The Sparkle Coach: Yoga is the ultimate workout for the whole body
I have always viewed Yoga as a ‘softer’ approach to fitness and HIIT workouts, in favour of jumping rather than slow movements, and after all when you’ve little time you want quick, efficient and fat-burning workouts.
But when I was challenged with physical health issues, I found that my Yoga teacher training has fallen in line with my recovery journey, and I am not just on route to recovery but Yoga is transforming my health and fitness for life.
First of all, Yoga itself is more than merely just gentle stretching, as there are so many different styles and practices to suit all times of the day, schedule and to achieve optimal results whilst having a longer lasting effect than a lot of trendy cardio based workouts which often leave us with injuries, not to mention, adding stress on the body by boosting cortisol which can cause weight gain and muscle loss.
Finding the right Yoga class for you
I knew there were different names of Yoga from Hatha, Ashtanga and Vinyasa to 'hot yoga' and 'power yoga.'
But within those principles are a range of variations subtly down to the teacher and trends in the industry and world. Kriya and Yin Yoga, for example, almost ‘go against’ the Western timetables which typically fuel off high adrenaline ‘yang’ energy HIIT workouts. Whereas ‘yin’ is a more gentle, slower energy.
Sometimes traditional yoga styles have simply been renamed or branded to suit a Western audience hence some of the variations.
I think such classes can act as a great hybrid approach to this integral workout, making it more accessible to people like me who have been led to believe that I need to “go hard or go home.”
The biggest lesson I have learned from all classes as well as the other healing techniques I have learned from Reiki to Qi Gong is to listen to your body.
How to listen to your own body to follow the best routine
Shackled by my own self-inflicted power hours, when I enquired with my healing professor at Beyond Healing about what ‘routine’ works best, his core principle and challenge which he set me was harder than I thought.
“Just listen to your body,” he replied after I had completed my Reiki course and needed to go on a 21 day detox. I am learning Qi Gong which compliments my Yoga and years of bellydance.
As I do have a ‘power’ yoga,’ 'yang' Kundalini style energy, I initially searched for short classes and workshops to get it “all done,” having been born into this mindset and led to believe this is most effective.
I quickly learned however I was neglecting the core of Yoga which is meditation ie active consciousness within and again this isn’t an easy practice. Focused breath-work aka ‘pranayama’ is proven to boost immunity, aid digestion and allows us powerful pauses in the day so we don’t over-indulge or alternatively, over-exert ourselves.
There are also various forms of meditation from ‘mantras’ aka chanting via certain word or phrase which can be the seed of quietening the mind to body scanning and progressive muscle relaxation.
I found this particularly good for increasing my restful periods as we all know how important rest is for recovery and training our muscles.
Also, if you have trouble sleeping, you could try out Yoga Nidra which is all done lying down in ‘savasana,’ corpse pose.
Here are some of the Yogic benefits I have discovered recently:
Mind - Improves focus, reduces stress and enables a powerful workout
Body - Complements resistance training, eg. shoulder opening exercises and stretches.
Life - Not to live off adrenaline and anxiety but to try rest when needed
Work - If we use a yogic mind to approach all work then we work smarter and feel more energised through rest.
So many of us get trapped in the external world of excess and situations out of our control, that we feel unmotivated to exercise, breathe deeply and even when practicing Yoga more people are skipping the meditation part of the practice.