If you’ve not tried yoga, or sometimes even if you have, you may think you need to be incredibly flexible, lithe-limbed and able to bend into seemingly impossible positions. Viewed by many as a female-dominated fitness class, the images of yoga in the media and on advertising can make many people think it’s not for them.
The reality, however, is very different. With so many different classes and styles of yoga out there, I firmly believe there’s something for everyone. And there are also lots of good reasons why you and your family should think about giving it a go.
The health benefits of yoga are numerous, but with the hectic pace of modern life one of the biggest benefits it brings is stress relief. The slow deep breathing techniques and flowing repetitive movements in yoga are a brilliant way to help your brain and body unwind.
Yoga is also brilliant for increasing flexibility and core strength. Although you don’t need to be super flexible to take it up, you’ll find that the more you do, the more flexible you’ll get. Best of all, it’s a low impact form of exercise, making it easy for anyone and everyone to take part.
Yoga is also great if you’re already sporty, as it can help to ease aching muscles, build muscle strength which will protect you from injury and improve your breathing techniques – particularly useful if you’re a runner.
I could never cover every type of yoga in this article, as there are so many now – from hot yoga to yoga for the elderly – but just to prove my point that there really is something for all the family, here are just some of the choices you can take your pick from.
That’s right – even babies can get in on the act with yoga. Baby yoga is a great way for new mums to do some gentle exercise while still caring for their new baby. Classes are usually relaxed affairs and with so many babies present, you won’t feel like everyone is staring when yours starts crying.
Exercises involve many of the traditional moves you would find in a normal yoga class, aimed to build strength and flexibility, but many are modified to include plenty of interaction with your baby as the class progresses.
Yoga for kids
Most people don’t associate yoga with children’s activity, but actually it can be brilliant for kids too. Lots of yoga studios have started to realise the benefits of providing kids classes, which often involve illustrating stories through yoga poses.
Yoga can have lots of positive benefits for children, including helping them to develop body awareness and coordination, building concentration and increasing body confidence and positive self-image.
If you’re looking for something to ease you into yoga, look for classes like Hatha yoga. Generally, classes advertised as Hatha yoga will be a gentle introduction to various yoga poses.
Doing Hatha yoga can also be great if you’re recovering from injury, as you’re given plenty of time to ease yourself into each pose which means you’re less likely to cause further strain.
This type of class isn’t one where you’re likely to work up a sweat, but you’ll leave feeling relaxed, loose of limb and just a tad more flexible.
Getting a little more intense
If you’re looking for something a bit more challenging, there are plenty of more intense or faster paced forms of yoga that could work for you. Ashtanga yoga is a great example. This is a form of yoga which creates a flow of movement between the various yoga poses. It is pretty fast-paced and you will definitely find it gets your heart rate up.
Another way to up the intensity is to attend a hot yoga class. Held in specially heated studios, even hatha yoga in these conditions will feel like a more intense workout. If you decide to attend a hot yoga class, a towel is a must – you will sweat. A lot.
These suggestions only brush the surface of the many yoga classes out there, from pregnancy yoga to Vinyasa yoga to yogacise and more. If the first class you try isn’t right for you, don’t let it put you off. Try a few different styles and see what suits you best. The one thing I can guarantee is that once you’ve found the right yoga class for you, you’ll be hooked.