Guest blog: Lauren Sarah Yoga – Having a “Can Do Yoga” attitude
When Lea asked me to write a blog for her site I thought about what I could create that would complement her beautiful attitude towards nourishment and food. When it comes to dietary restraints and intolerances, it can often feel as though the world is closing in on you – but she manages to pack her plates full of colourful, vibrant and nutritious ingredients – a truly inspirational lady.
So, taking this ‘can do’ attitude I wanted to broach the subject of one of my main loves… yoga.
There is a bit of a misconception around yoga that you have to be flexible in order to take part – the very word ‘yoga’ seems to conjure up all sorts of fears amongst people. There is a belief that in order to practice yoga you have to be able to contort your body into unimaginable shapes and bend like a pipe cleaner.
The word yoga means ‘to yoke’ or to unite. And to me the practice of yoga goes far beyond touching your toes or bending yourself in half. What yoga has done for me is actually re-unite my mind, body and soul, in order to help me reconnect with myself and find the courage to align with what I truly value.
Many of my students come to yoga for the first time having not done anything to connect with their body in many years. They are often surprised by what they notice just by doing some very simple movements. This can be a really awakening experience and enables people to meet their body where it is at, and begin to learn how much their body really does for them on a daily basis.
The result, as a student progresses, is greater trust in themselves, greater respect for their body and greater confidence in life both on and off the mat.
For many people yoga is considered solely as a form of exercise. And that is in fact how I began my practice. An injury several years ago meant that I couldn’t do the same level of resistance training I was used to, so I decided, as a last resort, that I would try yoga.
Within two or three classes I realised that I could actually work on my strength as well as suppleness, and ease discomfort from back ache and tight shoulders, I was also so much more body aware when I did get back to the gym and managed to work in a much safer and more aligned way to prevent further injuries. But I also gained so much more from it than just a workout.
I learned pranayama (breathing) techniques which became game changers when I was struggling with anxiety. I learned how to face my fears with poses such I never thought would be possible. I learned how strong I could be holding a warrior pose and how I could get my heart rate up and get a full on sweatfest with a dynamic flow. I learned how to listen to my body, how to accept it each day and how beautiful change, progress and growth could be.
I also learned that there is so much more to yoga than the physical postures – also known as Asana. The real yoga begins when you take the awareness you learn on the mat, and start applying it to everyday life. For example, Ahimsa – which means non violence – can be used as a way to remind yourself about kindness and compassion towards yourself and others. When I began to bring Ahimsa into the way I ran my business, the way I ate and cared for my body and the relationships I had with friends and family – my life changed in a dramatic way.
I genuinely believe that yoga is for everybody – and that means every body. There is a style out there for everyone – whether it is restorative gentle practices that help you unwind and sleep better, a power class that works up a sweat and builds strength, or perhaps a meditation class where Asana (the physical postures) are non existent and it is much more about mindset and space. It may take some trials to find ‘your yoga’, but keeping an open mind and experimenting is part of the adventure.
‘Instayoga’ has both increased the profile of yoga – which is an amazing thing – but it has also lead to some intimidation with people believing that they simply will not be able to take part in a class. Even now, when I go to a new class with a teacher I haven’t practised with before, I still get nerves and an element of fear over what to expect – so I fully understand the trepidation that can come with trying something for the first time.
For this reason I fully appreciate the effort it can take for someone to attend a yoga class, however I personally believe that facing the nerves and the uncertainty is hugely worthwhile. I for one am so glad that four years ago I decided to take a chance and step foot on a yoga mat for the very first time.
Have you been fearful of trying yoga or unsure of whether yoga is right for you? Hopefully this feature from Lauren has allayed your fears and you’re now considering giving it a go. Personally, I highly recommend Lauren’s classes but if you’re looking for more of an tester, why not join her next one day yoga retreat? Plus, if you sign up to her mailing list, you’ll get a free stress management ebook!