After more than two years of turbulence and tumult, we are are reportedly (and not in the least bit surprisingly) more under pressure than they’ve ever been, with inflation, war and COVID pushing stress to alarming levels.
These unprecedented times have caused Brits to seek relief in places that they may have previously left unexplored, with many dipping their toes into the world of cold water swimming, meditation and yoga, in particular.
Today, we’re exploring the latter in a little more detail. And this just in; you don’t have to be able to twist into pretzel shapes and contort your body something holy to enjoy the physical or mental benefits of a good yoga session. Yep, even if you don’t know your downward dog from your happy baby, a world of stress relief, mindful focus and surprisingly effective exercise awaits.
For those woke to its benefits, the age old discipline’s magic touch has been obvious for some time, but it seems like the mainstream has finally caught on, too. And in a world of stress, pressure and panic, not a moment too soon, we think.
We’re here today for those hungry to embrace a holistic attitude to their health and wellbeing, with these; our 6 IDEAL tips for yoga beginners on how to get started.
Get The Right Gear
Yoga is a discipline with inclusivity at its core. Everyone is welcome, all levels of ability embraced, and a lack of financial certainly represents no hindrance to participation. The fantastic thing about starting out with yoga is that the commitment – both in terms of time and money – is minimal. All you need is loose clothing, which you’ll probably already have lying around, and a little willpower to get the ball rolling.
The only other thing we recommend purchasing is a non-slip yoga mat, for safety reasons. After that, you’re good to go. Now it’s up to you whether you take up the practice in the comfort of your own home, or join a class….
Yoga Class Or YouTube?
While it’s hard to beat the experienced guidance and encouragement of a qualified teacher in a dedicated space, many prefer to begin their yoga journey using YouTube, which is a fantastic way to get started, and it’s free, too.
Online you’ll find everything from energising morning routines to a session for desk related mid-day relief, a relaxing evening number, or even guided practices to help you with your sleep. Some of the best YouTube yogis include Yoga with Adrienne, Yoga with Kassandra, and Tara Stiles, but this is really a case of having a look around and finding what suits you!
Whilst YouTube is undeniably useful, particularly for those with a fear of falling over or farting during an extended warrior pose, in the long run home practitioners shouldn’t miss out on the fantastic sense of community that yoga classes offer, an endlessly supportive and encouraging space where friends are made for life on parallel mats.
Find Encouragement In Community On A Yoga Retreat
We’d wager that, by now, the majority of Brits have tried their hand at yoga at one time or another. Many have found it to be incredibly useful for remedying aches and pains, reducing stress, and toning muscles, too.
That said, we’d also wager that yoga tends to have a pretty low retention rate. It can be hard to stay committed to daily practice when you’ve been through Adrienne’s 10 Minute Yoga For Beginners a good hundred times. Even traditional classes are struggling to keep people interested, with the Yogi Times reporting an annual retention rate of just 18% for teacher-led sessions.
Instead, you may well find encouragement to stick at it within the yoga community, not only via the classes we mentioned earlier, but also at workshops, meet-ups and, for those looking to truly immerse themselves in the practice and community, at yoga retreats.
Indeed, then there are some incredible yoga retreats here in the UK and abroad, allowing you to develop your stretches and poses, as well as experience yoga in a more holistic way, via meditation sessions, healthy eating classes, and more.
Many of the best retreats on these shores are held in truly inspiring, breathtaking places, such as Dartmoor in Devon, the Peak District, Cornwall, and the Brecon Beacons in Wales. Just imagine opening your eyes following savasana to those views.
Most yoga retreats cater to all levels, even beginners, and teachers will listen to individual needs. When it comes to choosing the right yoga retreat for you, think about what you want to do and get out of it; some yoga retreats are purely vegan, others have a complete ban on booze, and some combine yoga with other activities like hiking.
Know Your Limitations
Few people want to label themselves beginners, even if they are just that; there’s a certain stigma that the term carries which we’d all like to avoid. But yoga is an activity which you very much want to take in your stride, slowly and steadily, because though it may be surrounded by a warm glow of positive energy, it can actually be rather dangerous when done incorrectly.
Yep, with more and more people downward dogging than ever, yoga related injuries are unfortunately on the rise. So, treat the practice with respect. As you’re so often implored during a session, ‘listen to your body’. Be aware of the most common yoga injuries to help you do things by the book; dive in too deep, too early, and risk it being your last good stretch for a while.
Embrace The Mental Benefits
Though yoga may primarily feel like a physical workout, those entering the discipline often cite the benefits to their mind as the reason they stuck with it. Yep, this isn’t just some wooly, hippy nonsense about ‘love and light’; there’s some serious, scientifically backed stuff going on here. In a world where distractions and deadlines increasingly define our everyday, the ability to unwind and untangle in a holistic and healthy fashion is invaluable to devotees.
Countless studies have shown that being present and aware in our everyday tasks (a concept rooted in mindfulness practice and yoga) leads to better mental health and a more positive outlook on life. Harness this positive outlook in the early stages of your yoga journey, and you’ll find it an incredibly rewarding experience. For those who excel, the spiritual side is just as important as the physical.
The Most Important Pose
It’s often said that ‘savasana’ – the final pose of your practice in which you lie flat and still – is the most important part of any yoga session. But it’s also a pose which many feel superfluous and want to rush through. Big mistake.
A successful yoga session is all about setting your intentions for (or drawing a line under) the day, reconnecting with your body and the earth, and finding a little inner peace. The savasana represents the concluding paragraph of your session and should be treated with patience and respect. Without it, yoga would simply be a series of stretches; its true potency comes from those final few moments of peace.