Yoga is something I stumbled into by accident. After a recommendation from a nutritionist, I delved into it on and off for years, never really understanding the passion some people professed for it. But as time went on, and my stress levels and back pain increased, yoga became more and more attractive.
Last year I finally decided I had to commit to it, that just like everything else in life – you get back what you put in, and I was never going to become a full blown yogi (and experience all the alleged benefits) by mistake. So I signed up for yoga teacher training, hoping that someone else holding me accountable would make downward dog a more frequent occurrence.
That, I learned the hard way, is not how yoga works. Yoga is about yourself, your own struggle and nobody else. Eventually, as I dragged myself to the mat time and again, I learned to stop fighting. I learned to breathe more deeply and enjoy the respite from an otherwise hectic and results driven life. My year of teacher training culminated in a week-long intensive, 7 days of yoga during the hottest week of our Irish summer. It was during this week that I really began to get a kick out of it, and found myself craving yoga when the week was over – something I never thought would happen.
Yoga has become as important to me as running (for those of you who don’t know me, I run for my sanity, and possibly everyone else’s benefit, as I would be a pain in a** otherwise – if I could join the VS Angels without having to exercise, I would still run) and is a little bit easier on my knees and hips. What I didn’t previously realise was that you can also work up quite a sweat simply doing yoga – something I’ve mentioned before in relation to clear skin, and an element I need from exercise to feel like I’ve really done some at all. In contrast to a spinning class, where I tend to feel like I might actually die of dehydration sometimes, the sweating during yoga tends to be much more enjoyable. A couple of rounds of a sun salutation is enough to warm up, but for a real sweat, a headstand is hard to beat.
Completing my teacher training has given me a love for yoga I didn’t think I’d ever find, and opened up a method of exercise that is easy on my joints and clears my head without pounding the pavement. Have you ever tried yoga, or are you as skeptical about it as I once was?
A morning meditation to get you started: