I took up yoga as an alternative to the more demanding aerobic exercises and long distance runs that I used to undertake. The latter have put a train on my body and led my GP to advise me to take a break from exercise for a while. From the first moment I started yoga, I fell in love with the practice and even ended up asking myself “Why haven’t I taken this up earlier?”.
I can’t think of any other body exercise that brings together mental balance, body flow and peacefulness, whilst strengthening the core and making you fit. What’s more, it relaxes you at the same time and gives you the chance to meditate. Unlike other forms of physical exercise whereby I experience the sense of happiness mainly after completing them, yoga provides me with the sense of gratification throughout the entire practice and long after.
My body has now got so used to the yoga moves that whenever I am doing chores around the house, I feel like overstretching or bending more than I need to, in order to reach or pick something up. Getting to the point where my body craves the yoga moves outside of the practice and seeks to find them in the routine of everyday moves signals me that I have led my body to embrace the practice fully.
In literal terms, yoga means union, as it is meant to unite your body, mind and soul through deep breathing and meditation. I just love how this movement of the body enables me to clear my mind, induces me into a state of reflection and mental well-being.
I expressed previously my affinity for nature. Yoga is the only type of physical exercise whose movements are embedded in the act of reconnecting with nature. As a testament to this, some types of yoga or movements within the practice are actually named after natural phenomena. For example, one of the most popular types of yoga is hatha yoga, which means sun (“ha”) and moon (“tha”).
Like many forms of exercise, yoga can be addictive and the more you do it, the more you want to do it. Therefore, it is important to gain access to a plenty of yoga practice material in order not to run out of supply. My favourite yoga training programme is Yoga with Adrienne – you can find plenty of videos on Youtube free of charge. Adrienne seems to have a natural gift for conveying love, peace and positivity through every video that she creates. These come from her joviality and graceful moves which convey the sense of calm within her, as well as her use of words. She starts every practice with “Hello, my friends” and ends it with “Thank you for sharing your practice with me today”. I always feel like saying “No, thank You!”. Listening to her and practicing alongside her is like transposing yourself into an oasis of serenity.
Anyone wishing to lead a healthy lifestyle should take up yoga. This is due to the fact that the main purpose of this practice is to arrive at a perfect physical and mental state, happiness and peacefulness.
If you are used to vigorous cardio exercise, you may find the peaceful yoga somehow boring at the beginning. To counteract this, I recommend carrying out your practice on the sounds of soothing background music and creating a mystical atmosphere by lighting a few candles in the room where you practice. Also, you need to acknowledge that the nature of the practice is quite different from the more intense cardio activity. Yoga works your body out by engaging your muscles, as well as inducing your mind into a state of contemplation. However, if you want to feel that your body is working out harder while practicing yoga, you may want to try combining it with more intense forms of physical activity, such as yoga and ballet or Phiit (a combination of Pilates and high intensity interval training).
To get the most benefits of yoga, try practicing it after a cardio workout. The time when I most enjoy my yoga session is just after my runs, when I give my body the luxury of a complete stretch.
Yoga will make you move more mindfully, as you will grow to become more aware of how your body stretches and bends in the course of everyday activities. Mindful movement is a moment-by-moment awareness of what your body’s doing. The more mindfully you move, the more you will want to experience the sensation of prolonged movement and conscious breathing. This will make you feel like an accomplished yogi.