I’ve always believed life to be a bit of a balancing act: having a good work/rest ratio, socialising/spending time alone, eating well/not becoming obsessive, training hard/allowing time for recovery…
When I have a good balance of all these things, my mind is clearer, I generally feel more relaxed and, as a result, I’m more productive day to day. Let’s be honest though, life never quite goes as smoothly as planned. I find my ‘scales’ to be quite sensitive; stress and anxiety can very easily throw everything out of whack.
If you’ve read my New Year blog post, you’ll know that one of my goals was to practise yoga more regularly and go to at least one class every week…so far so good! I have been consistently going to various local classes, ranging from Vinyasa* to Hatha and Karma**. I have even tried hotpod yoga which was lovely…particularly with the weather being so cold at the moment!
So what benefits have I noticed? Well…on a physical level, I can already see improvements in my flexibility and core strength (which has also improved my form in compound lifts when I’m weight training). My physical balance is overall a lot better too…I remember when I first tried crow pose surrounded by a group of yogis in Bali and fell flat on my face! Now, it feels effortless.
On a psychological level…yoga definitely helps me alleviate stress and restore my ‘mental balance’. I find it such a relief to take time out, to focus on just one thing (e.g. not falling over in a headstand) and give my mind a rest from all the millions of thoughts running through it. Like with meditation, I’ve noticed how different emotions arise when I come to the mat. Sometimes I’ll do a pose and it’ll bring up a feeling of sadness or discomfort, other times it’ll make me feel calm, safe and grounded. The more I have practised, the more aware I’ve become of this mind/body connection and its importance to my overall wellbeing.
These are some of the balances I’ve been working on over the past couple of months: headstands and crow pose. If you want to give them a go, I’d recommend practising against a wall first so you don’t go flying (health n’ safety people).
Music: The Sweeplings
*Vinyasa: literally meaning to ‘arrange something in a special way’, this type of yoga focuses on connecting movement between postures to the breath. It’s usually more intense than Hatha or Karma.
**Hatha and Karma: these types are gentler on the body, focusing more on the mind and the breath.
Looking for a yoga class in and around Canterbury? Try these places: