It is International Yoga Day on 21 June, with events held all around the world on the days leading up to the event. Millions of people from every corner of the globe are expected to participate in the global event, from newcomers to the discipline to experienced yogi.
At Parks, we believe that yoga can offer great relaxation and wellbeing benefits, having previously covered the topic on our blog. Whether you’ve been practising yoga for years, or are a complete beginner, International Yoga Day is a great opportunity to gather with friends and participate in relaxing, spiritual activities.
To help you get started, we’ve chatted to a few yogi about their experiences with yoga, the benefits of the discipline, and a few tips about how to join in the fun.
People start practising yoga for a huge range of different reasons, from mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing to the social aspect of the discipline. There is no competition in yoga, and there are few rules, meaning that every individual can shape their yoga routine to their own needs and aims.
Here are the benefits that yogi and physical trainers see in their own yoga routines.
Chris from Origym, personal trainer courses:
The physical benefits of Yoga include increased flexibility, increased muscle strength, improved respiration, improved energy, improved vitality, cardio and circulatory health, and improved athletic performance.
These physical benefits improve an individual’s inner anatomy and physical appearance. However, people could easily find a workout that has the same or similar effects. Yoga is so popular because it is a source of archaic knowledge that rehabilitates the mental balance of a person. It provides oscillation between the mind and body. This is why so many people who are timid towards fitness have embraced its practices.
Cheryl from Yoga Bellies:
There are few fitness programmes that offer broad scope health benefits. Running, for example, strengthens your cardiovascular system and strength training builds muscle. Yoga is one of the few fitness programmes that can accomplish both and so much more.
1 - Mobility and Flexibility
Yoga can improve your mobility, meaning it can help lengthen those tight muscles and tendons. It can give you a better range of motion so when you move your body, you do it in the most efficient and effective way possible. Not only will you feel better, you’ll stop having those awful aches and pains.
2 - Strength
Most yoga positions recruit strength from your large muscle groups, your core muscles for example. As these muscles increase in strength, you’ll find it expands to other areas of your life. Your posture will improve. You’ll be stronger, physically, and thus able to lift and carry more than you used to.
3 - Reduced Stress
Yoga requires a few things that impact and reduce your stress level. The first stress-reducing component is breathing. Many yoga styles have a structured breathing protocol. When you focus on your breathing, it automatically lowers cortisol (a stress hormone) and it lowers your heart rate.
Hayley aka Fearless Fox Yoga:
Yoga develops strength, flexibility and mobility in the body and is great for improving posture, particularly if you spend time hunched over a desk. Breathing and relaxation techniques meanwhile bring a sense of inner calm, the perfect escape from the stresses of life!
If the above benefits have convinced you to start practising yoga, we’ve collected seven tips from the above contributors as well as a few others.
Chris from Origym:
1 – Breath
One of the most important aspects of Yoga is breathing. Yoga practitioners often say how about how breathing unlocks Chi. Chi is considered an important part of a person’s life force and it is awakened by controlled breathing. It also has many practical effects when practising on the mat. It can increase your balance as well as your concentration.
2 – Buy the Correct Equipment
Buy yourself the correct yoga equipment. Comfortable clothes that allow you to move freely are a necessity. You should also purchase a mat that provides you with soft cushioning. How can you relax when you are digging your knees or elbows onto anything but a soft surface?
Ann-See from Annseeyeoh:
3 – Remain Free of Judgement
When you are in a class, don't focus on what other people are doing. Don't judge what they are doing; positively or negatively. Most importantly, don't judge yourself. We spend too much time thinking about how others view us; whether they like us or not, whether we look ‘OK’ to them and whether or not they are better than us. Don’t look around at other people thinking “my Downward-Facing Dog doesn’t look like that!”
Cheryl from Yoga Bellies:
4 – Build Strength and Stamina
Try practising 5-10 sun salutations every day, as this will help to build stamina and strength over time.
5 – Increase Flexibility
Try hip opening postures such as Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose) or Eka Raja Kapotasana (pigeon pose) to open hip, pelvis and groin areas. These are easy and enjoyable postures which can be adapted for all levels.
Hayley AKA Fearless Fox Yoga
6 – Make Yoga Convenient
Find a local studio, close to home or work that is convenient for you to visit. You will experience the benefits so much more with a regular practice and once a week is plenty! Many studios offer promotions for new students, presenting the perfect opportunity to try a variety of classes and teaching styles to establish what best suits you.
7 – Use Online Tools
For those of you with time or financial constraints, there are also a number of brilliant online resources that allow you to stream yoga classes from your own home (free on YouTube or subscription for a fee) - all you need is a mat and a laptop.
These seven tips could help start you on your way to improving mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing through the medium of yoga.
And to help you create a peaceful yoga practice space, there’s no better addition than relaxing candles made of all-natural wax blends. You can find all our best-loved candles on our website. Just head over to our homepage to peruse the range.