By Sophie Crabtree

Like many, I had misconceptions about yoga that turned my nose up at my mother’s suggestion that I join her in a yoga class for years.

AllOver images / Alamy Stock Photo

As lockdown restrictions allowed public spaces to reopen, I had a new sense of determination to find exercise I didn’t hate and was distracted within weeks.

I already had a holistic approach to exercise, given that whenever I have a busy brain or feel lazy, I walk around, but I needed something to move my whole body and give the same relief.

Things I tried before I fell for yoga

· Swimming – walking barefoot where other people’s feet have been? No thanks.

Running – I thought it would be like a walk but even on an empty stomach it found stuff to stir up and makes me sick

Pilates – despite being yoga’s cousin they are quite distantly related in that it was too strenuous around my core for my pelvic pain to handle

Use a balance board – as someone with dyspraxia I have poor balance… and no patience

Jumping – trying to coordinate my whole body and timing myself to jump over a rope is more likely to make me cry than sweat (you should have seen me in the sack race in elementary school…)

The trend in these activities was that as much as I was able to persevere and see physical effects, mentally they were exhausting. I have anxiety which can often lead to a bad mood; I’m generally more about the endorphins I get from the movement than the outside gains.

Unfortunately, society sells exercise to shape you into a particular, gendered shape – instead of feeling proud that you moved your body with purpose and compassion. When in fact the only way for most of us to reach these numbers would be to undertake surgical measures.

Challenge my misconceptions

When I finally joined my mother in my first Hatha and Yin yoga practice, my social anxiety was at an all-time high. New people, a new place, and please, God, don’t let me be in the foreground where everyone can see me messing up the routine were fears I had.

Hats off to our teacher, she had created a safe and serene space, and there were still two seats left in the back!

This is for the Greek god among us

When I thought of the average yoga practitioner, I imagined a slim, elegant woman leading other slim, elegant women and the strange Greek god-like man.

I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of ages and physical abilities in the group. The number of modifications that our yoga teacher advises for people to achieve different levels of the same yogic poses means that it is widely accessible.

The teacher will criticize my athleticism (or lack thereof)

As you notice almost immediately, this practice is all about extending compassion and self-acceptance, and your teacher follows suit.

They take a careful, watchful eye over their students to make sure they’re not potentially doing more harm than good, and to make sure no one feels pressured to overdo themselves when a modification achieves the same results. another way.

Humility is the tone of the session, and any joint cracks or wobbles are greeted with gentle humor.

It’s a hippy-dippy thing

Music, chanting, and meditations factor into the holistic approach to health here; it’s not all smoke and mirrors. I leave class feeling more grounded and connected to the earth than at any other point in a normal day (unless I’ve had the pleasure of standing by the sea or climbing a hillside ).

Yoga is unique in allowing yogis to notice, learn, and take care of their mind, spirit, and physical body.

Often as part of the meditation at the start of a class there is a body scan to check from the tips of your little toes to the crown of your head and every muscle and joint in between; this routine is strange at first, but with regular attention you can notice how your body changes and identify where something may feel more specific to you.

Checking in with the mind essentially quantifies how much energy you have. Likewise, with the mind, noticing but not judging the thoughts that arise is a long-time learning.

With a clearer mind, the physical poses begin. The awareness you have created throughout your being increases the energy levels of every element – mind, spirit and body – and with this the physical exercise begins, allowing you to stretch and work muscles. that you may not even realize.

Choose to engage

Yoga reinforces the need to allow even a short amount of time to move your body mindfully. Feeling less sluggish on the inside and more energized on the outside is a happy byproduct of a more grateful view of the vessel that is my body.

I’m sure this shift in perspective would benefit a lot of people, and the accessibility of yoga makes it perfect.

It can be difficult to engage in regular physical activity, especially if you’re busy juggling a career, partner, family, etc. Still, it’s worth following the right yoga group for you if you want to be more present in these segments of your life. life.

You can learn more about the many variations of yoga and which one will best suit your needs. HERE.