Is Yoga Just For Bendy People?

“Yoga is just for bendy people, right?” This is a common misconception amongst those who may not have tried yoga yet. Having heard this so many times, I felt compelled to write a short article on why yoga isn’t just for bendy people. For me, teaching people who are new to yoga is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I admire the courage it takes those brave souls starting out on their yoga journey to take the first steps and walk in the door of the studio. In reality this can be the hardest part of it to override the voices in our heads which say “I don’t know what I’m doing” or “Yoga is not for people like me”. Often it is when we do actually step out of our comfort zones, that we truly reap the rewards. Things don’t improve through doing nothing right?

Having introduced over a thousand nervous bodies to the practice of yoga, I have had the pleasure of teaching almost all body shapes, sizes, ages and abilities out there. The beauty of starting a yoga practice is that the benefits are almost instant. Most people sign up to yoga for the physical benefits but soon find themselves much calmer, less stressed and overall simply feeling happier with themselves (more on this in a moment). The deep stretching and strengthening that accompanies the physical practice helps to get rid of aches and pains, increase blood flow and stretch out tight muscles. This reduces tension in the body and allows the muscles and bones to align correctly.

As the physical side of yoga is an all over body workout, it doesn’t isolate just one area, it works on the body as a whole. I have lost count of the number of people who have come to yoga with bad lower backs that have been given exercises to work on this area without realising that the problem comes from their shoulder! Sounds strange hey? Here’s an example. When your mobile phone rings, you nestle it to your ear using your right shoulder. This builds tension and tightness in your right neck which can lead to a permanent lift in the right shoulder. The body always tries to bring itself into balance so if the right shoulder is lifted, then the left hip will hike to keep the balance of the spine. This in turn can kink the lower spine creating a weakness that can allow a disc to bulge. No matter how much conditioning we do on the lower back, until we release the neck, nothing is likely to change. This is the holistic approach that yoga takes which is why so many people find relief through practicing yoga.

But what about the mind? How does this work? Let’s take anxiety and depression as these are so common in today’s world. Anxiety is often caused through fear of the future and depression from regret of the past. In both cases the mind is consumed in future or past thoughts. In yoga we teach techniques to keep the mind in the present moment. Our breath is something that can only occur in the present so if we can learn techniques to focus our mind on the breath then we are able to become present whenever we need to, thus removing the source of the anxiety or depression.

This is just a brief dip into the world of yoga. Intrigued? Why not give it a go? Cornwall has a wealth of fantastic yoga studios and experienced yoga teachers no matter which part of the county you choose to visit. I run Oceanflow Yoga Studio in Newquay. It is super friendly and has stunning views overlooking Fistral Beach. With so many great accommodation options on our doorstep, why not organise your Spring holiday down here and get away from it all and book in some yoga classes? We cater for the complete beginner all the way through to the experienced yogi. You can find us at www.oceanflowyoga.co.uk

Article written by Tom Harvey, Oceanflow Yoga