Hey guys,

So, if you follow my blog you may have read my post a few weeks back about yoga ‘as a non-yogi’ and what you can expect – which is the unexpected! Taking up yoga on a regular basis has challenged me in ways I didn’t expect, both physically and mentally, but I can safely say I am now 100% addicted! I have now progressed to an intermediate class and I love everything that yoga has brought to my life. In this post I’ll take you through some of the ways yoga has changed my life for the better and the benefits of taking it up yourself.

Improved flexibility

This is something that takes a bit of time and won’t come overnight after your first yoga class. However, yoga is an amazing way of stretttttchinf out every muscle and ligament in your entire body! And it feels amazing afterwards! Sometimes I don’t think we realise how our lives and daily stresses and strains can cause our bodies to get all crumpled up and a good stretch can do the world of good.

Increased core strength

Yoga is all about the core and some of the poses literally pummel your abs without you even realising. I’ve definitely noticed that my core strength has improved which has in turn made my balance a lot better. 

Better posture

This is a biggie. Do you ever catch yourself hunched over your computer at work? Same! It’s one of my worst habits. Since I’ve been doing yoga regularly I have noticed I’ve been sitting up straighter and taller as well as standing straighter, without even really noticing or making a conscious effort to alter anything. Yoga works on all the ‘little muscles’ in your back which don’t usually get much attention in the gym, but quite literally hold you up! It’s worked wonders for my hunched shoulders.

Better sleep quality

I have written before about things like getting up earlier and using ASMR and music to help my insomnia but yoga and, specifically, the meditation session at the end of yoga class has had a noticeable impact on my sleep. Not only do I fall asleep quicker but my sleep quality is a lot better, for example I sleep longer and find my sleeps more settled with less waking up in the night.

Calmer mind

My day to day life and job can be pretty stressful at times and sometimes just using some breathing techniques or simple stretching from yoga helps me to clear my  mind and feel calmer almost straight away. Our lives can be stressful and it’s important to take some time out of the day to just breathe. I can go to a yoga class with my head full of the day I’ve had and leave feeling peaceful and like my mind is almost empty; totally clear of whatever has happened. There is literally nothing a yoga class can’t fix!

 

I would seriously recommend practising yoga and meditation to anybody, no matter whether you are a beginner or more experienced, trust me, you’ll see the benefits in no time!

Fancy taking up yoga but not sure if you can fit it in to your busy life? Why not try Desk Yogi? 

Their mission is to help people experience the wellness of yoga and meditation in their workplace, even at their desks! The programme provides wellness plans including 5 minute meditation videos to help you relax and get the benefits of yoga at work. Check out their website for more details about how you can get involved!

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One of my New Years resolutions for 2017 was to ‘get into yoga’ – whatever that means. I’ve been to the odd class before with friends but I’ve never sustained it for long enough to see any improvements or benefits. Lately I’ve been seeing toned women on Instagram doing headstands and various other tricky looking poses and I thought ‘I want me some of that’.

In January Paul and I (yes I dragged my husband along too!) started attending a weekly yoga class at our gym. We were lucky because our local gym has a brilliant yoga teacher who runs a really excellent mixed ability class and she’s fantastic about helping you get the very best out of your practice. As much as I am enjoying it, however, I would say yoga definitely does not come naturally to me! I’m a gym bunny, I love working out and lifting weights and I’m very naughty and very rarely stretch afterwards. Consequently, my flexibility is at around zero and I can’t even touch my toes! Now, a few months in I am loving regular yoga and I am starting to see the benefits, but I thought I would share with you a few things that you might find tricky as a ‘non-yogi’ like me trying to take up this hobby!

First up, let’s get out of the way. Even if you think you are fit, you are not yoga fit.

Before I started yoga classes I considered myself a moderately fit and kind of ‘sporty’ person. I thought I was quite strong, I can run a bit, I generally enjoy exercise so I kind of naively thought I was take to yoga pretty easily. Let me tell you; I may have thought I was strong, but I am NOT yoga strong. A few seconds in some of the poses and I was wobbling all over the place, sweating and breathing heavily whilst the rest of the class look serene. Yoga seems to just use muscles that you never use at any other time when working out. It is an amazing workout because it hits cardio, strength training and core stability all in one session. But, if you are new to it like me, don’t expect to take to it naturally.

Also, it hurts the next day.

