Yoga – Stretch, breath & tone?!

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Yoga has been practiced for over 5000 years, originating in India Yoga was first mentioned in the old sacred texts, cleverly scribed by Vedic priests.

There are hundreds of different types of Yoga, but western Yoga is usually taught from one of 14 types, of the 14 Bikram & Hatha styles of teaching are the most common. Bikram yoga is traditionally practised in a heated room, or ‘hot yoga’ as its also known and it follows a basic routine of 26 moves, each performed twice. Hatha is a mix of Bikram and Ashtanga adapted to modern day class teaching. Hatha usually concentrates on breathing, exercise and postures and can be more physically demanding due to its modern blend of two styles.

I am a self taught Yoga kind of girl. I have tried classes and to be honest the deep breathing and ‘odd’ poses are something I would rather practise by myself in my own home. Over the years I have attended many different classes, studied books, the internet and various different apps – I am pretty sure I am now a pretty capable Yoga bod!

For me Yoga goes hand in hand with meditation & mindfulness, even if you are bored of the whole ‘deep breathing’ trend, Yoga does have a habit of calming your mind, usually because you are preoccupied with ‘how an earth can I reach my head round to my feet’ but either way Yoga can have a positive effect on mind health & your body.

I have found Yoga to ease certain ailments too – A few simple stretches and poses can ease the worst heartburn, trapped wind, headaches & it can increase energy levels – no really for you sceptics out there its true! The deep stretching keeps muscles supple and eventually over time toned, the deep breathing fills our lungs with oxygen – slowing our heart rates and forcing us to relax. Did you know stretching alone can make you feel more energised, as you stretch blood rushes around improving circulation, therefore giving us a sense of wellbeing and energy. Better than reaching for that afternoon coffee!!

Yoga can also be practised anywhere, I take my Yoga mat with us whatever house sitting assignment we are off too, failing that a towel can do the job just as well. There is no mass investment in Yoga, a mat is pretty much all you need. Feel free to buy all the latest yoga kit, socks & ‘zen’ music but its not necessary.

Attending a class first obviously gives you the insight and knowledge of a teacher, but once you have mastered the basics there is no reason you cannot begin to practise at home. Yoga poses are to be eased into slowly and gently, stretching as much as you feel able ‘without pain’ and eased back out of when you have finished, deep breathing with each movement. I used to get so stressed in classes worrying about when I should be breathing and for how long, but its all about listening to your body and doing what feels good for you.

For you lovely Yogi’s (awesome Star Wars word) I have put together a few Yoga poses from a range of moves I practice every evening everyday no matter where in the world I am. The movements are gentle and easy and should be held for at least 30 seconds, or longer if you have the time! Take in deep breaths with every movement and remember just keep breathing. After watching a recent TEDTALK on trying something new for 30 days, how about giving a few Yoga poses a try?! Five – ten minutes a day can make a world of difference to feeling calmer and more energised and eventually a little toned too.

Gently ease into each movement in the sequence below, take your time, breath deeply and enjoy! See how much you improve over a couple of weeks. If any poses hurt or are uncomfortable, then obviously stop and try again another day.

Yoga is not just for girls!

Namaste!

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