I have written about New Year resolutions in the past (see here) but as a reminder, it is estimated that one third of resolutions don't make it past January - and many others falter soon after. A real shame, I know, as we start out with the best intentions possible. The key reason for this failure is that the intentions are far too ambitious and simply not realistic. So as January comes to a close, why not set your sights on something you might actually achieve and most importantly enjoy and want to continue.
The older I get the more important yoga has become to me, as my family, friends and wider yoga community will know (with a number of midlifeedit.com posts on the subject too) and. With regular yoga practice my body thrives, both physically and emotionally. I know many others midlifers like me and also those on both sides of the age divide really do want to bring yoga into their lives but don't know where to start.
For me, the key to great practice is the teacher. And that's not necessarily the one with thousands of likes on their Instagram or Facebook accounts either as some of the best teachers don't even use social media. They don't need to! One of my go-to teachers is Dublin-based Ros Hyde. A former lawyer and mother of 3 young children, Ros embodies all that is good about yoga with her calm demeanor, poise, flexibility and serious core strength.
Ros's tips for bringing yoga into your life:
the real beauty of yoga is that it is accessible to all - all body types and ages as it brings us closer to our inner self. One of the best ways to start is by attending an 'Introduction to Yoga' course. It's a really safe environment and a good teacher will explain the different styles of yoga, show you some poses and provide you with variations, if needed due to injury. You will then have some idea about the style of yoga that might suit you going forwards.
What type of yoga is best me?
This really depends on what you are looking for from your practice. I practice yoga to calm my mind and bring balance to my physical body and so I enjoy a slower mindful practice with a focus on breathing and relaxation. This is hatha-style yoga at its best. There are many styles so try them to see what suits you best.
What should I look for when choosing a teacher and studio?
Studios will have their teachers’ profiles and qualifications on their websites. You may be drawn to a particular teacher because of a shared background for instance. It's worth trying a few different beginners’ classes to see what teaching style works for you. You will find a teacher whose practice and style of teaching resonates with you. Regarding studios - most provide a wonderfully supportive communal environment but again if you look around you will find one that is the right fit for you. It goes without saying that reputable studios will only engage qualified and experienced teachers.
What if I am very overweight?
Yoga is inclusive and certainly in the studios where I have taught everyone is welcomed and weight is not an issue. An experienced teacher will immediately put you at ease and will discreetly offer variations to poses when required.
What should I expect to pay?
Most drop-in classes cost between €15 and €18 per 75 minute class or thereabouts. Signing up to a course offers the best value. Most studios offer 'New to Yoga' deals with discounts on courses.
Should I buy a mat - if so what type?
Many studios have mats available to borrow or rent, but if you are intending on making yoga a habit then it's nicer and more hygienic to invest in your own. Many studios sell mats. For my new-to-yoga clients I recommend the Yogamatters Sticky Mat which you can buy online (about €20 inc delivery).
What's better little and often or fewer longer classes?
Every time you get on your mat you will benefit, be it 5 minutes just to calm the mind or 60 minutes a day. We have so many demands on our time that attending one class a week is a real achievement. Once you know what you are doing, and with the correct technique, you will begin to feel the benefits of your practice and be open to finding more time to get on your mat even during your busy routine.
It's not the yoga but the motivation that's the problem?
Motivation is always a challenge. Committing to a short course of classes will motivate you as you have made a financial investment So try to commit to an introductory course or failing that attend a drop-in class with a friend.
Can I practice at home?
While its lovely to create a sacred space for our practice in the home, this isn't always realistic. I light a candle and place it next to my mat when I practice. Where I roll out my mat changes depending on when I can fit in my quiet time! To maximise your time and practice, turn off all devices. It's easier to practice on a mat on a hard floor surface rather than carpet, but again, just work with what is available to you at home. There are great online classes and most offer a free trial period. My favourites include: www.yogaglo.com and www.eckhartyoga.com.
Ros's yoga journey
I started yoga in my early twenties when I was working in a legal role in London. I worked for 14 years juggling the demands of a senior corporate role and three young children and during these years my mat was my escape and my practice helped calm my mind, ground me and make me more resilient. I now teach yoga and meditation full time.
My own practice is flexible. I roll out my mat most days but it may be at a different time and for a different length of time each day, depending on the demands of the day. I have learnt over the years that even five minutes is to be cherished! Some days I manage an undisturbed hour on my mat, while other days I can be seen squeezed into the hall next to the hurleys and football boots! Then some days it’s unrealistic to roll out the mat at all. These are the times I see the fruits of my practice helping me be more present in my day- whether its cherishing a cup of tea or being wholly present with a friend.
Like many other yogis, I also carry some injuries, especially in my lower back. Some days meditating or just taking time to focus on my breath fills my soul more than a physical asana practice would.