Why Does Anyone Do Yoga, Anyway?
The health benefits are very real. But few understand how it affects the mind.
Back in 2006, doing yoga was not common at all where I live. Like a lot of people still do, at 14 years old I stereotyped yoga and yogis as loopy hippies with dreadlocks chanting in a forest.
As part of an award at school, a group of friends and I started attending weekly classes… We didn’t take it very seriously, snoring during Savasana and sniggering our way through OM’s.
At the time I didn’t understand it but upon leaving the class, I always felt a sense of calm wash over me. After a couple of months, we stopped going and I didn’t step on a yoga mat until five years later.
As I left University and returned home to Tunbridge Wells, I reached a point in my life where I was confused about my career path; what route to take. After applying for graduate schemes and attending endless assessment days, I still felt lost. Wise friends advised me to find something I love and pursue that.
Indecisive by nature (and probably nurture), although I researched teacher-training courses, I didn’t book anything until being explicitly told to by a friend. I booked it the next day and flew to Morocco the following week. Surrounding yourself with humans that warm your heart is such a treat, a breath of fresh air. What I learned, read and experienced in Morocco began to restructure the way I view the world and re-evaluate how I see myself.
I understand how it feels to be a novice, intimidated or confused to attend a class but I wholeheartedly recommend it; everyone has been a beginner at some point – you are not the only one. The tricky part is that one size does not fit all; I can impart my knowledge and experience but what resonates with me is unlikely to resonate with you.
There are different types of yoga, a huge variety of styles, thousands of teachers; who I am and how I teach is entirely unique. You may have tried yoga before and made the decision that it wasn’t for you… Maybe that’s your truth, or perhaps you’ve attended the wrong class for what you need. If you’re intrigued, I’d suggest taking 20 minutes and playing a YouTube video. Once you’re familiar and feel relatively comfortable, do some research on local studios, find a friend you can drag along and book a class.
Why is it important to do yoga?
To me, yoga is about self-acceptance and self-discovery. It is about non-judgment, not only of others but also of yourself, to feel comfortable in your skin.
It’s a rare chance to pause from the chaotic world we live in and check in with our minds, show gratitude for our bodies, be mindful and breathe.
It gives you a chance to surf the chaos rather than get drowned by it.
Once I discovered this practice, it was like taking a huge weight off my shoulders. Yes, the physical practice is fantastic and has transformed my body, made me feel physically strong but equally, my mind felt free; it’s not constantly weighed down by self-deprecating thoughts, mindless musings, and judgments.
Granted, there are days where I feel frustrated, upset but also days where I feel calm and content and not a day goes by where I regret practicing or regret letting yoga into my life. I hope that my students look back and feel the same.
By Kiri Rayner
Photo by Morgan Scott