I have always wanted to do yoga properly.
I love the idea of a practice that can benefit both body and mind; that gives you a workout, helps you relax and focus, and enables you to become more in tune with yourself, while improving your physical abilities, stamina and strength. It’s much more appealing to me than, say, weights at the gym, or an hour of swimming. No thank you.
Physically, the benefits are obvious: yoga can help to improve my flexibility, posture, and muscles while keeping me active. My parents have always told me that stretching is important and, as I get older, I should be doing all I can to keep my body as supple as possible to make life a little easier for myself in the future. Tick, tick, tick!
And then there are the mental benefits, too.
As a chronic worrier facing my own mental health challenges, the meditative element of yoga sounds almost too good to be true; focusing on movement and breathing, appreciating your body and its abilities, setting intentions and thanking yourself for working hard regardless of how good you are. It sounds like the most soothing exercise you could choose.
Yet, despite all of the above, I’ve struggled to go to yoga classes regularly for many years.
You may remember in my goals and intentions for 2018 that I pledged to go to my lunchtime yoga classes frequently. I tried my best, and when work was quieter I made the effort to go, but deadlines got in the way, and I ended up cancelling most of my classes.
Yoga was always, as with most exercise, the first thing to go when my life got busy.
Even when I did make it onto the mat, my mind was elsewhere, and I rarely saw improvement. I never felt the mental benefits (even with wonderful teachers).
Not to mention the fact that yoga can sometimes be intimidating in a completely different way. Once you read into it, it’s an entire lifestyle and philosophy and a very ancient practice; one that should not, it seems, be embarked upon lightly. Because I didn’t entirely understand the deeper meaning of the practice, it scared me off a little bit too; I didn’t feel like I should be doing something I couldn’t fully grasp for fear of being a fraud.
On top of that, I just genuinely didn’t feel like I was any good at it; which is enough, quite frankly, to put me off and ironically stop me from ever improving! When you feel like you are surrounded by experts, it’s hard to muster up the courage to even try.
It just never worked out; but I’d caught a glimpse of what yoga could do for me, and I wanted more. I wanted to understand, I wanted to improve, and I wanted to take it a little more seriously; I just wasn’t sure how.
And that brings me to now.
Over the next few months, I’m going to be re-starting my yoga journey from scratch and documenting my progress, honest thoughts and experiences in a regular (hopefully fortnightly!) diary on my blog.
I’m hoping to see improvements mentally and physically; to experience new moves and types of practice; to calm my mind and see the difference in my thinking, and to keep it up as regularly as I can.
Now, a little honesty and transparency is needed here, too: this is my first proper blog collaboration.
It all started with a chance email; a helping hand from a colleague and friend; a Sunday-morning meeting over rose lemonade tea…and suddenly, here we are!
Benedita from Southampton’s first Hot Yoga Studio, In Balance Hot Yoga, has invited me to spend the next few months fully integrating yoga into my routine, prioritising it and reaping the benefits.
She understands my concerns and everything that has stopped me becoming a true yogi up until now, and is keen to help me get there at my own pace, and prove that I can do it.
I would like to add now that, though I am working with Benedita and her team at In Balance, everything will be 100% honest and my own opinion. If I struggle, don’t enjoy a class or have problems with anything, I’ll be telling you about it; transparency is key, especially when documenting a journey; there are sure to be ups and downs!
And so, here we go! I’ve already had a few lessons and can’t wait for the next and to tell you all about it.
Watch out for each update, and if you’re also starting a similar journey, we can do it together!
If you’re a converted yogi, a beginner or someone as curious as I am, please let me know; I would love to hear from you. Any advice is, as always, is welcome.