Yoga offers many benefits to the body. On a purely physical level, it protects bone health and helps to build muscle mass. Despite having matured over the centuries from religious roots, many people today use Yoga for the end result of fitness. At One for All we aim to encourage and support a healthy approach to Yoga regardless of one’s intentions for practising, and with current social distancing measures, many people are finding they have a lot more time with nowhere to go and are asking themselves: is now a good time to start Yoga?
It may seem intimidating at first, but Yoga is a great way to exercise the body even if you are a complete beginner! One of the simplest of reasons to practise is because it challenges you, giving you the opportunity to push your body past the limits it once knew and believed. One thing that Yoga will always teach you is to embrace who you are and to challenge any self imposed expectations. At One for All we frequently invite our students to set an intention at the start of each class. An intention can be as simple as relaxing into this space, to releasing a little further into a forward bend or holding a challenging balance a little longer. Regardless of whether or not you can touch your toes, all that matters when you fall short of what you hope to achieve, is that you re-centre yourself, shrug off any self-judgement or criticism and get on with working towards your goal.
For many beginners, choosing a class can be confusing as you face the dilemma of which style to go for. Ashtanga, Iyengar and Sivananda are some examples of Yoga styles that have been around for decades, but does that make them ‘proper’ Yoga? Actually, no style is necessarily better or more authentic than any other! They each just have a different area of emphasis and will teach similar poses in slightly different ways, and through the evolution of modern teaching methods many postures are available to practise well rather than just straining through discomfort. Most styles of Yoga will meet health guidelines for strength and flexibility but lack in the area of cardiovascular or aerobic exercise. When practising a ‘Flow’ class however, the postures are built into and around the Sun Salutation warm-up sequence so a more dynamic practice such as this will hopefully get your heart rate up a little.
So what about these online classes that we’re now having to do? Well, while having the observation and encouragement of a real life teacher is always the best way to learn, you can still learn a lot about the poses and the techniques through our online classes.
Without having other students to follow, keeping up with the sequence can be even more challenging, but our teachers are now demonstrating the whole of each class so you can always look up to the screen during your practice to see where we’re at. In addition to practising with you, we are doing our utmost to give adequate verbal instructions that are simple to follow. The online timetable also includes some slower-paced Yin and Restorative classes which you can attend before throwing yourself into a Flow class, if you wish. Our advice for beginners is to take your time with your poses and understand your limitations in order to set yourself up for a healthier, lighter, more flexible, energetic, and relaxed practice going forward!
Remember all Yoga teachers and students all over the world were beginners at some point in their lives. What brought them to where they are now is the fact that they didn’t give up. However, that’s not to say they didn’t stop-start for a while before sticking to it! So if you’re not actually a beginner but you’re not yet consistent in your practice, just focus on getting back on track and creating a habit that will hopefully last. What’s more, don’t expect perfection in your practice, but look for enjoyment and potential for growth.
Your first Yoga class is never going to be easy. Becoming adept at Yoga requires both an intellectual and an experiential understanding of your body and mind which can only be developed with time and practise. But in addition to increased strength and flexibility, a regular Yoga workout will help to calm the nervous system, encourage excess weight loss, and provide you with a means to understand more about the physical body that you inhabit.
So whether you manage one class a week or you become a daily devotee, finding a connection between body, mind and breath is going to set you up for an amazing practice and an amazing day.