There are few places today where we aren't able to see our reflection - mirrors abound, selfies taken at every opportunity not to mention the media obsession with perfect looks.
Yoga is one of the only spaces where all devices are out of sight and the external is abandoned.
I used to hear friends singing its praises when I was in my hard core spin phase. No pain no gain. But one day I caught myself grimacing in one of the mirrors, sweat poring down my gaunt face and I knew something wasn't quite right. For sport for me was about getting thin or competing with the other nutter cyclist next to me.
When I discovered yoga I was going through some very tough times and my confidence was at an all time low - broken marriage, job loss and no home (my parents kindly took me in). So I took myself off to Australia to escape it all, my equivalent of Pray in Eat Pray Love. I had done the odd yoga class in some uber trendy corner of London but nothing prepared me for this. Doing sun salutations to the actual sun, learning Buddhist wisdoms about synchronicity, intentions and love.
I gave up all external trappings for a while, ate raw food, dyed my hair with henna and refused to kill even an ant.
Of course I had to come back from this hippy bubble at some point but it armed me for life, for a few months later my father fell I'll with terminal cancer and without my mat I wouldn't have been able to help with him with comforts such as meditation.
Yoga is for everyone of every age of every agility. Its not just for the young buff brigade. Gandhi apparently practised it till he died in his 70s. It is an hour and half journey on the inside through postures that activate all kinds of energy fields as well as nervous system and muscles. At the beginning it can seem long boring even but after a while when the head stops nagging with annoying thoughts but after a while a peace sets in. Its almost as if you are under water and the crashing waves on the surface are your life.
The world we live in can be toxic, and pollute us with negative thoughts and behaviours. Feeling low, checking facebook, seeing cool friends hang out without you. Work isn't much fun, its tempting to go out drinking after. Boyfriend issues can lead to us indulging in bingeing.
There is a yoga posture for every problem. Heres a quick taster of what you could be experiencing.
Feel like you'll never meet the 'one'?
Back bends (or the crab) - these are incredible heart openers, bring up all kinds of emotions. I once burst into tears after one for I had stored up so much hurt. They also stretch out the chest and free up our airways.
Don't believe in yourself?
Headstand - this is often a freaky posture, as it literally turns our world upside down. But with the right teacher you can work up to doing a free standing version which gives you such a sense of achievement.
Anxious and nervous about little things?
Meditation - easier said than done, but sitting cross legged against a wall for support for ten minutes can reset the brain totally and if you do it for 21 days it can change your state of mind considerably. There are heaps of good techniques online. I always like to focus on a word that's important to me at the time - peace, freedom, compassion. Say the word over and over again, if things come into your head don't fight against them let them drift in and out. Buddhists believe if we think something hard enough it can come true or manifest.
Feeling afraid of facing a problem?
Warrior pose - this is the yogic equivalent of getting ready for a fight. Stand with your feet part, front leg forward and bend it, then stretch arms out before and behind. You feel immediately empowered, especially if you stare through your middle finger into the distance. Imagine its the thing you fear, stare straight into its eye.
Feeling lonely, need a hug?
Happy baby pose - (or dead bug) - simply lie on your back lift legs up, hold on to them and rock around like a baby in a cradle. It will get you giggling despite yourself.