If you are already doing yoga, awesome, here's a high five. If you aren't doing yoga yet, I'm sure you have come up with plenty of excuses why you haven't started yet.
Yoga has been around for a long time and, in the 20th century, it started to explode in popularity in the West. Yet, many people still shy away from this beneficial practice despite numerous studies indicating how good yoga is for the body and the mind.
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I was once like you. I doubted that yoga had any benefits I needed and scoffed at the idea of even starting. Thankfully, I decided I couldn't judge yoga so harshly if I had never tried it, so I found a class and gave it a shot. Fast forward 12 years and here I am, still practicing and teaching yoga.
So, let's look at popular excuses and see if they hold water or if we need to reconsider:
1. I don't get it – I get you on this one. Before I started yoga, I had no idea what it was about and what I would do if I even went to a class. Yoga is about creating balance in your body and your mind. The yoga postures help you move more efficiently and help you overcome injuries while the breathing exercises and mind-stuff are to help us gain control of our thoughts and, in doing so, reduce stress and anxiety. Yoga can be woo-woo, or it can be practical; you need to give it an honest shot and see which style works for you.
2. I do other exercises already – Many people take their fitness seriously and want to maintain health and vitality as they age. If you love your workouts, yoga is not meant to replace them. Yoga is an excellent addition to your exercise routine because it stretches your muscles and creates more efficiency in your body so you can use your body's entire range of motion. A regular yoga practice will increase your strength and allow you to run further or help whatever your routine or sport without you having to train harder. Yoga is excellent for injury prevention so you can get your gains without spending time and money going to rehab.
3. I can't touch my toes – This excuse needs to go to the bin, full stop. No one has ever stated that a pre-requisite to come to yoga is you need to be able to touch your toes. Moreover, if you couldn't touch your toes, how do you put on your socks or shoes? You bend your knees, just like you would do in a yoga class. Yoga postures have many modifications for when we have restrictions in the body, so bending your knees is encouraged so you can do the pose without touching your toes. A great quote by yoga teacher Jigur Gor says, "Yoga is not about touching your toes, it is what you learn on the way down."
4. I'm too old/young to do yoga – Yoga is available to everyone regardless of age, despite what you may have seen on social media; young, slender women who are doing all sorts of crazy things. Kids, adults, teens, the elderly all can do some form of yoga. Different ages will need a different practice but there are so many different yoga styles and poses that there is something for everyone. You can do yoga with a chair, in a hammock, at school or work. Yoga is more than stretching, it is about training the mind, and this is something you can do as you age.
Yoga is unique because it is an activity that anyone can do throughout life. Whether you focus on the yoga postures, the breathing exercises, or training the mind, eventually, by practicing long enough, you learn that all three are interconnected.
Time to roll out the mat and give yoga a shot
Yoga is about balance and understanding who we are. Patanjali, one of yoga's earliest teachers, stated: "that yoga is the removing of the fluctuations of the mind".
When the fluctuations of the mind are removed, we are at one with everything and all that is, and we can start living an abundant, full life, content in ourselves, and how we interact with the world.
So stop the excuses, the doubts, and see how yoga will transform you into the best version of yourself you can be.
• Tim Seutter is a firefighter, yoga teacher and manager at The Loft Yoga and Pilates Studio, Whangārei.