I heard someone say the other day that yoga over 40 will kill you! It made me wonder what kind of yoga they were contemplating doing!
The health benefits of yoga for body and mind
If you've been on my website at all, you'll know that my mantra is that yoga is for everybody. It's not about the shape of your body, your age, your weight or how you look; although the amazing thing is that as you get into the poses more and more it can actually transform us from within. You may find that you start to feel better and look better too. As we age, it's a sad fact that most people tend to put on weight, especially women. Yoga will strengthen your muscles, loosen your fascia (connective tissue) and in this way, already your posture will start to improve. You might feel taller, look slimmer without even losing a single pound and already you'll also notice that some of the aches and pains you had have started to ease when you practise. Not only this, but yoga will also transform your mind, connecting to your inner stillness, helping you cope with anxiety or mild depression and giving you a bit of headspace to perhaps make more positive choices. This can have a huge impact on many factors which affect our health like our eating and sleeping patterns and how we cope with stress. These all affect our weight and sense of wellbeing.
I know what you're thinking. You've seen wannabes on Instagram or You Tube and all the challenging and contortionist poses that they do. Maybe you think it's not worth doing yoga because you want to burn calories. Before we get to calories, I need to tell you that true yoga is from the heart and you feel it from within. You don't have to contort you body into unnatural and challenging shapes; you can benefit from simple poses done in a mindful way in tune with the breath. If you’re a beginner to any exercise, including yoga, you will also need to start slowly and gradually build up your practice. This allows you to build up your strength and flexibility and prevent injuries. If you don’t have time for a full class on certain days, you could do a home practice for at least 20 minutes.
But what about burning calories? Cardio is great for this and we do all need to quick bursts of exercise every day to keep fit. What you may not know is that if you practise yoga as often as possible you may also lose weight from it as the body burns energy flowing through poses and from holding them. Sometimes you will feel your heart rate is raised and that means your heart will start to work more effectively too. If you're already doing cardio exercise such as HIT, Zumba, running, swimming or even walking it's a good idea to balance it out with a more relaxing, gentle class.
Yoga and your comfort zone
I do get it. Doing yoga for the first time, especially if you've managed to go a few decades without it, might feel like a daunting prospect. I am here to guide you. I know that each time I have gone out of my comfort zone I was nervous and scared but each time wonderful things happened. I met my partner online in 2008 when online dating was something that not everyone dared do; I gave up a safe and relatively well-paid career in an excellent college with an Outstanding Ofsted rating to follow my dreams to be a yoga teacher.
Once the pandemic hit the UK, I started doing yoga classes on Zoom almost straight away, making a fool of myself as I fumbled with the technology. I even had sleepless nights because it just wasn't me. Or so I thought. All I knew was I wanted to connect to my students when we all felt suddenly isolated in the first lockdown. 8 months later I'm still doing it and thinking of making videos for this blog. In fact, I livestream regularly, the girl who never wanted to be filmed. Why? Because I'm passionate about sharing my yoga the only way I can during Covid and so I had to get out of my teaching comfort zone and learn.
Why I am telling you this? Because I didn't really do anything too much like this until I was over 40! Until then I was happy to drift along without much of a plan. Yoga and meditation helped me deal with the fallout of poor choices in relationships, struggles with my bank balance, juggling full time work with being a single parent, stress and ultimately burnout- some pretty tough stuff! Going out of your comfort zone to try something you've never done before is scary but it can open up your life to new possibilities. It honestly can. I didn't think I could build a website and the fact you're reading it is evidence I have! And at the end of the day, what is the worst that can happen? You might feel right now it's the last thing you want to do. You're tired, stressed, don't have time. Take those first steps. If you don't enjoy it or benefit from it, it doesn't have to be for life. Strangely, though, you might just find it is! Once you start and feel better. But if you don't try it you won't know. Since you're on this page, I'm guessing you're more than a bit curious.
The first steps we take are always the hardest. We worry about not being perfect, that we don't look as good as other people, that we will be no good or it won't work. We often have enough to do juggling life and think it will just suck out a little more of our time when we could be relaxing on the sofa after a hard day. But give yoga a chance to work its magic. Find a local teacher who you can talk to and who will listen and take into account what your needs are. Local classes are so much more tailored to your needs as they tend to be smaller than those in gyms or yoga studios and tend to be friendly and welcoming. You'll also build a sense of community with the other people in your class as you'll find you may have a lot in common. I know that's what happens in my own local classes. Come to me and join us if you are in Leeds! I would love to teach you and yoga will do you good. As it becomes a habit, you'll find you'll start to feel it's something you want to belong to as you begin to look and feel better. If you're not sure how to find a local teacher you can look on Yoga Hub which is a great resource.
If you're not able to get to a local class and don't want to go on Zoom during the pandemic, I can highly recommend you start with Movement for Modern Life, a website and app for online yoga classes. I can honestly say this because I also subscribe to their website myself and access their classes online when I feel I need someone else to guide me. Sometimes when you're a yoga teacher, you really feel you'd like someone else to lead you and teach you. I never want to stop learning and growing in my practice. There is an amazing array of classes including Yoga for Beginners, all with world class teachers and it's very convenient to use. A good way to start getting into yoga is with their 30 Day Challenge in Beginner Yoga. This is a high quality offering and subscription to the whole site is excellent value for only £10.99 a month with a free 14 day trial. There are other challenges you can sign up to as well as regular classes and they helpfully send you a reminder email every day to motivate you through. The site is easy to navigate, clear and modern in outlook. It's great is you're short on time as you can easily access it on your phone or iPad. I have subscribed for over 2 years and some of the highly regarded teachers I have done trainings with are on there, which is a massive bonus.
Take a look at Movement for Modern Life here.
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