There are many benefits to practising yoga, including improved strength, reduced stress and increased flexibility. It is an ancient practice that works to bring movement and breathing together to promote mental and physical well-being.
Yoga therapy is an adaptation of yoga practice, catering specially for people with physical injury and/or health problems. If you are interested in yoga therapy and want to learn more, you can find a therapist using our advanced search tool.
What first made you want to try yoga and how did you get started?
I wanted to improve my flexibility and thought it would be a good way to reduce stress. I went to various local classes and learnt the key postures from my teachers. Initially I just enjoyed the relaxation aspect, but the more I’ve learnt, the more I’ve fallen in love with the practice.
What benefits do you see from yoga – mentally and physically?
Mentally, it is probably the only time I am truly mindful. I am thinking about my breath and my movement – nothing else. I find this me-time helps me to maintain perspective when my mind gets busy.
Physically it has helped me to be more in tune with my body. I listen to it more now – I know when I need to move, when I need to stretch and when I need to rest. I feel this has massively improved my overall health as I treat my body with more respect.
What is your favourite thing about yoga?
I love the mental and physical space it gives me. There’s also different yoga types/poses to suit your mood – for example if you need more energy, there’ll be a routine to pick you up and if you need to relax, there’ll be another set of poses to encourage de-stressing.
Also, I love that post-yoga feeling you get. I liken it to the feeling you get after a relaxing massage – your energy feels balanced, your body feels relaxed and your mind feels still.
Do you have any advice for someone just starting?
My advice would be to learn from a professional first. They can show you the moves in person and make modifications for your abilities. As well as local classes, you can look for yoga teachers online – on our site you can search for local yoga teachers who have shown us proof of qualifications.
How do you maintain an at-home practice?
After many years of learning from teachers, I now practice at home. I don’t feel comfortable making up my own routines yet, so I follow online classes. I pay a subscription to Ekhart Yoga, but they have free classes here too. I prefer this to yoga apps as it feels more personal and the teachers are great at explaining the moves.
To maintain my practice I have a goal of how often I want to do yoga a week and schedule it in like a doctor’s appointment. I make the practice special – lighting a candle and dimming the lights. Having the right equipment and props is helpful too as you don’t get deterred if you find something hard, you can modify with props.
Finally, what is your favourite yoga pose and why?
Tree pose is my favourite. It’s a balancing pose and involves you looking at a point in the distance to help you stay balanced. This requires concentration and a still mind.
Nothing quite centres me as much as this pose – I love it!