Gymbox yoga instructor Hannah Jackson believes yoga is for everyone. Here she talks us through what is out there for both newbies and regulars. "There is a yoga practice for everyone, whether you want to find peace of mind, increase flexibility, rehabilitate an injury or get seriously sweaty".
Let's talk about yoga… yoga has exploded in recent years with an influx of long, lean, bronzed goddesses doing impossible looking postures which require the strength and flexibility that most of us can barely fathom, and I’m saying that as a qualified yoga teacher!
There is no doubt that yoga is an excellent way to strengthen your muscles and increase your flexibility, but it doesn’t have to be handstands and full lotus in order to get the most out of it.
There is a yoga practice for everyone, whether you want to find peace of mind, increase flexibility, rehabilitate an injury or get seriously sweaty. The key, perhaps is learn which type of class to head to:
- Hatha is a perfect introduction to the key postures (and some more complex Asanas depending on your teacher), holding postures for around 30 seconds. It is both strengthening and allows your muscles to release into the deeper stretches. Expect to leave feeling well worked, energised yet grounded.
- Vinyasa Flow tends to be a mid-fast paced class, flowing from posture to posture with the vinyasa itself which is used to move between sequences and sides. This is where you will find lots of downward dogs, chatturungas (think of it as a modified tricep press-up) and arm balances.
- Ashtanga / Rocket are fast-paced, more athletic styles. Postures are held for 3-5 breaths, and you will definitely get a sweat on! This is a fantastic way to strengthen your muscles as well as your cardio vascular system.
- Yin is at the other extreme of the spectrum, holding poses for a minimum of 2 minutes, usually hovering around the 4-5 minute mark (though it can be as long as 20!) which focuses on strengthening the ligaments and tendons and releasing the fascia. It’s also a more meditative practise, helping to train the mind to maintain focus.
- Budokon Combines Martial Arts and Yoga for a unique practice and methodology. Using lots of animal movements you’ll get a full body burn.
- Aerial Yoga Is perfect for anyone who loves embracing their inner child! You’ll get an excellent core and upper body workout. Have a try at getting upside down while also using the hammocks to be able to get deeper into certain stretches and poses.
- Buti combines yoga, plyometrics and tribal dance with a soundtrack of current hits. You’ll get a complete workout but with the added focus some of the yogic principles, and benefits including manifesting goals and encouraging self love and awareness.
- Surfset Yoga is yoga on a surfboard. Inside! This is surprisingly challenging for the core and stabilising muscles, it’s perfect if you're looking to strengthen around certain joints and increase stability, and this will reduce the risk of injury in your daily routine.
One thing I make sure to say to anyone who is new to yoga is to realise that some things will feel great, and others (to begin with especially) will feel very awkward. It’s the same for everyone – even the ‘pro’ next to you who’s tying themselves in knots, will have postures that present a real challenge to them.
You will be moving your body in ways that you haven’t moved since childhood – balancing, twisting, stretching, folding. It’s a huge change from our standard daily linear movements of walking, running, cycling, sitting. Your spine in particular will really benefit from the range of movements. Did you know that due to our increasingly sedentary lifestyles; low back pain is now the single biggest cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010.
As someone who was introduced to yoga to help to rehabilitate a serious back problem – for around four months I was barely able to move due to the pain – I can tell you that it might not be easy, it might not even be enjoyable to start with. But you have my word that if you stick with it, your body will start to surprise you with the things it is capable of, and you might just find some of that elusive peace of mind and balance that can seem so unobtainable in todays hectic lifestyle. So go on, give it a try. I dare you!
For info on our full yoga classes, click here.