We all have an a year that in many ways we’d like to forget – an ‘annus horribilis’ as the Queen would say.
In some ways, 2017 was mine.
Whilst in many ways it was a good year – my twins finished their final year of high school, and have a bright future ahead – as a family we just had one of those busy, crazy, tear-your-hair-out kinds of times when a few things went pear-shaped. Not only were we juggling the reality of 2 x 17-year-old boys, and all that comes with that (endless hours of driving practice, girlfriends, social commitments, OP’s, uni planning), we were doing this around the day-to-day running of my husband’s plastering business and my clinic – some days I felt like my brain was going in several different directions. But during the year we also ended up with a stressful situation where my husband was owed a substantial sum of money (a saga that is still ongoing), and one of our boys had a very frightening health scare. And as a naturopath who sees A LOT of stressed out, tired and burnt out patients, I actually ended up much the same way by the end of the year – if I was lucky enough to have a break in between appointments, I had not much energy to do anything other than lie down in sheer exhaustion, and exercise (which is usually my sanity-saver during stressful times) was completely out of the question – I just couldn’t muster the enthusiasm.
It was because of my frustration with this situation that I realised I needed to do something differently. So I decided to give yoga a try, as a gentle exercise that I could do while I worked on rebuilding my adrenals. I figured that if I got to a class, at least I was getting a bit of movement happening – and it was better than nothing. Anything more strenuous than this, I just didn’t have the stamina for. So I turned up to my first class with really no idea what to expect.
I was pleasantly surprised.
I had thought the class might be full of all sorts of bendy-type people flexing themselves into unusual shapes, but it turned out to be very easy-to-follow. And the best part was – there was 15 minutes of just lying down relaxing at the end! Wow, I didn’t know that was part of the deal (and surprisingly, this is considered the MOST important part of yoga).
Since I’ve started yoga I’ve noticed a flow-on effect to some other parts of my life – I’ve become more flexible, and some of the niggly injuries that were bothering me and interfering with my ability to participate in certain exercises have largely disappeared. I’ve found that I’m more conscious of breathing properly when doing my other classes (I didn’t realize just how often I was holding my breath before!). I’ve also found that the meditation practice has helped me fall back asleep when I wake up during the night.
Another thing that intrigued me…
Unlike other exercise classes, yoga brings in some aspects of your life outside your practice. It is customary at the end of each class to farewell the teacher (and they will farewell you) with ‘namaste’. There are a few different interpretations of namaste, but essentially it means something along the lines of ‘my soul honours your soul, and I see the light within you’. Nice! I’ve certainly never finished any other exercise class with an acknowledgement like that.
Where to start – from one newbie to another:
Since I’ve noticed the direct and indirect benefits of yoga on my life, I’ve been recommending it to many of my patients, as I see a lot of very stressed, tired people in my clinic. The difficulty I’ve found, however, is that many people just don’t know where to start with yoga. There are many different types of yoga, and where should a beginner begin? What’s the difference between hatha, kundalini, vinyasa, or any other unusual names that you’ve not heard of before? And the thought of doing yoga can be quite overwhelming – simply because it is a bit of an unknown, and a little different from taking a walk around the block!
Thankfully, many yoga studios are offering ‘Restorative’ yoga, which I think is a great place to begin while you get the hang of doing yoga. These classes place an emphasis on helping you relax and restore your body, without some of the more challenging moves you might find in some other classes. From there, not only will you reap the immediate benefits of recharging your body, you should be able to get a feel for whether yoga is for you, as well as ask questions of your instructor if you aren’t sure of anything.
Here are some ideas for you:
There are some great studios in Toowoomba, if you would like to give yoga a try. Most places cater for beginners, and some run regular beginners courses to help you get accustomed to practicing yoga.
- Lesleigh’s Yoga – Lesleigh is well-known in our local area for offering great classes and a wealth of experience in both yoga and meditation.
- Fernwood Women’s Gyms run regular classes, with trained and experienced instructors. They also offer a class called ‘Bodybalance’ which incorporates yoga but adds some Tai chi moves and pilates for strengthening the core.
- Arise Yoga have a great focused studio in the centre of town.
And if you can’t make it to a class…
Luckily, the internet is a yogi’s best friend. There are plenty of online classes you can try, as well as apps for your iPad or PC. All you need is a clear space at home. But be warned – if you have cats or dogs, they LOVE you doing yoga at home, and will often try to join in. Something about the energy they pick up, I believe!
- Try Yoga With Adrienne, for some interesting (and often amusing) free videos
- Down Dog have a great collection of classes on their app, that you can access via subscription. These are particularly good if you tend to get bored easily, as the app can create about a gazillion different combinations of moves – meaning that you never do the same class twice.
- Yoga Studio is a great app, with a peaceful vibe and no distracting backgrounds. Plus you can do a variety of classes, even if you only have 15 minutes to spare.