Not too long ago, I received a panicked email from a student asking me whether it’s normal to feel anxious after yoga. After all, wasn’t it supposed to be relaxing? Were they doing something wrong? Everyone else seemed to move effortlessly while they wrestled with uncomfortable knots that only got tighter with every posture and breathing exercise.
Now, yoga has a well-deserved reputation for improving well-being. It modulates stress by slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure and promoting healthy respiration. Plus, studies show that it reduces cortisol levels by triggering the body’s relaxation response.
However, this isn’t the complete…
Recently, I asked my Instagram followers what makes a good yoga teacher? Here are some of the most common responses:
According to these definitions, I fall way below par.
Now, I’m not the best yoga teacher in the world (although I don’t know how you’d quantify this, besides not breaking your students’ necks), but I’m by no means the worst. …
How did you discover yoga?
Perhaps you stumbled across a YouTube video or took a class on holiday?
Maybe your friend dragged you to a studio, and you’ve never looked back?
Were you inspired by a particularly beautiful photo or video on social media?
Whatever the way, people’s first-time experiences often come with bundles of enthusiasm. They describe love stories brimming with synchronicity — they didn’t find yoga, yoga found them.
I suppose, yoga found me too, but it was anything but the perfect romance.
How did I discover yoga?
If you don’t practise yoga, chances are you know someone who does, and they’ve probably chewed your ear off about how it’s changed their life.
Now, I’m sceptical by nature — I don’t believe in celery juice fasts, oil baths or breatharian monks who go without food or water for seventy years (it’s a thing). So, when someone makes a grand claim about how life-changing something is, I’m a little ashamed to admit, my natural reaction is to roll my eyes.
Before I found yoga, I had the same dismissive response as most people — the benefits sounded too good…
As a yoga teacher, one of the questions I get asked the most ( besides “do I have to be flexible to start yoga?”) is “what mat should I buy?”.
Back in the good old days, there wasn’t much choice — you had one size (small), style (purple) and material (PVC). It was a simpler time when yoga was only practised by skint hippies with humble tastes in church basements. But while this sounds fabulously esoteric, it was hardly practical. Old-school mats were sticky, environmentally hazardous and non-supportive for those with joint pain.
Nowadays, for better or worse, the yoga…
I spent most of my teens and early 20s waging war on my body, beating it into submission with extreme diets, exercise and beauty regimes.
I suppose extreme might be an understatement — I actually suffered from anorexia, bulimia and body dysmorphia (the latter being undiagnosed, but I’m pretty sure it comes with the territory).
The deadly trio of disorders ravaged my life for nearly a decade and robbed me of my formative years. Even now, I’m picking up the pieces. …
As a yoga, meditation and self-improvement enthusiast, it should come as no surprise that I love ends and new beginnings.
My obsession with reflection, in particular, started at an early age. Finishing journals, school terms and even boxes of cereal felt almost spiritual, like I was saying goodbye to the old me, with all her artificial and childish tastes, and making space for someone wiser. Someone who’d choose All-Bran over Lucky Charms.
I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for symbolism, and my tendency towards rumination makes the New Year especially exciting.
To celebrate the closing of a chapter, I…
I’ve been working with a therapist lately, trying to unravel my complicated relationship with vulnerability.
It’s not going well.
My problem, as I’ve since learnt, stems from a difficult childhood. I wasn’t abused or neglected in a conventional sense, but my parents were in an unhappy marriage and, understandably, too distracted to invest all the love required to raise a healthy, happy and well-rounded daughter.
I don’t remember much from that time (although I’m told it was awfully dramatic and violent) but, eventually, my dad left. …
I knew I pushed too hard when I couldn’t feel my legs.
If you’re a yogi with an internet connection, you’ve probably heard of Instagram yoga challenges, where practitioners are encouraged to post daily photos of designated postures, tag hosts and sponsors (usually famous online yogis and brands) and connect with other players via a specific hashtag.
The most successful challenges boast thousands of participants and encourage community support, meaning they’re a lucrative way to boost your post engagement and follower count. …
So, you’re thinking about starting a yoga teacher training course but feel totally overwhelmed by what’s on offer. I feel you — there’s a pick and mix of practices to choose from and studios typically design their own curriculums, which means the quality and content can vary dramatically.
To be honest, it’s like a yoga wild west out there. As the industry is mostly unregulated, many rogue and unaccredited studios are holding up wannabe teachers and making a hefty profit from selling substandard programmes.
You might think I’m fear-mongering (after all, yogis aren’t exactly known for their cowboy ways), but…
My name’s Ashleigh — yoga teacher and mental health advocate.