Yoga - is it for you?
When you go to the gym there are two ways of approaching your work-out: you can throw yourself into the activity, pump out the repetitions, hoist up the weights and work your body to near exhaustion; or you can take a cerebral approach, listening to your body, responding to its needs and concentrating upon the impact you are having on your muscles.
This in effect, is the difference between pure physical exercise and the more thoughtful movement associated with Yoga, Pilates and exercises that involve stretching and balancing movements, rather than sheer strength and power.
Both are equally effective, both should be used to complement each other. Taking the example of modern day footballers, rugby players and tennis players – intensely tough workouts are followed by equally intense yoga sessions to help recovery, increase flexibility and improve performance.
While footballers credit yoga with improving their game and prolonging their career, it is an equally effective exercise for regular gym goers, occasional runners or stressed out business people. What yoga does is add balance to your body and mind.
Here are some frequently asked questions:
1. How often should I practise yoga?
A weekly class will help you learn the techniques of yoga. As you start to feel the benefits you may want to add more yoga to your weekly routine. This could comprise one hour session and three/four 15 minute sessions complementing other workouts.
2. Do I need a high level of fitness to do yoga?
The extreme positions in which you see the top Yogis is at the far end of the scale! Yoga is an activity that is suitable for just about everyone. You just need to talk to an instructor to find the level that suits you.
3. Do I need to meditate?
The meditation aspect of Yoga allows us to kind stillness and peace, essential for mental well-being. This doesn’t mean you need to spend hours chanting, but just a few minutes when you are not hunched over a computer screen, checking in with your i-phone or thinking about work. The answer - no, you don’t need to meditate but, if you can, it is good for your soul.
4. How do I find a good Yoga teacher?
Personal recommendations are always good, there are a lot of yoga teachers practising in the area so it is worth trying a few and finding one that you like.
Organisations such as the British Wheel of Yoga, Yoga Alliance UK and the independent Yoga Network will also be able to point you in the right direction.
And if you are still wondering if Yoga is for you, here is a reminder of the benefits:
• Increased flexibility.
• Increased muscle strength and tone.
• Improved respiration, energy and vitality.
• Maintaining a balanced metabolism.
• Weight reduction.
• Cardio and circulatory health.
• Improved athletic performance.
• Protection from injury.