A Lazy Person’s Guide To Yoga

Getting motivated can be hard. There are so many better (read easier) things that you could be doing with your down time. Eating cakes, drinking cocktails, watching the latest episode of any show that is far away from the gym. It all sounds more appealing to me.

But, exercise is proven to be pretty important. Not just for our bodies, but also for our minds and moods. Studies show that physical inactivity can be one of the strongest predictors for aging unnecessarily. They also show that exercise can help prevent various physical diseases and can have profound effects on mental health.

The benefits of yoga have blown to the forefront of exercise regimes recently. The Yoga Journal lists 38 benefits of yoga.

“Yoga has enormous benefits for both body and mind,” says Mandy Scotney of yoga studio BodyMindLife. “It can increase strength and flexibility, reduce stress and anxiety, improve cardiovascular fitness, eliminate tension and fatigue, encourage better sleep, improve focus and clarity.”

So how do we get ourselves to the studio? Here’s a lazy person’s guide to yoga that’ll get you bossing every class.

1. Getting to the mat is the hardest part

This might surprise you, but getting to the mat is the hardest part. It’s all about motivation. If you can get there, then you can already congratulate yourself. You’ve already nailed it.

2. Ignore social media

“I remember the first time I stepped into a yoga studio, it was a bit scary,” says Mandy. “Everyone else seemed to be confident and super flexible, and I felt a little out of my depth. But new yogis should remember that the images we see on Instagram of super bendy, strong yogis doing extreme poses can be intimidating but that’s not what most yogis look like. And it can take years and years to reach that level.”

3. Forget everyone else

Yoga is about challenging yourself. No-one else. When you step onto the mat, forget everyone else and work at your own pace, and at your own level.

It’s important to listen to your body and push yourself as much as you feel comfortable with that day. Remember, getting to the mat was already the best thing you could have done for yourself.

4. Try a few different studios

Mandy recommends trying out different styles and teachers to see what works for you.

“The traditional styles of yoga are Ashtanga, which is fast flowing and strong, and Iyengar, which is more static and alignment based,” she says. “There’s also Bikram which is practised in a room heated to 37.5 degrees and teaches the same poses each time. Vinyasa yoga, taught at BodyMindLife, tends to be flowing and the sequences change. We also teach Yin yoga, which is a slow-paced style of yoga with postures, or asanas, that are held for longer periods of time.”

It’s worth dropping in to a few different studios and trying out a few different classes to find a style that feels good for you and a teacher who you enjoy practising with.

5. Know before you go

There are a few things that are good to know about yoga before you go.

“It’s really important to understand yoga etiquette,” explains Mandy. “Arrive at class at least five to ten minutes before start time so you can settle in on your mat. Always wear comfortable clothing that you can move in, and leave your phone behind! Also, when you’re in the yoga room, keep chat or noise to a minimum as fellow students may be meditating. Be prepared not to be able to do everything. Listen to your body and rest in child’s pose when you need to.”

6. You don’t have to be flexible

It’s a myth that you need to be flexible to do yoga. There’s not a person on the planet who is too inflexible. And the point of yoga is to practise, flexibility will improve as a by-product.

“[Famous yoga expert] Patabi Jois said ‘practice and all is coming,’” explains Mandy. “Flexibility is like that. You just have to keep practising and day by day, millimetre by millimetre your body will open up and you’ll experience change.”

7. Motivation comes from within

Motivation is hard to cultivate, especially in our busy lives. But there are a few things you can do to help motivate yourself. Try to create a routine so that you practise at the same time each day or week. Book the time out in your diary so you make it a priority. Try going with a friend so that you motivate each other.

Lastly, make a commitment to give it a try for a decent amount of time. There’s no point giving up before you’ve achieved much.

Alexandra Longstaff is a writer and stylist in Sydney. She is the founder of createthatcontent.com, editor for Festival Fans and has penned pieces for Grand Designs, AWOL, YEN and the SMH Good Pub Food and Cafe Guides. She likes salty air, friends caught in sunbeams, mountaintops, weird and wonderful homes and magical people with toothless smiles. When she finds any of these things she posts them to Instagram at @alexa_longstaff.