The best thing about practicing yoga isn’t the ability to hold a perfect headstand or to balance your body weight on just two arms. For all the flexibility and strength that you can develop through yoga, many of the biggest benefits of yoga and similar practices are mental.
It’s the lessons you learn about breathing that will help ease your stress and relax your body, and even beginners can reap these benefits. By monitoring and regulating your breath as you work through the asanas, or poses, you will help quieten your mind and increase your focus. The other wonderful thing about yoga is its variety. There are many different schools of yoga – hatha, ashtanga, yin and more – and even more places you can practice it. Hatha is considered as the traditional form of yoga focusing on movement and breathing, ashtanga is a style that is more energetic and synchronised with breath movements while yin targets your deep connective tissues and is slower and meditative. By the beach at sunrise, on a rooftop at sunset, in a bush clearing or on a clifftop – there are countless inspiring places to practice.
But there are so many other types of movement-based practices that also help enrich your body and mind. Pilates, Barre as well as many ancient practices such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong that not only strengthen the body, but centre the mind. Thai Chi’s gentle physical exercises flow from one posture to the next, promoting serenity and connecting the body and soul. Qi Gong, another martial arts-based practice, also combines Chinese medicine and philosophy. Viewed as an exercise to cultivate balance, Qi Gong focuses on the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water, to create flow in our bodies.