More than half a million people practise Yoga in the UK and over 3 million have at least tried it. It has become more of a lifestyle than a form of exercise. According to the latest British Medical Journal*, participants reported significantly higher well-being, lower perceived stress, lower body mass index and incidence of obesity, and higher rates of positive health behaviours. 47% reported changing their motivations to practise yoga, with general wellness and fitness key to initial uptake, and stress management and spirituality important to current practice. 16% of participants reported starting yoga to manage a physical or mental health condition. Respondents reported the value of yoga for a wide range of health conditions, most notably for musculoskeletal and mental health conditions.
Although there are many different styles of yoga, from the tranquil yin yoga to sweaty power yoga to room temperature Bikram yoga, the main aim includes physical postures, breathing techniques, relaxation and mediation. Yoga stimulates metabolism, supports lymph drainage and strengthens the muscles.
Yoga is helpful for managing a variety of physical and psychological health issues and is commonly used to support self-care and manage health conditions. It trains our strength, flexibility and sense of balance.
Yoga is also a very meditative activity: it gives us moments of well-being that can greatly benefit our mental health. It is particularly practical for most people as it generally lets you decide the intensity of your own movements.
However, we must stress that you should always consult your health care practitioner about how to fit yoga into a therapy plan.
All you need to start yoga is an exercise mat and comfortable stretchy clothes. Although a yoga block is often used as an aid for some poses, a stack of books will also do to job to begin with. If kneeling hurts your knees, try placing a small cushion under them. If you normally wear compression stockings, then you should also wear them during yoga, as is generally the case with most physical activity. The reason being is that they support the muscles and increase the removal of lymphatic fluid.
Online courses and video link classes are a good way to gain initial experience at the moment. When restrictions allow, you can take a free trial lesson in a yoga studio.