You might remember that right at the start of the year I had a go at a bit of Yoga. I loved doing it but haven’t really managed to keep it up and this is something I’m going to work on in September when we get back to a bit more of a normal routine. My motivation for even having a go at Yoga in the first place was the lovely Molly from
I’ve known Molly for a good few years now and watching her journey and love for Yoga grow in line with her incredible mental and physical strength is truly inspiring so with that in mind I wanted to share a post from her about what Yoga means to her . . .
|Molly and her daughter Leela|
Yoga provokes a reaction in people. It’s not hostile exactly, but whenever people find out that it’s my chosen form of exercise (as well as my way of life), I am almost guaranteed to be faced with one of the following responses: I could never do that, I’m not flexible enough. Do you chant and stuff then? I don’t have the time, I’m a busy mum.
Most of the above are accompanied by a slightly fearful expression, as though I might be about to try to convert them to some kind of religious cult, along with disbelief that I too, often struggle to touch my toes. What usually happens in response to all of this is that I end up kind of stuttering an incomprehensible and unconvincing response, so here and now, with no time pressure thanks to the luxury of blogging, are my slightly more mindful replies to the doubters…
Yoga is for everyBODY: the inflexible argument has always struck me as kind of strange, but I guess in this age of Instagram we’re bombarded with images of perfection, and yoga it seems is not immune. Despite the fact that the notion of perfection simply doesn’t exist within yoga, it persists and prevails at every level – non yogi’s think that they should already be able to touch their toes and therefore are put off from even trying, whilst experienced students are fixated with achieving the perfect expression of a pose while also getting the perfect shot on their camera phone. I’ve been there, on both ends of the scale, but the fact is, yoga isn’t about what you look like or what you think you can or can’t do. It’s about how you feel within your body, becoming aware of how your body and mind are connected, dwelling in that connection and suddenly realising just how good it feels. We are more connected to each other via technology than ever before, but somewhere along the line we forgot to stay connected to ourselves. Yoga helps us to become present and aware of ourselves, through the simple act of breathing, moving, pausing – and the mental and physical health benefits are phenomenal. So don’t worry if you can’t touch your toes – you are already right where you are meant to be.
Chanting, Om, and stuff… Some classes are rooted in spiritual practices (yoga is, after all part of an ancient Indian tradition) and so might include chanting or Sanskrit terms being used. This might put off a newbie, so if you think it might make you feel uncomfortable then do a bit of research about the multitude of yoga styles out there – some of them chant and some of them don’t. My personal experience was that as soon as I got the yoga bug, I wanted to know MORE, which led to reading about the traditions and more spiritual side, which just enhanced my life even further. So while you might not find me chanting aum out loud at the beginning or end of a session, you will find me taking a moment of silence to be grateful for my body, this life, our planet. But as Tara Stiles likes to say – there are no rules in yoga! Do what makes you feel good, listen to your body, and if you don’t want to chant then don’t chant – or choose a class where you don’t have to.
Never enough time… Here’s the thing. You can do as much or as little yoga as you want or are able to do. It can be a 90 minute sweat inducing, arm aching marathon, or it can be two minutes (yes, I said 2 minutes) to yourself, simply sitting and quietly listening to your breath. There are 8 limbs of yoga, each addressing a different aspect of living/behaving and they are all as valid in contributing to positive health and well being as the physical practice or asana. I have weeks (months!) where time and energy simply do not allow for my preferred 30 minutes a day session – the fact is we all have busy lives and commitments, so the important thing is not to beat ourselves up because we didn’t hit the mat today. Instead, taking a moment to pause and think – this is my yoga – can be just as beneficial. If a moment of mindfulness just isn’t your thing, then try a few youtube yoga sessions – 3 minutes before bedtime might just make the difference between a racing mind and insomnia battle, or feeling calm, stretched out and ready to sleeeeep…
If you want to chat to Molly about her post you can find her over on Instagram, I promise you she’s always keen to talk Yoga, she won’t mind!