The morning after my first yoga class I tried to sit up in bed and my body just wasn’t working. The aching was like nothing I’ve ever experienced! After a good training session it’s normal for the section of the body you have been training to ache but after yoga it was like my entire body was hurting. Good news however, after about 15 weekly classes I can confirm that the morning-after pain never again reaches the heights of the first session. I think it was just my body having a tantrum for putting it through something so unfamiliar and difficult!

They make it look easy.

I have re evaluated my initial goal of nailing the Insta-Yoga-Headstand. I can confirm that 15 weeks in and I am still NO WHERE NEAR a successful headstand! It takes time, really consistent practice and incredible core strength to do most tricky yoga poses. Right now I’m still working on touching my toes. But I am getting closer!

It might involve singing.

Yoga is a spiritual practice at it’s heart. Unbeknown  to me, it is quite usual for a yoga class to all close their eyes and belt out a couple of ‘Ohms’ at the end of a class! I love it, but just to pre warn you as I was slightly bewildered at my first class.

You will probably become addicted.

Despite all of the aches and wobbling – I am now a yoga addict. My Tuesday nights are not complete without an hour spent upside down! Not only have I seen an improvement in my core strength and flexibility, but also I feel like it really reenergises me and helps me feel calm. After a long day at work sometimes I umm and ahh about going, but afterwards I feel like the day’s stresses have melted away! I have even noticed a decrease in tension headaches since I have been going. I am determined to continue practicing yoga and get better, stronger and DO THAT HEADSTAND GODDAMMIT!

Are you a yogi? Or considering taking it up? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Anyone who works out or does any kind of sports or exercise knows how important it is to stretch. But how many of us actually do it?? Nah.

I would never stretch after working out, mainly due to laziness, wanting to get the hell outta there as soon as I was done and also kinda out of embarrassment that I can’t touch my toes (really, I can’t).

But – a little tip. I spent a bit of time looking up some yoga poses and also some cheerleading stretching (I used to cheer for my uni) and have began working towards these. By giving myself a challenge I have not got really into my stretching after every workout. Some of the poses are actually a workout in themselves!

Below is me working towards my ‘Scorpion’, a cheer shape which is a lot harder than it looks! It’s actually really hard work and I work up a proper sweat practising it! I started on the floor first trying to touch my head with my feet, then moved on to holding onto the wall, then once my balance and core strength improved I moved onto free standing and using a resistance band. As you can see I can’t quite hold my foot in my hand yet!! But I’m determined to get there.

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 This one is the more commonly known ‘warrior’ pose from yoga. This one is hard work too, but I always try and do it in the morning as it gives your body a certain stillness and focus as well as testing your balance and core. I have put this picture up because Zakynthos is much prettier than my gym in London!

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What is your favourite stretch?

xox

It’s no secret that I absolutely love my holidays. I spend an ungodly amount of my wages on squeezing in breaks here and there and it’s not an exaggeration to say that holidays is what Paul and I live for. This post is about THE BEST holiday we ever had, staying in this stunning villa on the Greek island of Zakynthos.

I mean.. look at it..

There is something truly special about not sharing your vacation. Having a pool all to yourself, waking up in the morning and doing yoga on the terrace, cooking and having your own space and peace and quiet was total bliss.

Artina Villa, Zakynthos is a stunning new build luxury villa on top of a cliff with panoramic views of the turquoise waters of Keri bay. It has 3 bedrooms, a large garden and this amazing infinity pool.  The interior is super stylish and they have truly thought of everything, the comfiest mattresses; a Bluetooth sound system; posh coffee machine; kitchen gadgets and even a hammock all to make you feel totally spoilt.  The owners even leave a welcome basket and fill the fridge up with generous supplies and some of their home grown and made produce. True Greek hospitality at it’s best.

We spent a week in this paradise. Venturing down to the small village of Keri occasionally to sample the local restaurants or small shops, however most of the time we stayed in the villa. It was a fair distance uphill from the town and beach which was walk-able (for the reasonably fit) but I would definitely advise a hiring a car for a hidden gem like this one!

For  a little slice of holiday heaven I cannot recommend this place enough. If, like me, you find villa holidays a bit extra special then it is the perfect place. And if you have a group then the price can be devided and is often not as bad as you think. Villa vacations are where it’s at!

I love using the Home Away app to see what other amazing villas there are in beautiful Mediterranean locations. 

xox