Why I Enjoy Yoga.

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It was my second yoga birthday last week and last year I shared my story on how I got started (which you can find here!) and advice for those who are thinking of trying yoga for the first time (and you’ll find that right here!) So this time I wanted to share the five things that I enjoy the most about yoga.

1) It’s something to look forward to every week.

Now in my New Year’s Resolution post, I said that I wanted to incorporate more yoga into my home life but for right now,  I love having something to look forward to every week. I go on Monday nights after work so even though almost everyone hates Mondays, this softens the blow a little.

2) My progress is amazing!

I’m doing poses that I couldn’t do two years ago or even a year ago. I can straighten my legs in poses that I had struggled to do with a bent knee. With practice and constant progression in class, I’ve surprised myself and to me, that’s exactly what I want get out of learning any new skill. If you’re not learning then what are you doing?

3) I am “in the moment”.

I can only ever remember two yoga sessions I had where I couldn’t stop worrying about what was going on in my life and therefore, I didn’t enjoy the class. The majority of the time however I can completely zone out of my life for an hour and take every moment as it comes. I want to do that more this year and because yoga has already incorporated this element, I think I’ll find it easier to do it in other parts of my life.

4) It improves your gym workout.

I taught myself to sit up straighter on the rowing machine because of yoga. My posture when I’m doing weights is much stronger now because of yoga. My stretches at the end of my workout are now longer and more effective because of yoga. When people say it can change their performance in the gym, they really mean it.

5) It’s the start of a bigger journey.

I don’t know if I would have dived into the world of mindfulness and meditation  if it hadn’t have been for yoga. Mindfulness was really opened up to me in therapy but it was talked about during our weekly yoga classes from time to time. Meditation is something that we take part in at the beginning and the end of the class so when I do it at home, it’s second nature to me.

What do you love about yoga? Let me know your thoughts on all things yoga, good or bad, I want to hear them!

(Featured image source: unsplash.com)
(Top Image Source: Pixabay)

I’m taking part in #MoRunning 2016!

I’ve been saying from the get-go that I want to incorporate more fitness on the blog. Fitness used to be such a huge part of my life; it still is a part of my life but I’m slowly building it back up again, which is fantastic for me, I’m really happy about it. A lovely woman involved with the Mo Running team emailed me and asked me would I be interested in taking part in the Belfast Mo Running event and I said yes!

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If you’re not sure what Mo Running is (I personally had never heard of it until last week), it’s a charity run to raise money for the Movember Foundation. You might have heard of Movember because you’ll probably find a lot of men in your life growing their beards (or lack of!) out until the end of November and then shaving it off at the end. I seen it a lot last year!

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So of course I’m taking part in the Belfast event for the 5K. It’s taking place on Sunday 6th November (2016) in Ormeau Park at 11am for the 5K and 11:10am for the 10K. Registration opens at 9:30am and closes at 10:45am, and if you’ve ever been in the Ormeau Park car park on a busy day, you’ll know it can be a pain to park in, so I suggest getting down early!

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I’ve only ever done one 5K ParkRun which was great but stopping a lot did happen, so that’s why I’ve decided to stick to 5K this time. I’ll maybe venture into 10K next year though (or I might even have perfected loads of 10K’s by then!).

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If this sounds like something up your street, you can sign up for the Belfast 5K (which will cost £19.80 including the admin fee) or the 10K (which will cost £24.20 including the admin fee) on the Mo Running Belfast page. If you’re not from Belfast, don’t worry! There’s loads of other locations around the UK too and you can find out where they are right here!

Disclosure: I was not paid to write this post and I (of course!) will be donating money to the charity involved in this year’s run because it’s an amazing cause and I’m really glad to be involved.

All photography credit goes to Ryan Richards at FStop Photography for the photographs taken at last years Mo Running 2015 Belfast event.

So you want to try yoga?

I’m not an expert in yoga at all but if you read my first yoga birthday post, I have some quite fresh experience in getting into the lifestyle, so I thought I would give you some advice if you’re new to yoga or even if you want to try it, but don’t know where to start.

Do your research.
Do you know anything about yoga? Do you know what type of yoga you would like to do? Have you done it before? Is this your first time or are you getting back into it again? These are all questions you have to ask yourself while researching about the practice.

