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Find Your Yoga Bliss

Author: Miranda Eason

When I say that I’m into yoga reactions vary from, “It’s not for me, I can’t even touch my toes.” Neither could I when I first started. To, “Yeah, but it’s not much of a workout, is it?” Hmm, let’s talk at the end of a Yoga Burn Challenge class with the heat cranked up. Or, “All that hippie-chanting-knit-your-own-granola nonsense, no way.” Things have moved on, my teachers wear technical form-fitting kit and classes are soundtracked by remixes of the likes of Chvrches, London Grammar and The xx. There might still be chanting. But you don’t have to join in. And, “Women in yoga pants, where do I sign up?” Not really the point, but whatever gets you on the mat, I guess.

Yoga, which in Sanskrit translates to yoke or union, has been around for thousands of years but it’s only over the last 100 years or so that yoga has become what we think of today, a workout that unifies your mind, body and spirit. I’m a full-on yoga addict, rolling out my mat at my favourite studio Stretch anywhere between three and five times a week but it hasn’t always been that way.

The first time I tried yoga was at a popular studio in Soho. The class was billed as being for all levels, so I assumed it would be suitable for a beginner. Wrong! The teacher glared at me throughout the class as I clumsily attempted to keep up, grumpily declaring (to everyone, but we all knew who he was talking about) that this wasn’t a beginner’s class. Clearly we differed on our definition of all levels. It was some time before I gave yoga another shot.

The second time was at a trendy studio in East London. The beginner’s class I’d hoped to do was full, but there was an open level class I could join. “Erm, I’m not sure I have enough experience…” I said mid-flashback to my humiliating experience months earlier. “Do you know how to do downward dog?” the receptionist asked breezily. “Yep,” I said confidently. “You’ll be fine.” An hour later, covered in sweat and every body part aching I vowed I would never try yoga again.

But I did. After snapping my Achilles Tendon (which was every bit as painful as it sounds) and unable to do any exercise that involved even low levels of leaping around, I tried Pilates, which I enjoyed for a while. Leg on the mend and getting a bit bored of the miniscule movements that Pilates mostly seems to involve, I found a lovely hatha yoga class at my local leisure centre. Then the teacher left and I didn’t get on with her replacement. I briefly flirted with Bikram. And finally I found vinyasa flow, a fast, athletic style of yoga and Stretch, staffed by creative, inspiring teachers. Nearly two years later I’m still hooked.

I might be high on the happy vibes of yoga but I truly believe that there’s a yoga class for everyone. My advice? Unless you’re lucky enough to find ‘the one’ on your first class, persevere. Take advantage of the introductory deals that many studios offer and try lots of different classes and teachers until you find the combination that feels like the perfect fit. Believe me the benefits, which include a cardiovascular workout, increased muscle strength and tone, weight loss, lower levels of stress and increased flexibility, are worth it.

What’s your experience of yoga? Love it, loathe it, yet to try it? Do share.

{Contributors}

Photograph of Evangeline Lilly: Tony Duran/Women’s Health magazine

Author
Born in Yorkshire. Lives in East London. California girl at heart.
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27 thoughts on “Find Your Yoga Bliss

  1. I adore yoga. I’ve been going to a regular class for the last 3 years. I’m taking my mum along on Sunday for her first class!

  2. We don’t have many yoga studios in Aberdeen, so my experiences are some what different. But I have gone to a yoga class at my gym and loved it. But the times of classes are limited and with the wedding coming up body pump tends to take priority. However I am determined to make yoga a part of my life soon!

    1. I know I’m lucky, we’re spoilt for great yoga studios in London. Maybe you could do a few yoga poses at home Stef, in the run up to the wedding? Would be a great balance to the body pump and keep you calm as the big day approaches. One of my regular teachers has taught classes to brides and their maids on the day of the wedding. Followed by a glass or two of champagne, sounds pretty much like my perfect morning-of!

  3. I love yoga and have done it for years. I thought my favourite was Bikram until our instructor decided to “experiment” with vinyasa…it was the toughest yoga class I’ve ever done but I loved every second of it. I wasn’t so enthusiastic a few days later when I could barely move!! HA Unfortunately our instructor took ill and I’m not keen on her replacement so haven’t attended a class in quite some time, I have my Yoga app so I can continue at home though. Have to agree with Stef, with an upcoming wedding its body pump and personal training all the way!!

