YOGA, IT’S MORE THAN JUST STRETCHING

6 mins read

Starting Yoga

As with anything in life, the “why” when we start something new is so important in longevity in that activity. Getting clear on your intention is key!

That’s a great way to motivate your starting point and also streamlining on “where” to start – does going to a studio motivate me? Does a home practice suit my schedule better (then perhaps subscriptions to platforms like Glo could be an option!).

A lot of people also have the misconception that to start yoga you have to be flexible – let go of that limiting belief, and embrace your body by being thankful for what it allows you to do. Everyone starts somewhere! As long as you’re breathing, you can practice yoga.

Mindfulness and setting intentions

It’s important to know that yoga doesn’t have to look a certain way and many different types of yoga that cater to different preferences. So, if you’re wondering where to start or how to start easing up the tension in your body, first set your intentions and let that guide you in figuring out what’s needed to support your body and mind.

Personally, the mental aspect of yoga is what helps me to ease tension. When I first started my yoga journey, the intention was to stay healthy and fit.

After many years of being a student of yoga, I realised the aspect I loved most about yoga was that brought mindfulness into my life. It taught me to stay connected with my breath so that I can be present in the moment.

So my advice for tensed up Singaporeans would just be to sit in stillness and slow down the breath, to get connected to ourselves again before hurling ourselves back into our packed schedules.

Resources

There are also so many meditation apps on the market now, so take some time to find one that works for you. Insight Timer, Ten Percent Happier are two that I enjoy.

Various yoga styles, discovering which ones work the best for you. Movement wise, different people also have different preferences on how to unwind/ release tension.

Some people prefer to get moving and sweaty and shake off all that tension, so adopting a more active style of yoga such as vinyasa flow/ ashtanga would be helpful to them!

For others, like myself, when things get intense I know I need to find an oasis of quiet and rest – then, restorative and yin yoga or stretch classes would feel like the best recuperation. For people who want the best of both worlds, some studios offer Yinyang practice, which typically starts with more of a flow before easing into a slower stretch sequence.

Nowadays, some studios also offer meditation and breathwork classes for those who want to find peace, but omit movement.

Yoga doesn’t have to look a certain way and can be simple!
If you don’t have the resources to get to a class, take some time to stretch your arms up in the air, stand up to do a forward bend, do some side stretches, neck rotations or maybe shoulder rolls while taking breaks in between work calls for example!

Most of us when feeling tense, tend to hold tension in their shoulders and hips, so getting those parts moving will help in a quick fix.

Ease in mind and body: it’s interrelated!

When we are stressed, especially when we hold the stress for extended periods, that mental stress translates to the physical body and that’s where we start to feel the aches and the pains. While movement like getting yourself to a yoga class can relief these aches and pains, in my own experience I’ve found that they work as “quick fixes”.

What has truly worked for me to find freedom in my body and mind is to take some time to understand what the source of my stress/ tension is, so that I can work on either an action that I can take, or if it’s beyond my control to find acceptance where I can.

Peace of mind translates into ease of body, so that’s something to consider too! The most effective way for myself to figure out what the source of problem is, is usually through meditation (sitting in stillness allows for clarity in my thoughts), and if that doesn’t work, speaking to a mindfully chosen friend and putting my thoughts into words also works miracles for me!

A great resource if this speaks to you, is a book called “the body keeps the score”.

Outtake

Yoga takes on many forms and it’s for everyone. It helps take away the mental and physical stresses away and allowing your body to do so much more than just running or lifting weights, allowing for better growth and recovery.

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