I was 19 when I first came across yoga. At this young, energetic age, it was the 90’s I would often spend my time in more intense gym and cardio classes – if I wasn’t jumping up and down working up a sweat, I didn’t feel like I was working out! I admit that at first, I found the slower pace so maddening and didn’t return for many years. I had totally missed the point! if you had told me then I would be doing my yoga teacher training in 20 years time I would have thought you were mad.
Faced with the considerable demands of juggling work, trying to build a career as a single mum of 3 children eight years later, I attended a class in central London. I Suddenly got it, it was a like a light bulb had been switched on! I left feeling calm and uplifted for the first time in ages. I spent the next 6 years enjoying visiting many studios, experiencing different teachers, styles and methods of yoga. in 2017 I completed my 200hr teacher training, not to change career but for personal growth. While I may not get to a yoga class every week, I do self practice at home I try to take 15-minutes most day to practice some sun salutations, key poses or meditation and breathing techniques. I will never be an acro-fit yogi, handstands will never be in my practice along with many of the more advanced postures, I accept my body is now middle aged not in its 20’s (in my head I am still there though!) And I still fall in and out of love with yoga but I do crave a good class.
I know from personal experience that yoga is beneficial for both the mind and the body in a number of ways:
Yoga is all about using your natural body weight to build strength without developing bulky muscles. It works to create the long, lean muscle we women crave – as well as increasing stamina and improving posture.
Man was not made to lead a sedentary lifestyle, yet many of us spend each day sitting at a computer. Yoga encourages us to enhance our natural joint movement and flexibility, keeping us supple as we age. Many athletes incorporate yoga into their training regimen, and it can be a great way to prevent arthritis. So it really is good for everybody.
The movements of yoga increase blood flow through muscles and tissues, delivering a fresh supply of oxygen and nutrients to cells and keeping organs – including the skin – healthy.
The relaxation and breathing techniques of a yogic practice send a calming message to the immune and nervous systems. The rhythmic, flowing movements also enhance the flow of the lymphatic system – the body’s defence mechanism that keeps our internal fluids in balance and aids our natural detoxification process.
During a yoga practice, there’s so much to focus on in terms of your breath, posture, and position you’re trying to hold, that there’s little time for your thoughts to fret about your regular worries. It’s amazing how much clearer your mind feels when you emerge – as if you’ve re-booted your brain!
Breathing is fundamental to life – it’s the first and last thing we do. Yet many of us take short, shallow breaths from our chest – rather than long, deep ones from our stomach. The result is a reduced supply of oxygen and nutrients being delivered to the organs, which compromises the body’s overall health. Shallow breathing also makes us more susceptible to panic attacks.
Pranayama is a yogic breathing technique that encourages deep, slow, rhythmic breathing, which calms the mind and body – and nourishes the skin.
When we get stressed, the glands of the endocrine system secrete the hormone cortisol into the body. Yoga has a calming, rejuvenating effect on these glands, reducing stress and the damaging effects it has on the skin.
It may not have occurred to you that yoga could be a vital element of effective skincare. Yet its positive impact on the mind and body carry added benefits for our complexions.
Amongst so many benefits its also a life skill, you can throw down your mat anywhere and do some yoga shapes, its something you can do on your own or part of a community, something the world is missing right now.