Beneficial or just a fad? Spotlight reporter Emma Boys visits Yes Yoga to investigate why people practise yoga.
WHAT IS YOGA?
The practice of yoga is claimed to have originated in India, approximately 26,000 years ago, during the Golden Age. For many it has become a way of life, as it symbolises a natural state of spiritual enlightenment.
There are various types of yoga, including: Hatha, Yin and Vinyasa. Hatha yoga, one of the most common types of yoga practised today, is practised with the intention to align and relax the body, mind and spirit. When practising Hatha yoga, students will find themselves getting into asanas (yoga postures) in a slow and gentle manner, meaning it is perfect for beginners.
Another form of yoga is yin yoga. This slower style of yoga is based on the floor, and requires students to hold postures for longer periods of time. Beginners may stay in asana from 45 seconds to two minutes, whereas advanced students will hold the postures for longer.
Yin yoga stretches the deep connective tissues between the muscles, with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. It also aids the regulation of the body’s flow of energy.
If looking for variety, Vinyasa is a form of yoga where no two classes are the same, as an array of postures are used. The ‘flow’ style yoga allows students to increase the balance within their body and aids the prevention of repetitive motion injuries, that may occur if the participant finds themselves doing the same thing every day.
WHY DO PEOPLE LOVE YOGA?
With ‘yoga’ being one of the UK’s most Google searched words in 2016, I visited the Yes Yoga Studio to investigate why people love the practice.
Julie Gradley, student at Yes Yoga, discovered yoga aged 17 and continued to study the practice on and off throughout her life.
Julie stated: “I started with this class on a Tuesday morning, it’s coming up for a year in February, since Mia just opened the centre. I was lucky to find it because there aren’t many classes around Harlow.”
Yoga is another form of exercise for her. She mentioned that she wanted try something else outside of her normal routine of walking and aerobics, but didn’t want to join the gym.
Julie’s schedule means that she can only attend a Hatha yoga class once a week, but she revealed: “It’s the kind of yoga that I like. I don’t like anything too sort of energetic. I should do more like we all say, but it’s just fitting it in.”
Another student, primary school teacher Maria Bedford, mentioned that yoga was suggested to her as a way to manage her pain, after struggling with achy joints and muscles.
“When I spoke to Mia [founder of Yes Yoga] on the phone she seemed really friendly and helpful, so I thought ‘I’ll come and give it a go’ and haven’t looked back since”, she stated.
Maria visits the studio twice a week and participates in Hatha and Yin yoga. “I find them both good in different ways and I also practise at home every day”, she expressed.
Although yoga has benefitted Maria’s health, yoga has influenced various aspects of her life, she said: “I haven’t taken any pain killers since I started yoga, even though I was on quite a few beforehand, so I’d say that’s a really good selling point for yoga.
“But it’s also really good, not just physically, but mentally in terms of, it helps you to sort of de-stress, makes you less anxious and makes you less worried.
“I think it’s really important that people, who maybe think ‘oh I’m not sure about yoga, give it a go. Some of my friends said ‘isn’t it a kind of bit airy-fairy, hippie-chickie kind of thing?’, but they know I’m not like that at all, so they were a bit surprised I started doing it”, Maria added.
Looking to the future, the primary school teacher hopes to combine her love for teaching and yoga. She revealed: “I’m actually going to train to be a children’s yoga teacher, and I will be teaching here [Yes Yoga] later in the year when I’ve finished my training.”
PASSION TO PROFESSION
For some, yoga becomes more than just a passion, including Mia Shaw who is a yoga instructor and the mind behind Yes Yoga.
Speaking to Mia on the phone, I learnt that she was first introduced to yoga twelve years ago having always had a passion for training and the gym.
She went on to mention that, even at the beginning, she could tell if she’d missed a class, proving that yoga has a significant impact on people’s lifestyle and wellbeing.
Transitioning from being a yoga student to an instructor came as a result of being encouraged by one of her own teachers to pursue yoga as a career.
Mia said that in preparation to become an instructor, she went on a retreat in Spain for a few days to give herself some necessary foundations. Following that, she undertook eight months of training focused on teaching and had supplementary training to strengthen her knowledge.
Revealing that she knew early on that she’d love to have her own studio, Mia commented: “I looked around to see if there were any studios in Harlow and there were no kind of studios dedicated to yoga. In my head I could see it working, I knew there would be demand for it.”
“I didn’t realise it would be as quick as it was, so I’m really blessed with that.”
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION…
YesYoga website: https://yesyogaharlow.co.uk
YesYoga telephone: 07495 815045
Yes Yoga Studio
Unit 24, The Latton Bush Centre