8 reasons why yoga is for everybody
Grab your mat…yoga is waiting for you! Hannah Glancy highlights eight key reasons why yoga is for literally everybody
Super-skinny women who bend like pretzels, wear pastel-coloured leggings for fun, look ah-may-zing in a sweatband and quaff litres of kale-based beverages. You’d be forgiven if that is your go-to image for the average yoga student nowadays. There is no denying that yoga can be seen as a trendy lifestyle choice for those who ‘suit’ it. However, here is one body conscious, tattooed, far-from-average teacher telling you otherwise! Hopefully by the end of this article I can convince you that yoga IS for everybody, no matter what gender, shape, hobby or lifestyle you choose to live.
1. Accessing classes has never been easier
With the privacy of turning off your video and an endless buffet of online classes, getting into yoga has never been easier. Lately, I have been heart-warmed at the variety of students who have swung by our studio’s inbox. In my studio (Proper Northern Yoga) we’ve always been lucky enough to have a diverse range of clients from teenagers to the over 70s. Male, female, climbers, runners, beginners, teachers, coppers, carers and singers, keen frisbee players and so much more! Over lockdown our small sphere has gone from local to global, diversifying our clientele even more. Weirdly, going online in some way is connecting us even better to experiences we might otherwise avoid.
2. You do not have to be flexible
That old chestnut. Ask your local friendly yoga teachers how often they have heard this and trust me… they have long since lost count. I will repeat: this is not an excuse. Yoga increases your flexibility. A good teacher will tell you there is no end goal, the aim is actually to understand your movement, and your mind, a whole lot more. Therefore, flexibility… well it’s not a thing.
3. It will enhance your activities
So, you do CrossFit, or fell run, or maybe badminton is your thing. Whatever your jam, yoga is there to be the absoloute complement to any and all other activities. The combination of subtle strength, mindful movement, observance of thought and cultivation of breath makes yoga a holistic practice to enhance any sport and even more so your daily life. Expect to feel centred and calm, and ready to rock your sport with some self-aware flair.
4. Men do yoga too
In the last few years, we have seen football stars, famous musicians and actors reveal their secret love of yoga. Icons such as Sting, Russel Brand, Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey are known to be practitioners. In India, the birthplace of yogic practice, yogis are predominantly men. When you take away the idea that yoga is purely for fitness and embrace the wider aspects of the practice, yoga becomes an essential part of a wellbeing diet for anyone and everyone.
5. It doesn’t judge
The beauty of cultivating a practice is that yoga is so varied that one minute it can be asking you to access a deep inner strength and willpower to hold, to breathe, to stay and the next it can be asking you to soften, observe and reflect. There is no one mood to yoga.
It’s a reflection and regulation of the state of your being. There is just you and a mat, maybe some blocks, sometimes a bolster and if you’re feeling luxurious an eye pillow and blanket. Your practice is yours to explore. Enjoy.
6. You learn to breathe
While you may think you’ve got this skill down, I guarantee you haven’t really breathed until you’ve tried breathing like a yogi. This is hands down my all time fave aspect of practice. Breathing. There are so many ways to be playful and curious about the breath. This alone is why people should try yoga.
7. Daily mindfulness and meditative practice change your brain
Yoga can be seen as a way of preparing the body for meditation, for moving mindfully and with awareness to increase proprioception and be more in touch with the world around you. This has a knock-on effect, improving your response to the small daily traumas of life and giving you tools to be more calm and collected in the face of negative situations
8. Finally, yoga helps…
With stress, back problems, joint longevity, lymphatic flow, vagal tone, CNS regulation, tension, exercise DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), flexibility and overstimulation in thoughts. It keeps you sat firmly on the calm cushion and in touch with a grounding, earthy reality. Who doesn’t want that in this very ungrounded time? It works on internal and external connections, to yourself, your compassion and to others. It helps you be in the now. To be here. Just as you are.
Ultimately, yoga can be body, mind and life-altering. I should know: yoga brought me to a lifestyle, a business, a reflective conversation with myself and the chance to be writing this article…and maybe even reaching out to you.
Hannah Glancy is creator and founder of Proper Northern Yoga, the Lake District’s most innovative studio based in Kendal. As well as owning a studio she works with special educational needs bringing wellbeing to at-risk teens and shares her passion of teaching with regular trainees online and in the studio through propernorthernyoga.com