Why yoga is your new best friend

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Yoga is no longer just about stretching on a mat, it’s a lifestyle that’s dominated by a huge portion of the fitness industry, writes Ellie McInerney. These days, the variety of yoga-esq fitness trends on offer almost resembles the menu at Starbucks – with so many hybrids it’s difficult to narrow a yoga style down to the ‘classic’.

When all you want to do is ‘original yoga’ then go grab a ‘boring latte’, it can feel like your only option is ‘yoga-laties trapeze aerial hip-hop’ followed by a double strength caramel frappe chino with extra ice and a side of toasted coconut. Now of course, a high calorie Starbucks isn’t the best choice after a yoga session, but sometimes you really just need one.

Yoga options

Some of the options of yoga available include Bikrim, Hatha, Yoga-laties (a cross between Pilates and Yoga) Vinyasa, Kundalini and Ashtanga just to name a few. The good thing about all of these styles is that the foundational benefits of the yoga practise remain the same.

Yoga benefits

If you decide to jump on board the yoga train, some of the improvements in your health can include: development of strength, flexibility and core stabilisation, improvement of joint mobility, release of muscle tension or stiffness (which can leave you feeling weightless and relaxed), release of toxins within the body from holding poses, stretching and tightening or releasing muscles, and prevention of conditions like osteoporosis, heart disease and insomnia.

Another major benefit to yoga is the positive impact it has on the central nervous system and stress levels. Deep breathing and concentration on the breath during yoga sessions helps your mind focus on one thing, and practising this regularly will help in reducing stress levels and anxiety.

Another major benefit to a regular yoga practice is the meditation component which is often included at the end of a session. Just 10 minutes of meditation a day can dramatically reduce stress and anxiety levels and leave you feeling calm, clear headed and with more ‘brain space’ to focus on the important things (like what you’re going to order at Starbucks).

Getting back to basics

Dani Schmutz is the owner of FitYoga, a company that is taking classic, simple yoga to the streets and teaching wannabe yogis how to live their fullest, healthiest and happiest lives. I spoke with Dani about why she thinks yoga is so powerful.

“The FitYoga sessions help with improvement of individual health and wellness, physically, emotionally and mentally through an interactive approach which can be delivered in a class or one on one. FitYoga’s flow is a total body workout for anyone wanting to sculpt their body and create a new attitude,” she said.

So what if you’ve never stepped foot on a yoga mat? Do you need experience to try a yoga class? Dani says no way! “I often hear people say “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga” or “I can’t do those poses, or handstands” but FitYoga’s approach is beyond the postures. It’s about reuniting the body and mind and connecting to your true self.

“On a daily basis, we are often busy, always in our heads, letting our monkey mind chatter rule our emotions and causing inner turmoil to build, or we are on auto-pilot, fight or flight mode and often can’t find the time to just stop and reflect.

“That’s why it’s so important to take time to yourself, to take a time out and do something for you!Since the first class is always a bit daunting, it’s good to know once you’ve attended a few classes and your mind and body are starting to feel connected again, things actually get a little easier.

When the body and mind are supporting each other in a harmonious flow, the physical postures begin to follow with ease.”

Give it a go

If your local gym or yoga studio is offering yoga classes but you’re not sure which one to do, give them a call and find out what each class entails. Alternatively, take the dive into any class and see how you go. It may take a while to find a style that suits you, but once you do it’s worth it! So grab your stretchy active-wear and get ready to stretch away the stress.

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