Yoga | Why it's my practice too

     It only feels right to do my first health and fitness post on Yoga, because I love it so very much. When you first begin a health and fitness regime, and I mean for the very first time like I did 2 years ago, you'll naturally expect to see physical changes and results in your body, but after adopting a cardio and strength regime with a healthy diet, I added yoga to my fitness routine and the game changed completely. Not only did I look better but I felt better, and for the first time as well as being able to bend into certain positions I could never have dreamt of doing (back bends and the most uncomfortable twists ever), I was able to clear my mind and focus on a wholly new me. That may have sounded way too cheesy for your liking but what can I say, yoga really has changed my life. So today I want to talk about why yoga is absolutely life changing and worth it, and why any negative press attached to it is completely false.

    Yoga is a Buddhist practice that originated in the Buddhist Nikayas and early Indian traditions. It only really become popular in the western world during the 80's, in the form of Hatha yoga. As well as having a multitude of meanings, there are several types of Yoga that the western world is yet to explore. However, despite having only explored the very basic types of Yoga here in the UK and across America, the practise still took the world by storm, and took me by storm just a year and half ago. It may seem like I jumped on the yoga phenomenon way too late, but with yoga there is no such thing as 'late'. Rather than saying you 'do' yoga like you 'do' Pilates, you would say you 'practice' yoga because what at first may seem like just another fitness routine to follow, becomes a journey of inner and outer improvement of the mind, body and soul. Working on that premise, it's never too late to improve oneself, and yoga couldn't be a more welcoming practice to start doing just that.

     I first started Yoga because I'd heard all the Victoria's Secret models raving about it saying how much it's changed their bodies and helped slow (for Miranda Kerr, halt) the ageing process of their bodies. Yes I know what your thinking 'when will she stop going on about Victoria's Secret!', well the truth is that back then I didn't take yoga seriously and never realised the dramatic changes it could make to my entire life. So as I watched their toned, petite bodies strut down the runway they persuaded me to start 'practicing' yoga, and add it to my current cardio and strength routine. Now its all well and good saying that you want to start yoga but actually implementing it into your routine and fitting it into your life is a wholly different hurdle to overcome. If you have bags of time then by all means, buy a mat, some yoga pants and get going, but for those who don't have all that much time (especially during the week) it can be a lot harder to actually commit to it. For me, I practice 2-3 times a week (which is the recommended amount); saturdays, sundays and wednesdays.

     Weekends are a great chance for me to amp up my fitness routine and yoga is a huge part of that, so I highly recommend trying to squeeze it in when your not working and have more free time. But really you can practise yoga anywhere, at anytime, there are no rules, just don't do it on a full stomach, it gets a little messy to say the least. My local gym has yoga classes, and I also have lots of yoga dvd's which I use a lot at home. Tony Horton's P90X has some amazing yoga workouts and Jillian Michaels also has a few yoga DVD's out too. But, my all time favourite at-home Yoga routine is the Ultimate Yogi with Travis Eliot. It takes you on an unforgettable 108 day journey which can easily be repeated and interchanged at your leisure. It is a little pricey at around £100, but it is an all-in-one experience and nothing is left out. Nothing. Abs is in there, strength training, even cardio (which is so challenging you'll break a sweat every time). Plus Travis Eliot is no ordinary trainer, he has pilgrimaged to India to practice Yoga so, sorry Tony, but no one can give you a better all round Yoga workout than him. Of course if you prefer the gym to your living room or garage, there classes are only getting more advanced, and its a perfect way to get more out of your gym membership. 

     Since yoga is no longer a novice in the world of fitness, it is often negatively stigmatised as religious devotion and this can sometimes make non-religious people feel isolated and think they can't do it. Well that's absolute baloney, as it doesn't require any form of prayer or church attendance (or abstinence for that matter) so don't think that it excludes you in any way. I couldn't praise yoga more for it's life changing, and body changing benefits. All those downward dogs, shavasanas, sun salutations and cranes really do pay off. So, if you were thinking about doing yoga but weren't completely convinced yet, I hope I've changed your mind. For those of you who haven't even thought about yoga yet I hope I've enlightened you enough to make you want to try it, even it its only once. 

All the links you'll need to purchase at-home yoga workouts are below; 

The Ultimate Yogi with Travis Eliot

Jillian Michaels - Yoga Meltdown


P90X 2

Bob Harper - Yoga for the Warrior

Hope this helps, thanks for reading, see you soon x

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