Since I started teaching yoga I’ve noticed that too many people say to me, ‘I am not good at yoga’. When I tell people about my classes and invite them to give yoga a try I often hear this in response.
I find it very interesting. Many people think of yoga as a stretching activity. I’d say that’s probably the most common view and yoga is that of course and a lot more. What yoga is definitely not some kind of performance sport. There isn’t even a way to be bad at yoga, so the next time you decide to use this as an excuse not to come to a class remember it.
If you recognise yourself here the following might be helpful. Yoga is a practice. Even if we only talk about the physical aspect of yoga, it is an activity which requires repetition. And progression comes from consistency. At no point it is a competition or a performance in which the one who has their leg up on their shoulder wins (I can’t do it and I’ve never even tried). Plus flexibility depends not only on your practice but on the genes too, some of us might never be able to touch the toes or do a full backbend, and that is natural.
If you spend a lot of your time sitting yoga is one of the best activities you can do for your health. In yoga we are doing a wide range of non-repetitive movements activating various muscles and joints and engaging every part of the body.
If you are only starting out with yoga or possibly never done it, these are a few reasons why you might want to step onto your mat:
- Improve flexibility. One of the obvious benefits. If you stick with the practice you will notice gradual progression and ability to move into postures which previously seemed impossible. Certain tight muscles like hamstrings can cause lower back pain and yoga can help to illuminate it.
- Increase strength and build muscle. Strong muscles not only look good or make you feel fit, they also help to protect from back pain and certain conditions such as arthritis.
- Better posture. Do you have back or neck problems? Compensating for hours of sitting some of the muscles get overused and some get weak creating all sort of issues including bad posture. Yoga can help to balance that.
- Bone health. Many yoga asanas require you to lift your own weight, which helps to increase bone density. Diverse range of movement supports a better blood flow and improves nutrition for joint cartilage (so important for spine disks). Yoga also helps to prevent osteoporosis.
- Regulate hormones. Yoga lowers stress and cortisol levels. When we have cortisol in the blood for long periods of time it sabotages the immune system and leaves us prone to illness and weight gain.
- Sleep better. Restorative postures, pranayama and meditation engage parasympathetic nervous system. This switches off the fight-or-flight regime so many of us operate in and in turn helps to get to sleep easier and improve the sleep quality.
- Stay young. Trying new things helps keeping the mind open, engages taking yourself less seriously and keeps you youthful.
There are many more reasons why yoga is so wonderful. But the best reason is the one that helps you to keep coming back onto the mat and stay consistent with the practice. In fact, don’t listen to anything I’ve just said and go try it for yourself.
Have a lovely day, Marina xx