I first discovered yoga about six months ago when I did a couple of drop-in sessions at a local hot yoga studio. I had a little experience with yoga but not really in terms of meditation and breathing techniques. I challenged myself to do as much yoga as I could in a month and in those four weeks I fell in love with the practice.
Yoga can help you with so many things including living in the present, connecting to your mind, acknowledging your emotions and strengthening patience. It is widely stated that yoga is for everybody and I truly believe that, and there are of course many different types of yoga to choose from to suit your needs. I personally practise hot Hatha a hot Vinyasa flow at my local studio. Hatha is designed to calm and align the body and mind ready for meditation, whereas Vinyasa is more dynamic with poses connecting to one another using breath, balance and strength.
Yoga has definitely added to my quality of life. It has slotted into my fitness routine perfectly, I look forward to it every week and sometimes when I am feeling anxious or have something on my mind I know going to a yoga class will help.
As you may know if you are a regular reader, I have suffered with anxiety for around ten years and I had never really given any sort of meditation a go before these yoga classes even though I had read the mental benefits.
Savasana (corpse pose) at the end of an hour session gives the chance to empty the mind, focus on breathing and enter a truly relaxed state. It is harder than you’d think as some days your brain does not want to be silenced or your body will not release tension. However I have had a lot of success in Savasana and once I nearly drifted off to sleep completely.
When in Savasana I tend to control my breathing by lengthening my breaths and I also use visualisation to keep the awareness of mind and body. As I breath in I visualise my body filling up with fresh new energy and then emptying out of any negative feelings or emotions when I breath out. This has been working really well for me and I leave my classes feeling present and relaxed.
There are many physical benefits you gain from practicing yoga including strength, balance and flexibility. I have been strength training for many years so I was naive in thinking I could jump right in and be absolutely fine, however because of the length of time you hold poses for my muscles still shake.
My wheel post has improved significantly (pictured above) thanks to improving my flexibility through stretching. I am working towards getting my splits back so watch this space!
I underestimated the amount of strength training an hour yoga lesson provides. My muscles shake, I sweat and I am sore the next day like when I weight train at the gym. Yoga has really help increase my upper body strength which is great for me personally as my lower body is so much stronger than my upper.
I still have a long journey to go with yoga as I consider myself a newbie with a lot more to learn which I am excited about. Yoga has taught me to be kinder to myself both mentally and physically. We all have that voice in our head which can be really destructive sometimes, and yoga has helped me find ways to compress that voice and be grateful for who I am just the way I am.
My anxiety has a habit of dragging me back into the past instead of living in the present, and when you practice yoga or meditation the focus is on the now, helping retrain my way of thinking. I know it won’t happen instantly but the more you practice the quicker results will start showing.
A massive thank you to Kiri for the 1:1 session and photos.