For a health blogger, I don’t post as much about exercise as I like. I did blog about my return to exercise after surgery but it’s something I find difficult to stick at consistently. My favourite type is yoga and pilates: I love the effect it has on my body and I feel so much more relaxed and strong after a session! However, I am seriously uncoordinated. As a result, when I go to in person classes, I am really self-conscious and I feel like I am completely out of synch with the rest of the group (is it just me or does anyone else always seem to go left when everyone else goes right?) So today, I thought I would share what does work for me when I do yoga, how start as a complete beginner how it can help your health (as always with scientific info) and some routines to get you started.
Make sure you keep reading to the end of the post to grab your free 2 week class pass!
How can yoga help your health (and your gut)?
Yoga and Pilates can have an amazing impact on your overall wellbeing; even when done in short chunks. Firstly, yoga can obviously be amazing for mental health- it’s one of the easiest exercises to do at home and even simple breathing exercises and a few moments in the child pose can help us feel a bit more grounded and calm ourselves. If you are also suffering from fatigue (whether as a result of other health problems or just struggling with energy), then there’s been several studies that very simple, low-impact yoga poses might help. One suggested that seated yoga for 20 minutes shows a marked benefits on chronic fatigue and pain. [/su_highlight] Remember, it doesn’t have to be high impact to make a massive difference.
But how does this link to our gut? Well if yoga can help us sleep better, fatigue and even pain; then of course, all of these things can make things with our gut too! If like me, you suffer with IBD- a study found: ” yoga intervention for patients improved quality of life and mental health, and influenced the colitis activity score. The effects persisted for at least 3 months after.” .” So now you can appreciate the many benefits of yoga, let’s chat about getting started…
How to get Started
Yoga can seem daunting and conjure up images of standing on a beach with one leg behind your head. However, anybody can do it and the important thing is to just get started. I will post some specific routines for different areas below but my top tips are:
- Start small- a whole yoga class might not be realistic and can also be offputting. I have found 15 minutes classes give me a sense of achievement and can be enough to have a real impact.While with 60-minute classes, I just lacked the motivated to do it. I now try to fit in 20 minutes yoga or pilates of a morning and find this is enough to settle my mind and give me a little more energy to start the day.
- Don’t worry about what you’re wearing– the beauty of yoga is that no fancy kit is required. leggings and baggy t-shirts work just as well. My only tip for equipment, would be to invest in a good quality exercise mat (rather than a generic yoga mat)- these are much thicker so can support you if you struggle with things like joint problem or are underweight (I found my hip bones tended to really dig into the poorer quality mats; making it uncomfortable)
- Everyone can do yoga! If you are really struggling with mobility, look into seated position, low impact poses or simple guided breathing activities.If in doubt, child’s pose! If I ever find an exercise too difficult, I automatically default to child’s pose: it helps gently stretch out your body and control your breathing. There’s also something really therapeutic about hiding away and a few minutes of silence.
When In doubt, Child’s pose (source:www.yogaia.com)
- Forget about fancy poses and learn how to breathe! Since I learnt more about abdominal breathing, I find it makes a huge difference when I am struggling with stomach pain. I always try to focus on this breathing during yoga.It helps massively with gut issues and can honestly say my stomach always feels much calmer after a session. This guide below explains how abdominal breathing works. If you are having a bad day, simply lying flat on the mat and repeating this abdominal breathing routine can help.
(Image taken from: https://www.saagara.com)
At the moment, I am using Yogaia an online yoga app. They have lots of completely free classes and you can also subscribe for a monthly pass (like I currently do) However, if you scroll down to the bottom of this post- the lovely guys at yogaia have given you guys a completely free 2 week pass (and no bank details or credit cards are required so there’s no catch or autorenewal!). Scroll to the bottom of this post to get your code and claim your freebie. Here’s some of my recommended routines.
Positivity and Seated Meditation: This is one is perfect if you’re low in energy or limited in movement range. You can simply sit and focus your mind for the day ahead.
Gentle Flow: I did this for the first time today and loved it- it consists of only a few moves at a slow pace; meaning you take the time to learn the poses properly and do lots of breathing exercises.
Pilates Express: Pilates is slightly different than yoga with a big emphasis on engaging your core muscles. This short 20 minute workout is great if you are feeling a bit more energetic and want to develop abdominal breathing. I’ve done this a few times now and I love how I feel afterwards! Although engaging your core and controlling your breathing can be tricky at first!
Goodnight Yoga- For those who struggle to nod off. Pop this on, get your lavender spray and a cup of chamomile tea by your bedside table for afterwards. Perfect.
Yoga Nidra– If you have low energy or didn’t sleep well. Super relaxing.
Yoga with a Twist– Perfect for those days when your gut is none too happy! A longer routine than most others with lots of deep stretches.