Happy New Year! Along with the new Year, let’s celebrate today being international Mind-Body Wellness day. Even though it’s great to have New Year's Resolutions (no pressure, it’s completely fine if you don’t have any), let today be a reminder to practice kindness.
Whether you’ve heard of the benefits yoga can bring or simply want to try it out of curiosity - you’re here and you have no idea whatsoever on how to get started.
Starting a new activity from scratch can seem daunting, especially when there’s a range of styles available. It’s important to question what wellness means to you more broadly and to be aware of the reasons pushing you to practice - could be anything you want to cultivate. You will get more out of the practice when you have a clear intention in mind. This doesn’t mean that your reasons for practicing will not evolve, on some days you might want to have an intense workout that makes you sweat and on others a relaxing, gentler practice, and that’s completely fine! Yoga has a wide range of styles on offer - there are so many styles that can fulfill a variety of needs, each with varying levels of difficulty but they all share the same goal of creating a greater sense of well-being.
You might want to try different styles before figuring out which is the right fit for you. On some days, a style or pose that works for someone else may not work for you.
You may have heard of buzzwords like “vinyasa yoga”, “power yoga”, “hot yoga”, “restorative yoga”. We’ll break down some of the main styles available. If you have any health conditions, make sure to check with your doctor before practicing.
A series of asanas (poses) in a flowing sequence, harmonising movement with pranayama (breath). The emphasis is not simply on each posture, but more so on the transition from one to the other, building strength and flexibility. As a dynamic practice, the intensity and pace is never the same and varies according to each teacher. Adapting the breath to quick movements can make it a challenging but worthwhile practice. Look out for Ashtanga yoga, a style under Vinyasa if you’re looking for core training and a higher intensity workout to increase endurance and stamina.
A generic practice that provides the basis for most common styles. A combination of asanas with an emphasis on breathwork, the goal is to gain awareness of your body. Great for beginners as it builds a foundation on yoga, is usually slower paced and poses are held for a longer period of time. If muscles get tired, bring your attention back to the breath.
Deep state of relaxation. Whilst vinyasa works the muscle and yin focuses on the connective tissues, restorative does none. Involves deep stretching without discomfort to relieve tension. A style that focuses a lot more on mindfulness and gentle asanas. Whether you’re recovering from an injury or simply want peace of mind after a long day, this style’s entire purpose is to relax your mind - expect blankets!
Finding peace in stillness. A slow-paced practice focused on meditation that works the subtle, connective tissues like bones, joints, ligaments rather than the muscles. Poses mainly take place sitting or on the mat and are held for a couple of minutes. As our entire body is connected, it’s a great practice to balance an intense yang dominated vinyasa style.
Overall, yoga aims to bring balance by enhancing physical and mental well-being. The focus is to find what the right fit for you is, and the best way to do that is by experimenting.