Self-confessed yogi and teacher Emma Maidment explains why we should ignore many of the assumptions about yoga, and why it’s a practise that everyone can benefit from. Especially now.
When someone says “yoga”, chances are you think of a variety of pretzel poses. But the practice itself extends far beyond the physical. In fact, you could not use your physical body at all and still reach a ‘state of yoga’ within your body. Which means that physical limits and abilities have a lot less to do with being a yogi than you might think.
So in a world where it’s easy to feel disconnected, yoga is a wonderful way to bring all kinds of people together.
Despite what preconceptions you might have about this ancient practise, now might be the perfect time to roll out your mat and start. Here’s why yoga can benefit every kind of body.
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It’s all about you
According to ancient Hindu scripture The Bhagavad Gita, ”Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” Which means that whilst you might be sharing your practice with others, it’s you. Your mat. Your body. Your breath. Whilst your practice might look a little different to the yogi next to you, it is no more or less ‘yoga’.
Yoga is a state of being, not just a physical ‘workout’
Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuk’ and means to ‘yoke’ it’s often translated as ‘union’. This ‘union’ can be experienced in a variety of different ways. Some people prefer yoga asana (postures), others pranayama (breath work), or perhaps chanting, ritual or meditation practices are more your thing? Did you know the postures of yoga make up only one eighth of what the practice is all about?
Every body is a yoga body
I’ve been practicing yoga for over 15 years and teaching it for seven. During this time I’ve gone from being completely inflexible and weak, to strong and bendy. In my time teaching I’ve shared this practice with everyone from three to four-year-olds, to elderly people in their 70’s and 80’s. I’ve worked with people who have MS, cancer, amputees and those who are physically disabled. All of whom are able to experience this practice in its many forms, in their own way.
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You do not need to be able to touch your toes or put your leg behind your head to experience yoga. I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve been told “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible enough, I can’t even touch my toes”. To which I always reply “so bend your knees”.
With the correct guidance, every aspect of this practice can be modified to suit you and your individual needs. Although this practice ultimately teaches unity, it is through our individual journeys that we get there.
Lose the comparisons
So, if you’ve been sitting back watching yoga videos on YouTube thinking ‘There’s no way I can do that’. I’m here to tell you that you can. It might not look exactly the same as the person on the video, but that’s the point! It will be your unique expression. It’s about you, your body and your experience. Nobody else. Your body is a yoga body, if you’re willing to give it a go. As some might say… JUST DO IT!
This article is brought to you by rebel and Nike. If you’re curious to see what the physical practice of yoga is all about check out our three-part video series where we’ll explore how this practice can help you stretch, move and energise.