get fit – it’s a good place to start!)
It’s good for the soul.
Yes, I’m wandering into slightly cliched territory here – but there are a lot of benefits to yoga beyond physical fitness. I’m never more relaxed than when I’ve started my day with yoga, for a lot of reasons. The deep breathing helps you to relax, improves your mood, ability to concentrate, and sense of all-round wellbeing… To name but a few.
I’ve definitely felt less stressed over the last couple of months, now that yoga’s part of my regular routine – and while I won’t say it’ll work miracles (for instance, when I burnt my hand on the oven and the neighbours were hammering things into the wall all day, I was anything but a zen master) it does make a big difference to how I feel inside and out.
Those are just three of the reasons I love yoga – but there are a hell of a lot more here if these aren’t enough.
And on that note – time for yoga!