So what’s the big deal about Yoga anyway?
Chances are at least one of your friends is a committed yogi. I actually don’t really know what the term ‘yogi’ means, it still reminds me of a bear from Jellystone National Park, but I do know that yoga, which has been practised all over the world forever, has experienced a dramatic increase in practitioners (almost 20%) in the last half a dozen years. Yoga is very broadly a system of philosophies, principles and practices derived from the Vedic tradition of India and the Himalayas, more than 2500 years ago. Since then it has evolved to what we recognise today as Yoga, which is a cultivation of health and well-being through the regular practice of a range of different techniques, including postures and movement, breath awareness, relaxation and meditation. The most widely practised form of yoga today is an integration of several yoga practices, primarily body movement, traditionally known as postures or asanas. These postures, when practised correctly can help with strengthening and stretching the muscles, balance, core stability and a sense of mindfulness and well-being.
Should we all be doing yoga?
We should probably all be doing lots of things. I should probably do Pilates to work on engaging my core, I should go jogging to increase my aerobic fitness level, eat more vegetables – the list could go on forever and I’m only talking about physical health! Mostly I just lift heavy weights and sometimes I lift lighter weights faster to pretend I’m doing cardio…but I do practise yoga occasionally and I really feel that I benefit from a dedicated stretching session. I know the last thing a lot of people want to do at the end of a workout is hang around in the gym for 10 minutes stretching, because chances are you have other things to do, so it really might be beneficial to set a bit of time aside to work on increasing your flexibility. I have weak ankles as well and the balancing poses are really helpful for working on them.
Is Yoga really helpful for releasing stress?
This is a question you really might have to answer for yourself. I find beer quite good for releasing stress and if I’m really angry punching things works really well too, by things I mean boxing mits and bags. Yoga…not so much, I almost need to be relaxed to really get into it. My advice would be to give it a go and see if it does work for you and if yoga doesn’t work, try something else. I felt pretty stressed before I lifted weights today and I felt so much better afterwards. (And there I go again not trying to peer pressure you into lifting heavy weights or anything….)
It might actually really annoy you…
There are many different types of yoga, Hatha, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bikram (I tried it once and it really was so hot) and some of them have achieved an almost cult-like following. The yoga practised in gyms is probably not as strict as some of the yoga schools and if that’s a concern for you it might make it easier to swallow. Generally it involves more stretching and less chanting. There’s often a heavy breather or a super-bendy lady in a yoga class so you might have to get past them and there’s probably someone who’s there just because they have the hots for the teacher. But just walk past all of them, find yourself a fairly inconspicuous spot and do your best.
So should you do yoga?
At the end of the day stretching is good for you. Taking a bit of time for yourself is good for you. Saying words like Namaste makes you sound kind of cultural. It’s a great excuse to get into some multi-coloured tights and spread your toes out of narrow shoes. I like to do yoga sometimes and I’d recommend you give it a try, in fact I’d recommend you give it three tries before you make a decision for yourself.
Hiscoes has yoga at 9.30am Tuesdays, 5.30pm on Wednesdays and 4.00pm on Sundays. I try and do a class at least once a fortnight.