Flexible in mind but not so much in body? Don’t know your downward-facing dog from your elbow but would like to sort out your chakras? Why not try your hand (and torso) at yoga, writes Adam Scarborough.
While fitness fads come and go (I’ve got my leotard at the ready for a jazzercise comeback) yoga has been around for more than 5,000 years and is still going strong.
It may have a reputation for being exclusive or just for those who Instagram their quinoa and go on master cleanses, but the benefits of practising yoga are so numerous that the NHS recommends it for people with high blood pressure, heart disease, aches and pains – including lower back pain – depression and stress.
It’s relatively cheap too: all you need to get started on your yoga voyage are some comfortable clothes (loose jogging trousers and a T-shirt, or more form-fitting spandex if you’re concerned about exposure) and most importantly a yoga mat (a basic one will cost from as little as £5 from your local sports outlet or online store).
Next, you need to choose a type of yoga to try. From Anusara to Vinyasa, for the uninitiated it can seem like ordering a curry – with the same risk that you might be left too hot and bothered to finish. For absolute beginners Hatha yoga is good: a gentle, basic style that’s a great introduction to the various poses and breathing exercises, while still being challenging both physically and mentally.
It is worth investing in some classes with a good instructor to learn how to do the postures and breathing properly; to find one near to you, a great place to start is the British Wheel of Yoga website (www.bwy.org.uk), which has a database of thousands of accredited teachers. If you can’t get to a class but you still want to give it a try, a quick search on Youtube offers thousands of videos.
Chances are, if you’re willing and flexible enough to try it, there’s a type of yoga out there for you!
Cost: Mats starting at £5 plus around £7 per session
Time commitment: Daily if your schedule is flexible
Addictiveness: Yoga-ta try it to find out!
Social or solo?: Not all cults are bad
Overall: Worth bending over backwards for