Yoga! You are probably thinking green juices, instagram worthy ab pictures, and headstands on white sandy beaches. Yet, although I can’t deny these are true, it is in actual fact one of the most accessible forms of exercises there is. Simply roll out a towel in you room there is no need for sweaty gyms! In the run up to exams and with the term drawing to a close, it’s fair to say we are all feeling a little more tense than usual. However, instead of crumbling into the cookie under the pressure of deadlines take some time out to relax your mind and body whilst keeping your sanity and waistline on point.
I decided to see what Yoga is all about. For one hour I joined Lucy Montague, President of the Yoga Society, for her weekly yoga session and ask her if it really does what it says. Indeed it is possible for us all to become a little more Zen…
When did you first start Yoga and what attracted you to it?
I started in April; I had done it a few times before because my Mum is really into it. She was always saying to come and join because I have quite bad anxiety. I went to a couple of classes, and I couldn’t figure out what all the breathing exercises were about! I remember thinking – this is ridiculous! Not long after, I got my hands on the book Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen, and something within me changed! It’s all about loving and allowing Yoga to help improve yourself –so cliché, I know! With any fitness society, the goal is fitness. Yet with yoga it’s about meditation, reflection and then fitness!
What would you say has been the greatest improvement that you have noticed in yourself?
Toning. I feel like when you stretch out your muscles, the blood is pumping around your body and you genuinely feel good! I feel doing exercise regularly is a really nice thing to achieve, and I always try and squeeze a little bit of yoga in everyday.
What advice would you give to a beginner to do at home, wanting to have a go at yoga?
You can start off with simply a blanket or a towel; it doesn’t even have to be a mat. Start by focusing on your breathing. It sounds really silly but not a lot of people take time out to do this. When you start focusing on your breath, you start thinking, and you loose yourself in a solitary moment. Afterwards when you have mastered the breathing being with some really simple exercises. There are so many beginner exercises on the Internet that you can copy at home.
Most people when they consider going to a yoga class will probably be nervous about how flexible they are compared to everyone else. What would your advice be?
If you are worried about coming to a class, remember that every single person in that room has been a beginner once; it’s not about looking at anyone else. It’s about just working on you and your ability. Even our secretary is a beginner, and if she can do it – everyone can do it! Never, ever, feel like you are the odd one out! I was a beginner less than a year ago. I never did any exercise previous to starting yoga, and now I really love it!
Yoga normally is associated with girls. What would you say to guys, coming up to exam season with stress levels peaking?
Yes it totally is! It’s normally because for boys they are not as flexible. However, it’s not all about flexibility, it is about becoming part of a community. Yoga is non-gendered for it is really about you and you working on your body.
Is there a stereotype about yoga you would like to erase?
When I say yoga I feel that most people will roll their eyes. There are two stereotypes attached to the sport: one about the poses being so hard that all the moves are just impossible! The other is the image of lying on a sandy beach! It’s not about either! Everyone builds his or her ability at their own pace. Just to put your hands up above your head and strike a mountain pose is just one part of the exercise; the pose is one part and the underlying benefit is that you are working muscles. I would also like to add that you don’t have to be a hippie! Yoga is for everyone!
After the hour session I can honestly say I felt relaxed. It is true, Yoga is not all about flexibility but by going often flexibility will grow and one day you’ll be able to throw your legs around your neck like a scarf. Despite all the zen I still woke up the following morning with my abs aching as though I had done a two hour gym session. However, with the post work out benefits and an hour taking out of my day with no noise or distractions to fully focus upon myself, the whole experience was fulfilling.
So, why not give it a go? If you would like to find out more, head over to the SU website under societies, or keep up to date on their Facebook page. After all, we could all benefit from a little bit of relaxation and fitness aside from our SU nights and essays! Namaste!