I’ve always held the idea of practicing yoga in high regard, with massive respect to those who power through hours of balance, stretching and movement. In 2016 I got the yoga bug and began discovering the far-reaching benefits for myself. Hey, I even got my own yoga mat!
Despite failing to maintain a consistent routine, I think that in the last year alone I tried out a breadth of classes, in all kinds of locations and situations. Without question, my yoga-highlight of 2016 (can this be a thing?) was practicing on a beach-front terrace in Morocco. A week of surfing neccesitated the stretching and still-moments of yoga, and I still dream of being able practice with that sunset view. I’ve also enjoyed classes at The Whitworth museum in Manchester, although it’s worth noting that Shavasana on a cold gallery floor isn’t quite the same. Despite these highlights, there’s been some not so great experiences. I’ve powered through classes in packed-out sweaty gym studios, classes where we barely move for an hour (snooze) and practices in my own front room with a super curious dog for company. Swings and roundabouts!
A dedicated yogi might be able to tell you the life-long benefits of practice but right now, I’m all about the immediate benefits. Here’s what I can tell you from my year of discovering yoga:
I’ve found that so many people put ‘being too inflexible’ as their reason for not trying out yoga but in truth, that should be a driving force for them to give it a go. The same class can benefit the inflexible beginner as much as the advanced yogi, due to the variations available for each movement. When I was able to stick at practicing for consistent periods of time, I definitely started noticing improvements to my flexibility week-on-week. Measurable improvement, such as being able to stretch that bit further, is great motivation to keep on going.
2. Muscle Strength
I don’t think I ever appreciated just how much strength is required, even for a basic yoga sequence or pose. A beginner’s class would leave my arms wobbling and legs shaking but I’ve finally started to notice some changes in my strength. Muscle improvement is often slow to show and I definitely want to keep working on this in the new year. I’m thinking hand stands, back bends…
Taking just 30 minutes out from my day to do some yoga, has a huge impact on my focus. I love having a moment away from my phone/ laptop screen to rest and re-fresh. If I ever have the time to do some quick stretches in the morning and run through the day ahead before uni, even better.
4. Ambition for health and wellness
Writing this post has reminded me just how much I value the benefits of yoga, both physical and mental. With the idea behind yoga being total health and wellness, it really forces me think about how I look after my body in all senses. Motivation in that respect can only be a good thing.