Q. don't you have to be flexible to do yoga?
A. No you don't.
The whole point is to become flexible within your own fitness and physical spectrum. Yoga uses the breath to focus and still the mind.
We all know how it feels to be much stressed mentally.
Thoughts go round and round our head like a washing machine!
We are unable to stop the cycle!
Using our breath to listen to, watch and feel, allows our mental thoughts to slow down.
This has an effect on our emotions and central nervous system and ultimately our physical well being. Blood pressure can be lowered and a general feeling of empowerment can be achieved.
So the more mentally relaxed you become the more the body frees itself of stress and inflexibility through the art of breathing and letting go.
Q. What is Yoga anyway?
A. Yoga means ‘union’ of mind body and breath.
So what does that really mean in lay terms? Yoga is what I would call a natural form of exercise. By natural I mean we don’t need a gym, equipment, a specific area or be a certain body type or to have any knowledge of it to practice.
Yoga can be practiced by anyone, anytime, any place.
The key to yoga is the breath.
All good yoga classes begin with Savasana (the corpses pose, lying down in relaxation). The body begins to release not only tension but toxins through the controlled use of deep rhythmic breathing in the abdomen.
I like to think of the breath as ‘the bridge’ between the mind and the body. As we control our breath we also control the mind and that in turn allows the body to release is tiredness and toxins. Breath is the best de-tox!
If we all learned to breathe better and with conscious attention to its powers we would begin to gain a balanced outlook on life and our own powers within our life.
Yoga is a tool box of skills and the practical use of those skills.
First aid for the Soul!
Q. Do you have to be skinny to practice yoga? I am a size 18.
A. Yoga is not for skinny bodies! It’s for all bodies including yours!
This is such a common question and one I really feel strongly about.
I feel that some styles of yoga and the celebrities that think they discovered them have given yoga a bad name.
We have been overloaded with these celebrities and there diets, Guru-mania and the fashion accessories that go with their yoga mats!
Leave yoga out of the headlines please!
Yoga is for all bodies and that includes yours. Yoga is wonderful for the fuller body. It stimulates the Endocrine System to help flood the body with a balance of hormones. It stimulates the elimination of toxins through the massage of the eliminative organs and the flow of fresh oxygenated blood throughout the body.
All yoga postures can be adapted to suit your body type. Look for a good teacher and one that supports you. Check out a class first, notice who attends it. What do these students look like? Are they all thin? Are they all obsessed with their image?
Does the teacher look like they care about the type of client they attract. Look for a mix in a class and take the time to ask about the type of yoga in your health club and would it suit you. There are many types of yoga’s practiced in this country now.
Find one that suits you.
For a teacher in your area contact me or look on our directory.
The British Wheel of Yoga will also be very helpful.
Q. Do men go to Yoga or just women?
A. Yoga is very popular with men these days and the trend is growing.
When I first went to a yoga class in a local church hall 30 years ago with my mother, I felt so out of place. Yoga seemed to be only for women over 50 with a twin set and pearls or a blue rinse. Having said that there was always at least one quirky male and he wore the highly envied purple Lycra cat suit!
How things have changed. Men now dominate certain schools of yoga like Astanga. This style is dynamic and powerful in form. Males are attracted by this strong yoga and excel at it.
Sting is the perfect example of the good looking rock star turned Yogi. Many men in the music business have given up their rock and roll lifestyle to save their faces and their careers. It is no longer cool to look wrecked and worn out by drugs and alcohol fuelled parties and neither is it cool to be out of shape.
Men now take a lot of pride in their appearance and the onset of old age. It is so positive to see the Sports world begin to wake up to the good effects of Yoga and flexibility and to its injury limitation.
Footballers all over the world practice yoga in the knowledge that being able to stretch helps counter injuries in the groin, lower back and knees.
As a trainer to athletes and sportspersons, I know from first hand experience that men who commit to yoga commit for life. The benefits to the body are one thing the benefits to the mind are profound!
Q. Is Yoga a religion?
A. Yoga is a philosophy and a way of life, not a religion.
This is a good question.
When I started teaching yoga over 25 years ago, I worked in London and parts of the world familiar with yoga. When I bought my young family to live in the Midlands I had not expected that their ideas about yoga may come from the dark ages!
I tried looking for a church hall to start a local class. I was so shocked to have the door slammed in my face. The vicars here had the belief that Yoga was a Hindu religion and as we used deities in our practice that we were also devil worshippers!
I was so surprised at this closed attitude and even more shocked when a local made the sign of the cross in front of me as I passed in the street. The news had got round that a witch was in their sights.
Thankfully things have moved on and Yoga is being practiced and understood as an opportunity for positive lifestyle change.
Yoga is a way of life and is based on a simple theory; that we are what we think.
Our mind is a tool yet has become the master; Yoga helps us to take back our inner power and to use the mind as a tool. Our thoughts dominate the way we live, act, react and behave towards ourselves and others.
As Mahatma Ghandi said ‘if we want to change the world, we must first change ourselves’
Anne-Marie is one of the world’s authorities on Yoga and is an International Teacher Trainer. She is the founder of Sun Power Yoga and her school is now one of the Highest Accredited Schools in the World.
For information or to ask questions please contact