I had done some yoga before. I went to a yoga class years ago and was one of many women who were all desperately trying to look graceful in a large sports hall, all praying for the words “now it’s time for the relaxation”. I had found it quite an impersonal experience, so like many others who try something for the first time, I soon faded away from yoga.
So there I was many years later, having walked along side my mum and been with her through her two year battle with illness until she passed away. I needed something for me, but what? I wanted it to be mental as well as physical, something to ease my mind as well as help my body, something that might help me be able to avoid the same illness that had so cruelly robbed me of my mum.
One day a leaflet came through my door detailing all the events that were happening at my local community centre and there it was, a new yoga class around the corner from me, like a little divine nudge to get myself going, and so I signed up and went to the first class that was being run by a brand new yoga teacher.
Three years on I am no expert, but like anything new that you learn, you have to persevere and give it time. I am not naturally flexible, my balance is pretty awful and I have had many ups and downs on my yoga journey, but it has definitely become easier and my flexibility has certainly improved. Am I great at all the poses? Absolutely not. Do I find some poses easier than others? Yes, but I have been blessed to find a wonderful teacher who helps us to accept the way we are, work with our own body and have fun along the way.
Being in Sabina’s class from the beginning has given me a fantastic grounding in my yoga and I cannot impress enough on you how important it is to find a wonderful class and teacher that will keep you enthusiastic even when the going gets tough.
Doing exercise is not just great for your body, studies have found that mental health is also positively affected by doing some form of exercise too.
Yoga has so many health benefits, these include:
Improving your posture and flexibility – the postures encourage you to stand and move in certain way making you aware of how you stand and helping you to hold poses for longer which increases your flexibility.
Lowers blood sugar and cholesterol – yoga can help reduce your stress levels, it can also lead to a slight weight loss which can help lower your chest oral and blood sugars.
Helps with weight loss in conjunction with a healthy diet – like all exercise yoga has to be done regularly and in tandem with a healthy diet to help with weight loss.
Improves your breathing – the breathing exercises in yoga help you to control your breathing and to use more of your lung capacity,
Improves your circulation – the poses in yoga, especially the inverted poses where your head is below your heart can help to improve your circulation.
Increases your energy – at the end of a yoga session, rather than feel tired, many feel energised. I love to do yoga in the morning to get me ready for the day.
Helps with mental sharpness and increases your sense of well being – yoga is amazing for your well being. Whether it is just the fact that you have exercised or that you have made an effort to do something for yourself, yoga can calm your mind and help you switch off from the world for just a little while.
There is no denying that all exercise is great for you but ultimately I took up yoga not just for the health benefits but for something more, for something that was just for me, a chance to be still, to put the stresses and strain to the side for just a few moments. To learn how to breath, to be still, to move with purpose and then to relax. Now when I hear the words “its time for the deep relaxation” my thoughts are not gratitude that it’s over, but wonder at how quick it has gone.
Read more of Janets stories on her personal blog.