Happy New Year Everybody!
The new year begins with a guest blog post from http://alysonyoga.wordpress.com/
If anybody is interested in doing a guest blog post please get in touch via my gravitar profile or drop a note to tell me how to contact you.
Thank-you Alyson for this blog post!
Guest blog post
Yoga’s been part of my life for so long I rarely stop and think ‘What am I doing?’ or ‘Why am I doing this?’ However, in writing this guest blog post, I’ve tried to put some of it into words to explain why I practise yoga, and some of the benefits it brings me.
I’ve been practising yoga for roughly half my life, attending my first classes when I was 17. I’d dabbled earlier than that at home with Mum apparently but can remember little of that. During university my yoga practice was on and off, but for the last 11 years I have been attending yoga classes regularly, at first once weekly, then twice, then three times, and then I took the plunge and started (and completed) my yoga teacher training and have been teaching since 2008.
But why do I go to classes and practice at home? For me, if I don’t do my morning stretches I soon start stiffening up. One Christmas I had family staying and routines were abandoned. After a week my neck, shoulders and back were stiff, aching and unhappy! A few days after getting back into my routine I was fine again.
My morning routine is only about 20 minutes long and consists of basic stretches that limber up most parts of the body and joints, and it seems to be the right amount for me to keep things ticking over.
If you are struggling to implement a daily routine start small. For years I talked of doing more yoga at home but I didn’t do any. Eventually I just set the alarm five minutes earlier than usual, got up and did five minutes of stretches. Gradually I increased the time and now it’s a regular easy habit.
So, I practise daily for physical comfort.
Less noticeably, I think the benefits are a calm disposition, a more peaceful state of mind, and greater body awareness. These are some of the less tangible benefits that a yoga practice can bring.
One of the things from the yoga teacher training course which had a direct impact was the starting of a pranayama (controlled breathing) practice and diary. I tacked this onto the end of my morning routine, and it’s something I’ve (generally) kept up. We sometimes focus mainly on the physical side of yoga, the postures, but the breathing practices can be very useful, and just as illuminating as to our current state of health etc.
Likewise, I have tried to also include a short meditation into my daily session, although sometimes this is pretty short! I find the meditation to be very beneficial in helping me focus, and just to observe my current state of mind and how distracted I am.
In some ways, the benefits are often more noticeable when I’m not practising yoga. When I’m not practising, for whatever reason, I realise why I do practise!
Currently I have a foot in plaster and the enforced inactivity is a challenge. However, being able to practise just 20 minutes of stretches makes me feel better – not only physically but also mentally. And it’s amazing what you can do even with a foot in plaster!
I’m still not sure why I started practising yoga though. Unless I can recall my thoughts of my 17 year old self I’ll probably never know!
[if you want to link to my blog it’s http://alysonyoga.wordpress.com/]