Everyone comes to the practice for different reasons. You may identify yourself as an ‘inflexible person’ and look to gain some mobility, or a really flexible person seeking stability; you may be an athlete looking to cross train; you may be looking to seek some balance in your life and perhaps quieten your mind or indeed you may just be intrigued as to what all the fuss is about.
There are also lots of reasons why people don’t come to yoga too: not fit enough, not enough time, not bendy enough, don’t look good enough in a pair leggings (they are not compulsory), they are a man (!), too old, too young, think yoga is all about chanting… But really it’s for everyone. As the saying goes – if you can breathe, you can do yoga.
And there are lots of lofty statements that yoga will transform your life, that you will find deep inner peace, be able to put your leg behind your head, become a guru or a saint and never, ever get annoyed with someone for walking too slowly in front of you or for taking your place in a queue. Heaven forbid. You might be able to do all of those things after years of yoga – and you might not.
For me yoga has simply allowed me to better know myself and has brought me more awareness. More awareness to which hip is tighter, how my hamstrings feel that day, whether or not my shoulders are glued to my ears in stress, where I carry tension, where I’m strong, where I need more development, whether I’m pushing too hard, or not enough…
It has made me aware of my breath – how I react in certain poses helps me notice how I react in certain situations – have you ever noticed when you are stressed, nervous or have a tight deadline you actually hold your breath? Or how we only ever breath into certain parts of our lungs? What can you notice now even as you are sitting here reading this – can you relax your shoulders, unclench your jaw, soften those muscles around your eyes and take a few deep breaths?
Yoga has made me aware of those wonderful and sometimes not so wonderful thoughts and emotions too. And this is probably the hardest bit – noticing when you are uncomfortable, when you experience joy, when you are running away or finding it hard to let go.
And yes, after many years I do feel stronger, more agile, more stable and maybe sometimes even a bit more serene…! The key with anything is doing it regularly enough to observe the benefits – so come, ask as may questions as you like, feel a bit foolish, have a laugh, move, play and enjoy your body – we only have one after all.