YOGA TO TAKE YOU HIGHER
There’s more to yoga than meets the eye, and whether you’re a lifelong yogi or yet to be converted, there’s never been a better time to discover its physical and mental health benefits. Here’s a little advice from yoga instructor, traveller and adventure lover, Claire, to help take your body and mind to the next level, on or off the mat.
“There are many benefits to practising yoga to complement any physical activity but particularly outdoor activities.”
Stretch it out
“From a physical point of view, yoga is a great way to improve your balance in most activities. Walkers will find it helps stretch the psoas and quads, climbers will benefit from increased flexibility. This is almost a no brainer: yoga focuses on stretching and strengthening the body so it will be beneficial.”
Know your body
“The other benefit you get from practising regularly is an increased awareness of your body. Through yoga you really become more conscious and aware of subtle sensations. This is hugely beneficial in terms of preventing injury: if you are more aware of subtle sensations you will notice if something isn't right sooner. It's also amazing for sports such as rock climbing where subtle movements and muscular action can be critical on technical routes. This is also true for skiers as well.”
It's all in your head
“Then there is the ‘mind stuff’. Yoga is an incredible tool to clear your mind from the constant chatter, the narration that goes on pretty much all day long.
Through the practice - particularly the breathing practises called pranayama - you can develop an ability to be more present. This is useful for any technical outdoor sport.
Rock climbers are often yogis (Alex Honnold is one example) and it isn't just for the physical stuff. It really helps you to be 100% focussed on what you are doing. It’s also been proven that meditation can create new neuro pathways in the brain; pranayama would be a form of meditation and yoga is a form of moving meditation. The mental benefits are huge.”
Claire's tips for getting Into yoga
1. Don't be intimidated by the "yoga world"! You don't need much: just comfy clothes and a mat. You certainly don't need to be flexible. That's why you practise; to create more space in the body!
2. Try different classes or online programmes if you can, so you can find a teacher and a style you like. There are many different styles, so do a little bit of research. If you are fit and you like high energy activities and sweating a lot, start with a dynamic class not with an hour seated meditation! Alternatively, if you like slower paced, gentle movements, go for hatha yoga.
3. And finally, don't push it too much: you don't need to be putting your foot behind your head like the people you’ve seen on Instagram! Practising yoga is all about being present and tuning in; the shapes don't matter all that much. There's no being the best when it comes to yoga, because it’s all about what goes on within.
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