Yoga is a great way to improve mental and physical health and (if physically able) can benefit everyone. Yoga has a rich cultural and spiritual history which I will delve into in another post, but here I will discuss yoga purely as an exercise form.
Why should I add yoga to my workout routine?
Humans are built for movement. With hundreds of thousands years of evolution honing our bodies to be ideal for ambling up rock faces, running across fields, bending to forage for fruit and nuts and much more. The exercise routines people often do now (if at all) can be very limiting in the body parts they target which can sometimes lead to imbalances and injury, or give the idea that the individual is much healthier than they actually are. Focussing on a single exercise type can put a lot of pressure on certain muscle sets and leave others to wither creating ligament and joint problems in the long term. Just like diet, it's important to have a broad exercise routine which you can be consistent with. Yoga is a superb addition or starting point to a routine as you don't need bulky machines or masses of space. It can also elevate other areas of your routine, such as running. And as someone who mainly only ran for 8 years now suffering with calf problems, I'm a firm believer it's important to undertake a whole range of exercises including endurance, strength, and flexibly. I also find yoga is a wonderful way to get to better know your body and your mind and feel generally happier.
If this is all new to you it may sound 'fluffy' but essentially yoga as an exercise is a great way to move your body in ways it would never normally do in everyday life (and even in other type of exercises). It uses those slightly forgotten muscles and ligaments, and keeps your body in good shape which is important as we age.
How can yoga benefit my body?
Yoga will build flexibility which is important as we age to remain supple and aligned, and reduce aches and pains. What people who don't do yoga often don't realise is that you can build a lot of strength and tone your body. This is done as the poses often use your own body weight as resistance, for example in planks, downward dogs, warrior and chair poses, and more. There have been many studies proving how yoga builds strength in people who consistently do yoga several times a week over a period of 6 - 8 months.
I personally find that as well as improving strength, it improves my posture and helps calf and knee pain which I developed through years of running. This has enabled me to get back out running (whilst making sure I stretch properly after).
Finally, I don't like to separate the body and mind completely. They are linked and one impacts the other. We try and do some yoga every morning (even if it's just ten minutes) and without fail we notice how yoga improves our mood for the rest of the day.
Yoga for beginners
If you're new to yoga it can seem intimidating but I promise you that every person you see online or in person doing a headstand or mermaid pose started exactly where you are. With no yoga experience. Names for poses can be confusing and at first it may seem impossible to be able to do some (or most). But just like everything that's good in life, consistency is key. The more you do this you will naturally start remembering the names for poses without even trying, and one day you will be notice that you are doing things you could not do at the start. And no, it is never too late to start yoga.
In person classes are useful as teachers can give you constructive feedback on your poses and help you to perfect them. It's also nice to see other people at varying levels and where they are in their practice as well as potentially meet new people and friends in the community. Check out reviews online of the venue and the teacher (look for how long they have been practicing and how long they've been teaching) and find somewhere that you can be consistent with (how far away is it, and what time are the classes on?). Also, before you attend, find out if you should take your own mat or if they have some there. Covid rules could very well mean you have to take your own mat now but check this out. We recommend our cork yoga mats. If you can and want to use mats at the venue I would recommend taking some anti-bacterial wipes just in case. A yoga class can also be great on a work lunch break over other exercises as you don't necessarily build up much sweat (although this depends the type of yoga and how much you put into it. For example hot yoga classes take place in a venue which is made hot and humid which gives a more intense workout).
If you really don't fancy starting in a class there are plenty of yoga workouts you can do at home from watching someone online and some are free. A popular free choice is Adriene's Yoga channel on Youtube. She separates her videos by topic such as 'yoga for runners', 'yoga for strength', 'morning yoga' and many more. You can also then pick the length of the class to suit you.
What yoga mat should I use?
Yoga mats are incredibly useful. When you go to a studio or gym to do yoga, having your own puts your mind at ease regarding hygiene for starters. There is also something inspiring about having your own yoga mat which puts you in the right frame of mind every time you get it out to practice. It also can feel necessary for some poses which can be tough on the hands and feet when placed directly on the floor, and a yoga mat should also provide grip as some floors are slippery.
We worked hard to create a high quality yoga mat which is unique and will last you. Tropical Lobster Cork Yoga Mats are the perfect blend of comfort, quality, beauty, and eco-friendliness. Our Cork Yoga Mats have a natural rubber base and natural cork, high grip surface, with a unique engraved design with alignment lines.
Our unique alignment lines are great for beginners and pros alike to achieve perfect posture. Our alignment lines allow you to position your body to reduce injuries as you balance poses and movements evenly. The engraved design also contains classic yoga poses which can be used for inspiration during your routine.
Our Cork Yoga Mat offers ultra grip and high performance, reducing risk of falling and injury, whilst enhancing your yoga practice and providing you with smooth transitions between poses. They are also free from silicone, PVC, and phthalates. They offer a cleaner yoga experience as the material is naturally anti-bacterial and also odour resistant.
Finally, our Cork Yoga Mats are biodegradable and recyclable. The rubber is made from the sap from rubber trees and the cork comes from the bark of cork oak trees. Every 9 years bark can be taken to make the cork and the tree will continue to live for hundreds of years making this a tree-friendly process.
Yoga Poses for Beginners
Here are some great poses to try as you begin your yoga journey. Enjoy!
Lotus pose (mindful meditation)