Yoga has rocketed to health and fitness stardom over the last few years but as its popularity continues to grow, so do the preconceptions attached to it. You have to be flexible for that right? Don't you get made to chant and stuff? Isn't that just for vegan hippies and pretty little things in tight leggings?
In the spirit of #fitspiration I wanted to help set the record straight.
I had my own preconceptions about yoga as it turns out, trying it out originally thinking yoga was the perfect lazy girl's exercise.
I was never sporty at school but took out the obligatory gym membership at university and it was there that I happily stumbled upon my first yoga class.
The gym was as sociable as the pub and having never mastered the effortless gym-chic look or the ability to run without getting red and sweaty, I took myself off to investigate yoga.
My logic being that you get to lie down in those classes, so they must be easier. To me at that time, yoga was the lazy girl's exercise.
Lured in under false pretences of my own making, I soon discovered there was a lot more to it than lying down in relaxation.
The fact is, yoga can be whatever you want it to be. Soothing and relaxing; fast paced and challenging; grounding and uplifting.
It will help you increase your flexibility, tone and strengthen your body, whilst calming and soothing your mind. In short yoga will get you looking and, importantly, feeling great.
We all started somewhere
People often say to me "I'd like to do yoga but.... I can't even touch my toes", "I'm just terrible at it" or - my personal favourite as someone who used to think it was easy - "I need a stronger workout".
I know yoga can seem intimidating. To the uninitiated it's hard not to be put off by the glamorous yet impossible looking photos flooding our social media streams or the strange words and unknown history of it all.
But let me assure you, we all started somewhere and we are all working on something. The people busting out those incredible yoga moves on instagram worked hard for months, years even, to perfect them.
#fitspiration guide for newbies
I got an email the other day entitled "Newbie" from a shy beginner looking to join my class. I think I managed to put her at ease and should be teaching her next week but for anyone else out there who's been toying with the idea of trying yoga but not managed it yet, here are a few tips:
- You've had years to tighten your muscles up - so don't worry if you can't touch your toes, you'll get there one day.
- Get front row - you'll be able to see the teacher from there and follow the class better so try not to hide at the back.
- Leave your ego at the door - yoga is not a competitive sport, and it doesn't matter what the person next to you is doing. Focus on yourself and let go of that distraction.
- Every day will be different - some days you'll feel strong and balanced, others you'll be all over the place. Just accept where you are and go with it.
- Relax: it's only yoga - don't take it too seriously, smile and enjoy yourself!