If you’re looking for a post about the philosophy of yoga, how I cleaned my chakras (or whatever you do with chakras…) or how yoga is the response to all bad things in life, then you’re in a totally wrong place. I’m sure Google can take you somewhere that will play right into this theme, but I’m way too no-nonsense for that. So… if you’re down to earth, like me, here are some of the reasons why I head to yoga class twice a week.
You don’t have to adjust to it, it can adjust to you
In most fitness classes I went to, I heard that I should “push myself” or “try harder”. It made me feel obliged to do things my body was saying no to. I really dislike being forced to do things, which is why I was very positively surprised when in my first yoga class I heard that I should listen to my body and do what feels right on that specific day. Almost every pose has various alternatives, suitable for people of different levels of experience. I never feel that I have to do something, I push myself a little bit more every time because I want to.
It gives me time to focus on my body
Most forms of exercise (Zumba, jogging, aerobics, spinning etc.) are mostly about doing a lot in a short span of time to burn the maximum number of calories. Yoga is more about the correct body alignment, gentle stretches, where you gradually go deeper with each class, taking things one step at a time. I can take a break in the middle of the class if I need it, and not feel guilty or be nagged by the instructor, because the session is all about me and how I’m feeling. For example, last week I had an issue with my wrist, but I could still practice by adjusting some poses and skipping others, and the instructor gave me some extra attention, showing adjustments to take pressure of wrists.
It calms me down
I leave every practice calmer, and with a smile, no matter how tough it was inside, and I feel like just being silent for a while. For someone who has a million thoughts a minute and almost can’t stop talking, this feeling is a rather unique one, so I cherish it every time it happens. It can be either a great start or end to the day, either way, it’s a really nice feeling.
It doesn’t require a lot of equipment
The only thing you will need is a mat, which the gym/yoga school will provide if you’re taking a class. If you’re exercising at home, you can get a basic one quite cheaply. You don’t even need shoes, which is great. My whole outfit is a pair of Primark leggings and a cotton T-shirt. So while weight lifting or even running will require a certain investment upfront, yoga focuses on using your body weight instead. It might seem lightweight, but just try it and you will realise how heavy your body is. Trust me.
There is something for everyone
There are different types of yoga, some are more fast-paced, some more meditative, so you can choose whichever suits you more. The yoga I chose is vinyasa, which is fairly fast-paced and you don’t stay in one pose for long. Bikram yoga will have you sweating a lot, as it is performed in a heated room. Iyengar yoga is all about precision of alignment, with significant amount of time spent in each of the poses. If you do a bit of searching, you’re sure to find something that will suit your needs and temperament. (Here is a short guide to different types of yoga you may find useful: http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/yoga-for-beginners-kundalini-yin-bikram/).
At first it may be good to check what your local gym has to offer, as full-blown yoga schools can be quite expensive. Personally, I am quite content with the classes offered at my university gym. Yoga really has a lot to offer and is definitely worth giving it a go. You may find that you fall in love, just the way I did.