Posted on August 05, 2018 by Emily Forbes
Did I tell you I do yoga (lol)? For those of you who attend the studio regularly you’ll know that it is “my thing”. That and of course now my new love, the van (another story)! I am currently training to be a yoga teacher and will graduate in June next year but I am starting to teach some small classes now. Last week one of my teachers posed the question “if an alien landed on Earth, how would you describe yoga to them?” This is a good question, what is yoga?
What is yoga?
- The word “yoga” can be translated from Sanskrit (the ancient language of Hinduism) as “union”. This union is made between the self and the spirit through practices including breath, asana (postures) and meditation. These practices make up different limbs (there are 8) which are explored until you reach samadhi (enlightenment).
- In the western world we mostly engage in the third limb, asana/postures. The idea of practising these postures is to prepare our bodies to be able to sit for long periods of time in meditation.
- In a Hindu scripture yoga is described as “the journey of the self, through the self, to the self”.
Is yoga for me?
- Yes. Yoga is for everyone. And you don’t have to be flexible to do yoga, that comes with practising yoga. An Indian yoga teacher, Pattabhi Jois, worked with quadriplegic individuals, placing them in postures and instructing breath. You don’t have any excuses.
- I may have put you off with all the spiritual talk, but as mentioned, many people will focus on the asana practice. This can help with strength, stamina, flexibility, balance and body alignment. Therefore is a suitable form of exercise for many and can benefit other forms of training you may partake in.
- There are so many different forms of yoga, there is bound to be a style that suits your needs. Don’t try one class and say it is not for you.
- But if the asana practice is not for you then you could try breath work and meditation. Benefits of this are reduction in stress, anxiety and depression, better sleep and focus and feelings of relaxation.
OK, I’m interested. How do I start?
- You need very little to get going. Just your body and some commitment. A mat will help but if you attend a studio this is not essential.
- Attend classes at yoga studios or gyms. Or try it in your own home using YouTube or a private instructor.
- You could learn a set sequence then take it anywhere you like. Practising in nature (beach, woods, park) is particularly uplifting.
- It doesn’t have to be done for hours at a time either. Introduce yourself to it gradually, maybe 10-15min per day would be enough to feel benefits.
There are so many elements to yoga, I believe you take what you need from it and there is something for everyone. I’m always happy to chat about yoga if you want to know more. You can follow my yoga journey on Instagram @tobeawarrior