So you know that yoga can make you feel good, calm and move with more ease. But where do you start with your own yoga practice?
If I had to describe my first ever yoga class in one word it would be HOT!! My first ever experience of yoga was Bikram Yoga and it was a killer!! If you’re not familiar, Bikram Yoga is a set sequence of 26 postures performed over 90 minutes in 105 degree heat at 40% humidity.
The main instruction on your first class is not to leave the room. You may feel dizzy or light headed, but leaving the room part way through the sequence can make you feel worse so should be avoided. This kind of yoga is not for the faint hearted!
Physically it is very challenging, but the mental challenge can be even tougher, as you can either lose yourself in your practice some days, or psych yourself out on others, unable to stop thinking ‘I need to leave the room’.
As a fitness person, I loved the challenge. But I hated it. But I loved it even more. Physically you can really see the benefits particularly in your posture and core over a short period of time, and mentally you look forward to the challenge of the 90 minutes, but dread it at the same time. And there is no better feeling than leaving the class, having a cold water and a shower. You feel amazing. Broken but amazing.
As a fitness person, I thought this is what yoga should be. Not all of that ‘sitting around’ I had seen at other classes, but a physical and mental challenge.
As I began to practice yoga regularly, This led me on to to explore different styles, and I started to appreciate the different aspects of these. I found that I began to realise I could get the amazing high I had gotten from the Bikram classes, without having to always put myself through the hell of the heat and the 90 minutes.
I found that yoga could be physically and mentally challenging without being torture.
The element I struggled the most with yoga classes was the unknown. With Bikram you always knew what you were getting into. With Vinyasa (simply put, this is moving with the breath) or Hatha (taking time to breathe in the postures) yoga it is dependent on the style of the teacher.
I went through a period of attending a local studio’s Saturday morning class, to come away feeling frustrated as the teaching style was so different every week as they rotated teachers. The style varied so much from one week a fast paced vinyasa, to the next a slow yin (postures held for up to 4 minutes) to the following week basically a fitness class.
The aspect I always enjoyed in yoga was not always understanding what we were doing or why. When I went to fitness classes, I would naturally critique the classes as this was my background, and with yoga I loved that I could lose myself.
When I found myself starting to critique the yoga classes I was going to and feeling frustrated, I knew I needed to know more. This led me to my teacher training, which I have found now is only the beginning of my yoga studies, as I am learning and exploring new aspects of yoga every day.
Whatever style of yoga you are drawn to, it’s important to know what you are signed up to. I teach Hatha & Vinyasa Yoga, but would say my style is more aligned with Hatha. I love the feeling of moving with your breath but I always like to give people time to breathe into the postures to see what they notice in their own bodies and minds.
For me, yoga is a contrast to fitness training, a way to feel more balanced, calm and open; ready to face the next challenge in life or the next training session. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t feel challenging, and if you have tried a class with me I am sure you have felt challenged at some point! But I always aim to teach from a place of compassion, allowing you he space to find what feels good for you in your practice.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to start a regular yoga practice, and whichever style you are drawn to, it should make you feel better at the end of class than when you started. Choose a regular practice for yourself that challenges you enough physically and mentally to move out of your comfort zone, into a place where you feel even better ❤️
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See you on the mat!