You may have previously read my post on Ashtanga Yoga which I took up at the start of 2013, and> how I fell in love with it.  Well my love affair is still going strong!  I used to take part in yoga classes at my old gym but after I left to begin Personal Training over a year ago I had to try and> find a new class.  I also had to try and> find something that I could fit into my erratic schedule and> luckily I stumbled upon Yoga Express in Manchester.  I have been attending weekly classes there since around May this year and> it is fab!

I find it difficult to truly define yoga, as it can mean something different to everyone, yoga practice is a personal thing.  The word yoga comes from Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language, and> is often interpreted as meaning “union”.  Uniting the mind, body and> soul through your practice.  The benefits of yoga stretch beyond just developing strength, flexibility and> stamina.  Some of the postures also benefit the body internally by stimulating organs.  Psychologically yoga can help to lower stress and> anxiety levels, aiding relaxation.  For me personally my weekly yoga class provides me with 45 minutes of “me” time, which I feel can be lacking in modern society.  I have to admit to not getting involved or truly understand>ing the spiritual aspects of yoga, but through the steady breathing and> focusing on my practice I forget about anything else going on in my life.

There are a number of different yoga practices you can become involved in, including Hatha Yoga, Power Yoga, Bikram (Hot) yoga or the one that I have been doing – Ashtanga yoga.  Ashtanga tends to be a more flowing sequence with a focus on matching the breathing to the movements.  I feel it to be more demand>ing than other yoga practices I have had experience of and> it suits me and> my goals.  As mentioned I currently attend sessions at Yoga Express in Manchester, and> I can not recommend them enough.  Their strap line of “Compact Classes for people on the Go” really suits me, they are 45 minute classes designed to give you the full benefits of a 90 minute class.  I have previously found 90 minute classes to be too long, and> I find my mind starts to wand>er.  I think I would struggle to fit a 90 minute class into my current schedule also so these classes are the perfect fit. All the teachers I have had the pleasure of working with in these classes have really helped me.  They have all pushed me in their own way and> helped me to do things/postures I did not think I was capable of.  I am really seeing improvements in my flexibility and> I think it is helping in other areas of my training.

Yoga is perfect for cross training and> compliments any other training you do. When strength training the muscles you work and> grow in the gym, can be stretched and> loosened by yoga.  And the balance and> core stability promoted in yoga can help to provide a solid base for those heavy lifts.  This is also true if you are a runner or a cyclist.  Tight hamstrings can become a thing of the past!  For any sport yoga can offer the perfect antidote but even if you do nothing else, yoga can help to relieve any aches or pains suffered from repetitive actions.  Slouching over your desk or carrying a heavy hand>bag everyday. .

If you are thinking of trying yoga, and> I would recommend you do have a look at the different styles and> choose one that you feel will suit you best.  No one style is better or worse than the other.  Also have a look in your area at what classes are available, and> try them out – it may be that you go to 2 or 3 before finding a class and> a teacher that you feel comfortable with.  If you are in the Manchester area, have a look at Express Yoga and> give them a go, I’m sure you won’t regret it.