Why yoga is a bit like shopping for a dress

Have you ever been put off yoga because it all seems so confusing… I mean, what’s the difference between vinyasa and ashtanga, hot yoga, fitness yoga? What do terms like ‘namaste’ and ‘sun salutation’ even mean? I’d surely feel like a pretentious idiot for taking part without really understanding.. how does everyone else seem to KNOW?

I’ve wanted to start practicing yoga for a long time, and although I’ve dabbled in it a few time s over the years I’ve never committed to regular practice as I felt the mystery scared me off.

On top of this - the classes are SO LONG! I’ve been telling myself that I don’t have TIME to spend an hour and a half doing what I (naively) thought was just stretching. I even did a mental cost-benefit analysis - will the cost of my time make me as fit/skinny/lean as another alternative?

After spending this week reading about time, whether we spend it or direct it (read the post from earlier in the week here) I realised that if I wanted to do yoga I DID have the time, I just needed to prioritise it above something else on the to-do list.

So I finally took my own advice, I bit the bullet and went to a Vinyasa class this Saturday because it was on at a convenient time Wowsers! That was a workout, I awkwardly twisted into positions that I didn’t know humans could, I sweated and I was in awe of the women (and men) around me that were so incredibly flexible and made the balancing acts seem so graceful. I was most definitely NOT graceful, I can barely touch my toes!

And then there was imposter syndrome to contend with. The maniac inside my head told me that I looked like an imposter ALL the way through the class, for example:

“You’re not doing it right”

“You’re not wearing the right clothes”

“Everyone else knows each other”

“You stick out like a sore thumb”

Recently, I’ve been practising OBSERVING these thoughts rather than believing them (it’s actually quite funny when you think of it as a maniac living inside your head). So I ignored the maniac and enjoyed myself. I really enjoyed myself.

I will most definitely be going back, I can;t recommend it enough. It helps with ALL the things that us mums need - more flexibility, a better posture, relaxation, breathing, core strength, better sleep, inner energy, positivity. What’s not to love?

BUT the one thing I’ve been advised by my yogi friends is that yoga is a lot like clothes shopping - the first dress you try on might be the one you like the best, but you kinda want to go to all the other shops and try more on until you are sure. There’s no one size fits all - what is good for you might not be a good fit for me.

Vinyasa yoga - the one I tried yesterday - is a faster paced continuous flow yoga where you’re moving all the time and working up a sweat. I really felt it was equal in intensity to a body pump class, I didn’t feel like I was wasting my precious time at all.

Here’s some other types if you’re thinking about trying it out (this is from my own google research not expert definitions):

Hatha yoga is all about the basics in these slower moving classes that require you to hold each pose for a few breaths. Great for beginners.

Iyengar Yoga is about precision and detail. If you like to geek out about anatomy, movement and form, apparently this is the one for you.

Ashtanga Yoga consists of six series of specifically sequenced yoga poses, you’ll flow and breathe through each pose to build internal heat. More of a perfectionist type, with its stricter guidelines.

Bikram Yoga is the sweaty one. There are 26 poses and two breathing exercises practiced in a hot and humid room. All Bikram studios practice the same 90-minute sequence so you’ll know exactly what to do once you unroll your mat. 

Hot Yoga is hot like Bikram but it’s not limited to the 26-pose Bikram sequence. The heat will make you feel like you can move deeper into some poses

Kundalini Yoga is a more spiritual practice popularised by the likes of Russell Brand. It’s repetitive physical exercises with intense breathing, while also chanting, singing and meditating to bring you a higher level of self-awareness.

Restorative Yoga is a mellow, slow-moving practice with longer holds gives your body a chance tap into your parasympathetic nervous system, allowing you to experience deeper relaxation. Sounds lush in my opinion!

I’m planning to spend the next few weeks trying out a few different types and I’ll let you know how I get on! If you already practice yoga, what type do you like? What are your top tips for beginners?

Namaste (which by the way means ‘I salute you’/ ‘I bow to you’)