I think one of the reasons why I stuck to yoga in such a committed way is because it kind of fits with my needs, lifestyle and values. Here are reasons why I think yoga is so easy to engage with and commit to.
- No need specific material, just leggings and top
This might sound silly but actually makes things easier for me. I remember when I was gym-ing or running, I needed a bag full of stuff – which is especially annoying when you are going after work, which means you have to be carrying with everything since 8am!
My “yoga bag” is minimal: a towel, champu, leggings and top. This simplicity makes it easier to fit it in everywhere, especially since no special trainers are required which saves a lot of space.
- No need for a specific place
Despite I much enjoy going to yoga classes in some of the great studios out there in London, the reality is that you can practise yoga anywhere. You just need some space to fit your mat, and off you go! There are not many activities like that, and this for me is a big plus because it does add so much freedom and flexibility, plus reduces the chance of excuses to not do it! (Oh crap!)
- It doesn’t depends on the weather conditions
This is also quite good for me. I remember in my running days, how painful it was to even think of going running after work, in the cold dark evenings. Who wants to do that? Well, I actually know a few disciplined friends who do it, but if I have to be honest to myself, I doubt that would be the kind of thing I could sustain long term; and at the end of the day, it is best to do what really works for you personally, your likes and your lifestyle.
Even going to the gym can feel a pain sometimes, which is why self-practising yoga at home is always an option available.
- It is an individual exercise, but with a strong feeling of community
Yoga is not competitive. While you will see other yogis master postures that you cannot even work out, that is just a source of inspiration. A trigger to motivate you more to get where they are.
Likewise, yoga is very much about listening to your body and being kind to yourself; so you can easily be in a class where the person next to you is sweating on a handstand, while on the other side the person is chilling in child’s pose. That is okay in yoga and takes off a lot of pressure to “perform”.
Because yoga also involves some kind of “philosophy”, there is also a very big and nice community around it – both online and in the studios. People I met in classes are kind, open-minded, sensitive and supportive. People I “met” online are inspiring, encouraging, insightful and positive.
- It is not specific to a fitness level, age or gender
When I see these cases of old people doing yoga and keeping up with their strength and flexibility, I get even more convinced that this can be a long term thing for me. Despite some postures are very challenging indeed and require lots of practise, the truth is that everybody can get started in yoga. You don’t have to touch your knees with your nose or do a handstand, you just have to go has far as you body allows you to, without forcing yourself, and rest assured that time and practise will do the rest.
- It starts easy and it finishes easy
That is actually something that makes life so much easier for me. Yoga is so appealing because when you start the class, it all starts softly – normally in a seated or lying position, doing some breathing exercises, before slowly building up to more active movements. So you kind of get sweating without even realising. That works for me better than some crazy aerobics or body pump classes I’ve done before, where you are jumping around 5 minutes after entering the class and already hating it.
Last but not least, the end of class meditation. After all the sweating and heart pumping, lying down in savasana and doing a biiiig lion roar is actually what probably we all would like to do after any session of exercise: letting the tiredness out and resting. That is what listening to your body is about, namasté!