Do you want to start a yoga practice, but have no idea where to begin? We ask Hannah Barrett, one of the UK’s leading online yoga and meditation teachers, some common questions
Hi Hannah, what are some of the benefits of yoga?
Yoga has a host of benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety, increased strength, flexibility and mobility, enhanced self-awareness, and improved sleep quality and immunity.
Is yoga good for mental health?
Yoga is a holistic way of life, nurturing both physical and mental health.
It teaches us connection and gives us the opportunity to study ourselves both on and off the yoga mat. Yoga invites us to tune inwards, giving us space to reflect on our behaviours, beliefs, habits, and practices. Over time, it helps us connect with who we are, our values and what’s working and not working in our life.
What beginner yoga poses would you recommend?
One of my favourite poses when I was starting out in my yoga practice was child’s pose as it gave me a moment of calm and quiet and allowed me to really connect with my breath. I also loved warrior III and downward-facing dog. Both of these poses are excellent for creating strength, length, focus and stamina.
Starting a yoga practice:
Do I need a yoga block?
A yoga block can be really helpful for beginners, however, there are other ways to modify your practice if you don’t have access to a block, including cushions and rolled-up blankets. And if you haven’t got a strap, you can use a dressing gown tie.
Do I need to be super flexible?
Yoga is about mindful movement linked to the breath. The physical postures are designed to purify the body and provide strength, flexibility, mobility and stamina. It’s completely OK if you can’t touch your toes; you’re still performing a forward fold! Flexibility comes over time as a by-product of yoga, not as a requirement.
What if I’m not strong enough?
Like with flexibility, you will build strength over time with a regular yoga practice. Pretty much every posture can be modified to suit your body and level so please don’t let a lack of strength put you off. In my new book Yoga Happy, it was really important to me that the flows within the book were accessible to all. I include a detailed appendix including ways to modify each posture to suit what you need.
Yoga Happy by Hannah Barrett (Quadrille, £20) is available in all good bookshops. Follow Hannah on Instagram, and YouTube or visit her website hannahbarrettyoga.com.
Want to know more?
- Yoga Nidra for better sleep
- 5 healing benefits of yoga
- 10 Books to better your yoga practise
- Everything you need to know about training to become a yoga teacher
If you’re practising yoga at home, here are our favourite accounts to follow.
For one-to-one guidance on your yoga practice, contact one of our yoga therapists.