I love Mondays. Yep that’s right, I can’t believe that I’m actually saying that! I never thought that Monday would become one of my favourite days of the week but it has!
Now to be honest, because I’m on maternity leave, all weekdays tend to merge into one and mostly I have no idea what the day is. However Mondays are my favourite weekday (after Friday of course!) because I get ‘me’ time on Monday night at my weekly yoga class!
I’m not a particularly active or sporty girl and have never been a big fan of exercise but I LOVE my yoga class.
I first discovered yoga when I was pregnant and I signed up to a local pregnancy yoga class on the recommendation of my midwife who was concerned about my stress related high blood pressure. During my pregnancy I loved the opportunity to take some time to connect with my growing baby and to focus on me and my health and relaxation. The class focussed on breathing exercises, gentle stretches and meditation/visualisation to prepare for labour. Each class would also end with a 15 minute yoga nidra (yoga sleep!) practice which always left me feeling amazing afterwards. Immediately after my first session I felt so much less stressed and I continued with the classes right up until my due date.
Once Baby B arrived, I was thrilled that my pregnancy yoga teacher also ran baby yoga classes and we started attending as soon as I had been approved for exercise by my doctor at my 6 week postnatal check. Both Baby B and I loved the baby yoga classes and it was clear that Baby B recognised my yoga teachers voice and the background music used during the class which I found amazing. During the class, each baby is laid on a baby “nest” (a changing mat with a fleece covered pillow on top) on top of a yoga mat. Us mummies then performed our yoga moves on the mat. Sometimes over the babies, sometimes holding the babies and occasionally we would do some very gentle stretches on the babies (not like some of the crazy baby swinging yoga you see on YouTube!!!). Of course because this was a baby class there was also the obligatory singing of silly songs! I was devastated when at 7 months, Baby B started crawling off the yoga mat and fussing during the class so that we had to stop going. However, having now attended yoga classes with my teacher for over a year in total, she suggested that I join her “normal’ beginners yoga class.
At first I was a little apprehensive (I’m really not a sporty girl and am very inflexible!). However, I couldn’t bear the thought of no longer having classes with my teacher every Monday so I nervously agreed and am so glad that I did!
The thing that I love about yoga is that it is non competitive and can be easily adapted to different ability levels. I believe that pretty much anyone can benefit from some form of yoga practice. There are different styles of yoga and the style that I am learning is Hatha Raja yoga.
For me, yoga is not just about physical exercise. In fact, the word “yoga” means “to unite” and refers to the fusion of body, mind and spirit through meditation, breathing and physical postures. I find that its therefore a great way for me to focus on me and allows me to relieve stress, anxiety and tiredness. For me, as a new stay at home mummy, this time is so important and definitely helps to keep me sane.
I have to admit that most weeks, I feel like I would rather go to bed than leave the house at 8pm to do a yoga class. However, I always make myself go because I know that I always feel amazing after the class even if I felt awful before it! The timing of the class is also perfect as Baby B is usually fast asleep when I leave.
One of the things that also surprised me about yoga is that it can be a great aerobic exercise too. My previous misconception was that yoga wouldn’t give you a cardio workout. However, last night a dynamic series of poses certainly got all of our heart rates up! I am also very uncoordinated so I worried about not being able to keep up or follow the postures. However providing I watch the teacher carefully the first time we learn a posture then I’m usually OK because postures are repeated often so once you know it you can focus on practising and improving it rather than learning it.
I particularly love dynamic postures which allow me to push my body and focus my mind also. I love standing series with my favourite posture being Warrior 1 because it reminds me of being pregnant with Baby B. I also love Triangle & Downward Facing Dog. I’m not so keen on floor postures though….
Since beginning my yoga practice, I have also noticed that I have become stronger and my flexibility has increased. Unfortunately I’ve not noticed any weight loss results but given the amount of chocolate I eat, that is hardly unexpected! I am sure that yoga combined with healthy eating would give weight loss results.
To anyone thinking about beginning yoga practise I say “go for it”!
Does anyone else practice yoga? Or are you considering it? Would love to hear from you!