Yoga can be something that you practice for your entire life. I started 20 years ago and I’m still practicing now. In some of the classes I attend as a student I see some of the people I saw when I first started going, students and teachers.
As you practice all aspects of your yoga will improve – flexibility, stamina, strength and remembering the names of the poses!
Over the last few weeks I’ve written a bit more about how to get better at yoga which you can read by clicking on the links below:
If you’re thinking of starting yoga then the best advice I can give is to get started! Go to a class and take it from there. You never know, you could find yourself still doing yoga 20 years from now…
I’m back from holiday in wonderful Wales, so classes this week will be as follows:
Thursday 10.00am – 11.30am at Cotswold Community Centre in Shire.
Thursday 6.30pm – 7.30pm at Sea Mills Community Centre.
Friday 12.15pm – 1.15pm at Avonmouth Community Centre.
Yoga classes won’t be running next week, that’s week commencing Monday 1st May. Classes will be on the following week, starting with the Thursday morning class at Cotswold Community Centre.
From week commencing 17th April there will be a new time for the yoga class at Avonmouth Community Centre. Classes will move to Friday, start time is 12.15pm and they’ll finish at 1.15pm. Cost of £5 stays the same. So the class next week will be on Friday 21st April, and every Friday from then.
It’s a lucky person who goes through their whole life without ever experiencing some lower back pain. It can happen for a number of reasons – injury, nerve irritation (sciatica), arthritis or sometimes there’s no easily identifiable cause. But whatever the cause, the result is pain or discomfort that is difficult to live with.
In the past people were advised to rest but this has changed in recent years. The medical profession now recommends trying to remain as active as possible. Being active can include light exercise, not just doing normal day-to-day tasks.
Recent research has shown that yoga can be an effective way to reduce the symptoms of low back pain. In a collaborative study carried out by researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the US, the University Hospital of Cologne in Germany, the University of Portsmouth in the UK, and Yoga Sangeeta in the US it was found that yoga may help improve function and relieve pain associated with chronic lower back pain in some people.
Some advanced yoga poses are not going to be a suitable way of relieving back pain. If the source of pain is a slipped disc then deep forward bends should be avoided. But some simple poses such as Jathara Parivrtti gently stretch the muscles of the lower back which can help relieve pain.
It is worth bearing in mind that trying yoga to help relieve lower back pain is not like taking a painkiller. The practice of yoga should be seen as a long-term approach to minimising any symptoms back pain and improving and maintaining your overall health. Regular practice will help to strengthen your body and improve your posture.
If you suffer from low back pain and you’re interested in trying yoga to see if it can help just remember to take things easy in the first few weeks. Explain your situation to your teacher so that they are aware and can modify things to accommodate you.
If you’d like to read more there’s information on the following pages from the NHS website:
Research into yoga and lower back pain
Low back pain
If you suffer with the pain and limiting impact of arthritis, exercise might seem like something that isn’t for you. But it’s the opposite that’s true. Exercise can be a great way of maintaining or increasing your range of motion and the strength of your bones.
Here’s what the NHS says about yoga and arthritis.
It’s not just the NHS. Arthritis Research UK undertook a study to see if yoga could deliver real benefits to people suffering from arthritis. Their study showed that practising yoga can help relieve the symptoms of arthritis and improve overall ‘back function’. The positive effects were felt within the first 3 months of starting yoga. Regular practice can help to maintain those benefits.
Of course, yoga is not the only form of exercise that can help and it might not be for you. The benefits of regular exercise for arthritis suffers include but aren’t restricted to improved range of motion, better balance and reduced stress. If in doubt, speak to your doctor about how exercise might be able to help and what form of exercise might be suitable for you.
From Wednesday 22nd March there will be a class at Avonmouth Community Centre. The class will take place at lunchtime, 12.30pm – 1.30pm, and costs £5. All equipment is provided.
I know, it can be daunting taking up anything new, especially something physical like yoga. You might be worried that it will hurt (I’ll get to that later). You might be put off by all the images of slim bodies in lycra. You might think you can’t do yoga for a number of reasons. But you really should think again.
I came across this podcast on the BBC – yoga after paralysis. It’s an interview with an American woman who used to be a yoga teacher, who then suffered a bad back injury and is now “80% paralysed”. She has no control over her feet, which makes walking pretty difficult, nevermind standing yoga poses. Yet, she practices yoga. If she falls over she just gets back up.
There’s a very yogic life lesson right there about endurance and perseverance. Just keep going, keep trying. It can be frustrating and embarrassing but it will make you stronger, and yoga should make you stronger. Not just physically.
Yoga is an holistic form of exercise. To get the most out of it you need to put everything into it. When you can practice, practice to the best of your ability. If you find one pose too difficult, do another. If you’re tired, practice some restorative poses. There’s more to practice than just developing flexibility – in fact that’s just an outcome of practice.
At some point during a class or your own practice something might hurt. Maybe your hamstrings are tight. Maybe today isn’t the day you’ll master headstand. But by practicing you’ll build up the mental and physical strength you need to overcome these obstacles. Or you’ll learn to accept that there’s always going to be an obstacle, but it doesn’t have to get in the way all the time.
Each week I write up the week’s yoga classes in my teaching diary. This includes the poses we did, the order we did them and some instruction about the practice. You can read the teaching diaries for the last two weeks by clicking in the links below:
Friday 3rd March
Friday 10th March
If you have any questions about yoga, fill out and submit the form below.
As classes at the Seamills Community Centre have been going well I decided to start a class in another local venue, the Cotswold Community Centre. I taught my first class there this morning, it seemed to go well. Everyone survived at least!
Tonight sees me teach my first evening class in Seamills. This class will only be 1 hour long, the aim is to give people more of a workout!