The purpose of writing this blog is to debunk a few of the reasons why people put off doing their first yoga class and, hopefully, encourage them to just DO it!
I also wanted to share the ethos behind the Mama Love Yoga London classes, to provide FUN strength and flexibility-based dynamic classes to take us through life’s challenges and make sure that we are fit for every adventure that may come our way.
I cannot bend. I am literally a piece of wood.
I totally hear this one. As a nineties gym bunny, my twenties were spent in Step Aerobic classes, on the cross trainer and on my bike. My legs were great at pumping up and down but not so great at opening outwards. I realise here I have set myself up for all your dirty minded comments but that is my story and I am sticking to it!
From all the shock absorbing gym work and sitting at a desk all day, by the time I reached my mid thirties, my lower back and hips were stiff and painful. When I did my first yoga class I couldn’t sit cross-legged and don’t even get me started on the hip opening Half Pigeon pose. Everyone in my personal yoga world must know the saga of my tight hips!
If you have a stiff body then yoga is exactly what you should be doing, especially dynamic yoga which heats you from the inside out and allows your muscles to stretch more easily and safely. I offer modifications for every pose in my classes so they are accessible to all. Even if you start off like a piece of timber you will soon see dramatic improvements and if you can practice at least 3 times a week you will completely transform your body.
I have never exercised before. Will yoga kill me?
Yes, yes you will most probably die. That was a LIE!! I am resisting the urge to Google ‘yoga related deaths’ but, honestly, I do not know anyone who has actually died from yoga and definitely not in my class anyway.
A 75 minute class includes at least 10 minutes of breath work and stretching at the start and at least 10 minutes of relaxation at the end where you are literally lying on the floor doing nothing but relaxing! So that leaves 55 minutes. About half is designed to heat you up with flowing movement and the other half focuses on balance and flexibility.
The classes are designed with the attending students in mind so if I know there are beginners there I make sure the sequence is adapted accordingly and will cue poses in more depth. Ultimately this is your practice so you just do what feels good for your own body. There are no yoga police and there is no judgment if you need to take a break.
My aim is to help women stay strong and flexible throughout our lives and make sure that we can cope with the strains of our working conditions, childbirth, the menopause and our hectic modern day lifestyles that frazzle our bodies and minds. We can do this through practicing yoga poses, breathing deeply and allowing ourselves to let go and fully relax.
This is important. If we want a long, healthy life we need to put the work in now. We need to take care of ourselves. We deserve self-care.
I am too old.
Hah, this is an easy one. You are never too old for yoga. In fact, one of my main reasons for practicing and becoming a yoga teacher is to make sure I can slip as gracefully and painlessly as possible into old age rather than hobbling in with a suitcase of prescribed medication.
I only came to yoga at 30 after hurting myself running and cycling. I realised that pounding, shock-absorbing exercises no longer suited my body and I wanted something challenging but less wearing on my joints.
I had the slight beginning of a rounding at the top of my shoulders. Say it by it’s name – a hunch. My mum has osteoporosis and has lost at least 4 inches off her height over the years. I measured myself in my mid thirties and I had already lost half an inch. ARGH!! After regular yoga practice, which focuses on lengthening the spine, I managed to get my half inch back. Yes, that’s right, I am a willowy 5’2’’ once again.
I am sure many of you have seen this video before but I find it inspiring. Not just because of the physical transformation of this lady suffering with scoliosis but her willingness to try something new at the grand age of 85. It is never too late.
Yoga classes are full of wholesome, supple hippies and they will talk at me about Quinoa and their favourite incense.
I am definitely at least 17% hippy at the moment and am hoping to achieve maximum hippy-ness status by the age of 70 when I will live in Ibiza on my yoga retreat surrounded by crocheted soft furnishings and stray dogs.
However, please be reassured that most yoga students are Normal People. They have jobs and children and families and drink wine and eat chocolate and have no time to do anything, just like you and me.
When I set up the Mama Love Yoga London classes I wanted to them to be friendly, fun and a little bit silly. I experienced very serious yoga teachers at the start of my yoga journey so I wanted to provide something different, unthreatening and accessible to everyone.
I am going to look stupid.
I am afraid to say this is true. It is true for absolutely everyone. It is true for me. It is true for Madonna, it is true for Russell Brand. It is true for every yogi. Have you every seen a glamorous Happy Baby pose? Or someone taking a Lion’s Breath, tongue hanging out fully and panting? Or thought about what gravity does to an over 17 year old face in inverted poses? I can honestly say I have never noticed someone else’s funny yoga face. I am always too busy working on my own pose. Yes, yoga can look a bit silly but I can promise you this, no-one will be laughing at you.
On that note…
You are not too stiff, unfit, old or square to start your yoga journey. You will probably look a bit silly, just like the rest of us.
You are brave.
You are beautiful.
You are strong.
**CLICK HERE for more information about the YOGA FOR BEGINNERS’ WORKSHOP on Saturday 6th May at this link and start your yoga journey**