What yoga has taught me
When I first started to write this, it took me some time to remember when I took my first yoga class. For a start, I don't think I would have really known what the difference was between yoga and pilates - both were classes I took with my my mum at her gym while I was out of work! I would have been in my early 20's, and since then my body and mind have both changed vastly. I feel the yoga world has gone through many changes too. I wanted to write a blog post about what I have learned from the practice over the past decade, from being both a practitioner and also a teacher. If you have ever wondered ‘What does yoga teach you’, here’s what it’s given to me.
A STYLE THAT FITS YOU
Going to a daytime class with my mum at the local gym, it may not come as much surprise that I was the youngest person there by some way. Also, my mum had taken me to her over 60's yoga class, which I only leant after! As I mentioned, I didn't really know a lot about yoga, but I assumed it would be a little slow, with a strong chance of blowing off whilst bending over (which may not be far from the truth)! Actually what I really loved about those first classes was creating a better bond with my mum, and having fun! We'd laugh as we fell out of poses or when Sheila let one rip again - and I realised that more than anything, yoga can be fun!
When you first start a class in a gym, very rarely will you be told what style the class will be. It was only as I started my own yoga teacher training, I first learnt about the many styles of yoga you can find. On a basic level, each teacher will have their own style of teaching, and its so important to find someone you gel with. If you decide to teach I feel its so important to understand your own style, and stay authentic to you. People can spot the fraud a mile off! As you delve a little deeper in the yoga world, you will find more styles and classes out there then you'd ever expect, from the foundations of Hatha, to Ashtanga, Vinyasa or Flow - to some of the more 'out there', such as goat or Harry Potter yoga! We've all seen the videos that go round on FB right!
There's nothing quiet like putting a mirror up to yourself and having to take a long hard look at who you are, and for me yoga was the first step into this. Personally I've always really struggled to get to grips with who I am - the good, bad and ugly! As you grow up I think you often just take others opinions as gospel. Your teachers maybe tell you you're shy, or too confident, a bad listener or a worrier, and it feels like you're told what character you have. Yoga helped me discover a side to myself I really needed to focus on, acceptance of myself and acceptance of others for who they are. Now this might not be something you work on in your weekly class at the gym, but for me when I gave myself time to think, and time to meditate, it threw up a lot of these ideas and gave me the space to really delve into them - and to be clear, its something I think I'll always be working on as I change and grow.
THROW YOUR ASSUMPTIONS OUT THE WINDOW
I’ve been to classes and taught yoga classes where I have witnessed incredible men and women of all ages getting deep into their practice. It’s such a special thing to see people of all generations taking on poses that they maybe thought they’d never be able to do. Some of these people have been doing yoga for years longer than me, others are new to it and it’s the latter I’d like to celebrate today. The men and women who aren’t afraid to try something new for the sake of their physical and mental health. Sometimes as you sit on your mat and watch everyone come in you can't help but make comparisons. Will they be better/fitter/thinner/younger than me - but when class starts all those assumptions get thrown out the window.
Did you know, yoga was created by men - for men! Something that is now often considered solely for women, was actually created for men, for the masculine body and its needs - so it's a little bonkers really that many men wouldn't consider going to a class! As a teacher I am now finally seeing more and more men in class, and I couldn't be happier. More than anything I would love for yoga to loose many of the stereotypes that it has, and getting the fellas involved would be great.
This is something I have seriously had to work on. As I mentioned before, looking inward and giving myself the love I try to give to others, is something I have always had to work at. When I see others over worked, stressed or working through sickness I try to help them see how taking a break will help them - but taking your own advice is always much harder! Yoga does help me stay in tune with how I'm feeling, and it gives me the strength to know what my body and mind needs.
There are so many other areas of my life I know yoga has helped me, but I thought I would leave you with my thoughts so far. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this though, or if you are new to yoga - what would you like to get from your practise?
The Ginger Yogi x