    1. I was a massive Bikram fan until I discovered vinyasa flow and then I couldn’t get back on board with the repetitiveness of Bikram, although I do love how I feel after 90 minutes in the hot room! It’s amazing the difference the teacher makes. What app are you using Lauren? I’m yet to try any apps or online classes, although I’ve heard good things about yogaglo. Could be a great money and time-saver, although I think I’d still do group classes too!

  4. I have never tried Yoga, but pretty much everything else, I began pilates just under a year ago and found it did do great things for my core, I’m just not convinced it is enough for me in terms of cardio though, I can get a little bored during a class. I still do some moves during pregnancy to keep my abdominals in check (as much as is physically possible to do this obviously!)

    The Vinyasa flow sounds perfect, I’ll have to see if there are any classes in the Midlands, it’s a shame that it only seems to be London that has the most variety, and my gym classes are for the most part, useless. Has anyone else experienced this? gym classes being useless I mean?

    1. Hang on, what?! You’re pregnant? Congratulations Charlotte!

      I tried a “Fitness yoga” class at uni in Aberdeen once, and it also wasn’t really for beginners and the instructor did not take to me and my friend blundering around in the back of the class. I then tried Jayne Middlemiss’ Love yoga DVD which I did enjoy, but found it a bit long and I’m like Charlotte, I prefer jumping around cardio type work-outs. x

          1. Sometimes I wonder too (!) although I do have a great team, and we re-structured at the end of last year so we’re much more organised these days.

            I miss jumping around so much, there is only so much you can do using a chair/mat at a slow pace. Roll on April.

  5. I do Body Balance at least three times a week which combines yoga, tai chi and pilates so you get the best of all worlds! It’s done to music with the tracks being matched to the moves in each discipline. It’s a great work out not only physically but also mentally as the last ‘track’ takes the form of medidation/relaxation. Recommend that everyone should give it a go!

    1. I used to go to a Body Balance class and loved it. I’ve been meaning to find a yoga class but I’d forgotten about Body Balance. Goes off to look for classes ….

  6. I love doing yoga and home, and use youtube as a great (and free) source of classes.
    The best one I’ve found for total beginners is Ekhart yoga. Otherwise I just search for beginners classes on youtube and take it from there!

  7. I love yoga. We have a lady who comes into our school once a week. I usually have marking or planning to do, which for a brief minute will seem more important, but I make myself to go each time. It has become my vital one hour of peace. There is something lovely about focusing on your breathing and stretching out your body. During that hour I always think I really should respect my body more. Then Friday comes and I reach for the wine! x

    1. Whenever I don’t feel like going to yoga I always remember what a friend of mine says, “You never feel worse after a yoga class.” And usually you feel much better. It’s no bad thing to have a glass of wine (or several) it’s all about a life in balance! x

  8. I have just started yoga and absolutely love it! My gym runs just one class a week on a Friday lunch time it is so relaxing even if I do end up a little achey after some of the poses. I am finding work very stressful at the moment and working long hours I think it may just change my life a little! Does anyone have any good yoga apps they can recommend I’d like to try and do it more than once a week. x

    p.s Congratulations Charlotte!

    1. I find yoga such a great antidote to stressful times too. I haven’t tried any yoga apps, but I’ll ask around and let you know if I hear of any good ones! x

  9. What a lovely post! I’m really enjoying my daily visit to the blog, you’re all so talented. Currently reading Ashtanga Yoga Practice and Philosophy by Gregor Maehle! It’s fascinating…I really recommend! I too dabbled for with various classes for years then moved to Birmigham and found the yogi Robin Aurora…I’ve been hooked for the past 4 years!

    1. Thank you Lizzie, so happy to hear you’re enjoying the blog! Just started reading Light On Life by B.K.S. Iyengar, will have to order Ashtanga Yoga Practice and Philosophy to read next! It’s so great when you find the right teacher isn’t it? I’m lucky, all the teachers at Stretch are great, but I do have my favourites!

  10. Love love love yoga! I used to street run until I was involved in a bad car crash! I got a bit depressed that I couldn’t run and my physio recommended I tried yoga, I was sceptical at first. Once I started I realised my body was working, possibly, harder than it ever had before, it also got me through the stresses of planning a big wedding with ease! I am totally converted, my husband wants to join in and my 8year old daughter often joins me on the mat xx

    1. Totally agree, find the right class and it really can be a great workout Kathy. Love that your husband is planning to join in and that your 8 year old daughter already joins you on the mat – wish I’d discovered yoga at that age! x

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