Find classes in your area.
I’m all for watching videos online, I think it’s a fantastic resource and with so much free content out there, I don’t think you should let it go to waste. HOWEVER, for yoga especially, I think it’s an absolute must to go to a class and learn how to do the poses correctly. You will never know if you’re doing it right if you’re watching it and trying to copy it, you could end up hurting yourself.

It shouldn’t cost the earth.
It doesn’t have to be expensive either; depending on the area you live in, you can find affordable classes with experienced teachers. I live in Belfast so I learn through Yoga Belfast who have a range of classes for beginners right up to intermediates, in a range of areas, and are affordable too. There’s some drop in classes and others were you can sign up for a certain amount of weeks. There are many other yoga companies in Belfast of course, but I haven’t had any experience with them.

Get the right gear.
You don’t have to buy a £200 yoga mat, you don’t have to spend loads of money on new workout clothing, but make sure you’re equipped to work out properly. You don’t need to worry about trainers because yoga is done in either socks or in your bare feet. Try to avoid very loose clothing but don’t go really tight either, try and find a nice balance in between the two. I personally don’t like the cheap foam yoga mats because they can slide back on the floor (First week I went to yoga, this actually happened, so personal experience is talking.) but I got a good yoga mat from ASDA and it wasn’t expensive at all. I’ve heard TKMaxx or Sports Direct do some nice ones too.

Practice makes perfect.
This speaks for itself really. You can’t expect to get better at anything if you don’t practice. You’ll mess up, you’ll fall over, you’ll lose your balance, your posture will need corrected, but you know what? That’s okay, if you learn with someone who is willing to show you the ropes and if you’re willing to put the effort in, even one or two times a week, then you will gradually get better.

I am very thankful to have introduced yoga into my life, I don’t know what I would do without it. It has helped me physically; I’m now more flexible and that is particularly helpful when I go to the gym too. It has helped me mentally; I still get stressed and I still panic but yoga helps to bring me down (If only I could do yoga in work every day, now that would be heavenly!). I believe yoga is for everyone, no matter what your age, gender, flexibility, fitness level, lifestyle, whatever it is. It’s such a good focus for people to get stuck into and I would highly recommend it to anyone. I hope my advice has helped even just one person, good luck!

 

How has my yoga experience been so far?

So this week seen the completion of my six week term of yoga that I signed up for at the start of the year. If you read my New Year’s Resolutions post, you’ll know what I wanted to try new things and practice more yoga so I signed up to a yoga class that had a six week term.

I went every Monday night after work and it was just down the street from my work, so it’s the perfect location and the perfect time. I wanted to try yoga more seriously because I wanted to become more flexible and be able to relax, because even though I have no house to pay for, no children, no “big” responsibilities basically, I still get very stressed out. I’m a huge worrier and I wanted to find something where I could relax, even just for an hour, and concentrate on my body rather than my head.

We do a deep relaxation and concentrate on our breathing for the first five to ten minutes at the start and end of each class. The first week, I made myself jump at the end because I dozed off. The second week, someone had to shake me gently to wake me up. Yep, I fell asleep during yoga. Everyone was lovely about it but it was slightly embarrassing. But hey, at least I was relaxed.

I can feel myself learning something new every week, we do a number of the same poses every week as well as new ones too but we try and advance them and stretch further with them. It’s not just a same old same old class every week, you do actually learn and feel yourself becoming better at yoga, which is what I wanted. I had tried yoga online before, but there’s nothing like going to a class and a teacher actually helping you into the pose. I went to the class on my own and it was actually a really big step for me. I’ve started going to more things on my own, and it is getting easier. It’s still scary but when I’ve been to most events, there’s always someone who will come and talk to you when they see you on your own.

I’ve signed up to another six weeks which start this Monday (but I’ll be going on Thursday night then going back to my Monday schedule) and I can’t wait to advance more in my poses. I can see a huge difference in the way I feel, even from just that one hour a week and apart from not wanting to wake up for work on Monday, I genuinely look forward to a Monday because of yoga. It’s my “me-time” slightly after the weekend and just to take a time out.