There are various reasons why I choose to practice yoga, here's my top ten :
1) Yoga is all about breathing and stretching. Although I am a runner, like many runners, I neglect to stretch enough.Yoga gives me an hour or more of pure stretching - Perfect.
2) In yoga you work at your own level, like everything else, the more you go the better you get. Yoga, when practised enough, can make you really flexible. My brother took up yoga at his local gym just before his fortieth birthday, when he was struggling to reach his feet to get his socks on (!). Now, not twelve months later, not only is he teaching yoga, but he has lost about two stone in weight and can do a full splits. It's not just through yoga that he has achieved all of this of course, but the yoga has definitely helped his flexibilty, and the change in him has been just amazing.
3) People think yoga is easy.. wrong ! It can be quite hard, and it definitely raises your heart rate - and that's a good thing.
4) Yoga is non-competitive. Resist the urge to look around the room and see what others are doing, yoga really is all about you and what you can do. For me, this is a change from my running, where it's all about who's in front and who's coming up from behind.
5) Yoga teaches you how to breathe. As someone who quite frequently breathes too rapidly and too shallow, yoga reminds me how to breathe.. slowly and from my stomach.
6) Yoga practise is all about focusing on the present moment and what you are doing right this minute, right now, and forgetting everything else. For me, most of the time I am thinking about a gzillion other things, yoga lets me zone out, and quite literally free my mind.
7) Most yoga classes have a relaxation phase between ten and twenty minutes in length, where you lie on the floor and let your body sink into the floor and totally relax your whole body. I honestly think that I have felt more relaxed doing this, than when I'm asleep sometimes !
8) There are many different types of yoga. I'll be honest, I would love to try hot yoga, I would imagine as your muscles warm up you can probably get an even better stretch, and a better yoga experience.
9) Yoga can be practised by everyone, children, pregnant women, the elderly, male, female etc..
10) Yoga gives a whole body and mind experience. I leave yoga classes feeling energized, refereshed, relaxed and warm.
If you know of a yoga class near you, go on, give it a go ! Nameste.
AN UPDATE> I wrote this last night, before I went and tried out a new yoga class, it was wrong, wrong on a couple of levels:
Firstly, the room was cold, too cold. Usually once you are warmed up you can take your lighter hoodie top off and do your yoga in a loose fitting top. I took my hoodie off, but after a few minutes I put it back on. Cold rooms equals cold muscles which can result in pulled muscles. The room should be warm.
The teacher should walk around the room and check your poses, I know that in some classes the teacher will just call the poses and the breathing, but I need to know if I'm doing it right or not. This teacher did come and see me when she heard my knees crunch, but not when I was doing other positions.. which is a shame.
I have another class to try out on Thursday, which is half an hour longer than the one I did on Monday, and also slightly cheaper, so it will be interesting to see how this one differs. This class is a brand new, never-run-
before class, so it will be nice to be there for the first class ...
UPDATE no. 2: Thursday - I am now back from my second yoga class this week, and what a treat it was. A warm(ish) room, plenty of blankets provided too, lovely incense wafting, a teacher that cared enough to come and check out our poses, (some interesting poses at that - shoulder stand, or fish anyone?), with a nice warm up..and the most amazing relaxation session at the end. I will definitely be returning next week, and if I was able to, I would go to the Saturday class too - praise indeed !