Let me reassure you - not all yoga is a hot, sweaty, aerobic, pretzel mess!
I’m not flexible. I’m not a gymnast. I couldn’t possible be seen out in skin tight leggings. Yes, yes - probably things you’ve overheard, thought, or may be even muttered to yourself!
The good news is that you don’t need to be - or have - any of those things to ‘do’ Yoga. Trust me on this one. My mantra is, after all, Yoga is for everyone and every body!
You might have read my post What does Yoga actually mean? It's probably not what you think! . If not, feel free to pop over there and have a quick look - otherwise let me summarise: Yoga has its origins in breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation (dhyana) and these were described in the ancient Yogic texts as ‘seated’ practices. That’s right, on your butt; an otherwise highly accessible and physically undemanding posture that is available to the overwhelming majority of the global population.
So what does this mean for all of us yet-to-be-converted-yoginis?
It means that you, beauty - so long as you are breathing, conscious and have the will - can, and are equipt to ‘do’ Yoga.
So where to begin? Start basic and accessible. Take a beginners class. And do your research!
Find out what style of yoga is taught at the studio, and who the teachers are. Are they well trained and experienced, or have just jumped off the plane from a 21 day teacher training in Goa after falling in love with Yoga in Semester 1 of Uni or College?
To find your beginners program or even when taking your first class after a beginners program, it’s still critical to take a Goldilocks and the Three Bears approach.
Quick Goldilocks recap: The three bears in this children’s story have bowls of hot cereal called 'porridge' for breakfast. A little girl named Goldilocks stumbles upon their home while they are out and comes to try all three bowls of porridge (among other things!) until she finds temperature that is ’just right’.
It’s fine not to take such a considered approach to Yoga, however you run the risk of becoming easily disenchanted or frustrated as to why you are not ‘loving’ Yoga like everyone said you would.
The magic ‘just right’ recipe requires a balance of the yoga style, teacher approach, and studio ethos. Essential what feels good for you!
Here is a little ‘temperature’ checklist to help you find a bowl of Yoga porridge that is JUST RIGHT...
You might enjoy a ‘cool’ bowl if you:
- Are returning to physical activity, or require a gentle approach due to mobility or health challenges
- Have a highly active day job (ie. manual labour, stand on your feet, chasing children)
- Are already committed to intensive, energetic sporting or lifestyle practices
Types of Yoga to explore:Yin; Restorative; Yoga Nidra; Hatha; Iyengar.
You might enjoy a ‘hot’ bowl if you:
- Are healthy, fairly mobile, and/or have the ability to explore physical challenges
- Have a fairly sedentary day job (ie. office work, mostly seated, in the same position for long periods)
- Are already committed to sporting or lifestyle practices, but could add some dynamic or more intensive activity
Types of Yoga to explore: Vinyasa/ Power; Ashtanga; Flow; any ‘Hot’ style classes.
What about a WARM bowl?
There are teachers out there, like myself, that don’t strictly fit into one style of Yoga, but instead borrow a little from the cool and a little from the hot bowls. For instance they may offer a half/half practice with gentle Vinyasa followed by some Yin Yoga.
Again, use the porridge metaphor as a guide, and remember that you are the Goldilocks in this story, so only you will know which combination is JUST RIGHT.
If you're in Edinburgh and would like to explore a yoga practice in an inclusive, accessible and intimate community I invite you to join my 6 Week Beginners Course or come along to my Yoga for Mind:Body Bliss all levels classes.
Have you found a practice that is just right for you? I'd love to hear about it!