It’s fair to say that discovering a real, genuine love of yoga has been one of my absolute game-changers of 2018. I had given it a go last year, as a way to ‘stretch’ after a serious amount of high intensity workouts at Wellfest (an Irish wellness festival many of you will be familiar with!), and a ‘stretch’ was really all I saw it as. How utterly wrong I was!
In January this year, after a pretty hectic first week of 2018 on 7 night shifts, I decided to give yoga another try. I had found myself wanting something outside of my love of strength training, something a little bit more gentle, and something that would connect my body and mind in a different way. I’ll be honest, I was totally skeptical that yoga might be the answer. But I was determined.
So I book my first class of this year in Spring, at my now favourite place to come to the mat – Hot Pod Yoga Dublin, with one of my favourite teachers and now a really awesome friend, Julie Burke (click on her name to find her Instagram!). From that first class, I was hooked. They say you do really have to find your own way of coming to the mat for yoga, and I think that experience is totally shaped by where you try classes, and who teaches the flow. I made a big effort to try a few different studios around Dublin (although I knew from my first class with Julie I was a Hot Pod convert!), which helped massively to discover where my level was (aka beginner!), figure out how my body was responding to the new challenge of yoga, and which teachers I connected most with.
It’s kind of hard to describe the benefits I’ve taken (and continue to) from yoga to people, mostly because I want to put it into words that will encourage and inspire as many people as possible to try it. I’ve noticed changes in my body and mind that actually, words don’t really do justice to, and kind of need to be uniquely experience by everyone individually, but here goes.
Yoga is a breath-focused practice of movement, and particularly because you concentrate on the different poses you adopt during the class, it’s really hard for your mind to wander. Trust me, I have a mind that runs at 100 miles an hour, so if I can enter a class, connect and switch off during it, anyone can. Because you’re not focusing on all the responsibilities and deadlines that exist in your life before and after class, I found I really REALLY tuned in. To hear any thoughts that stray across my mind, and hear how my body feels on that day. And actually, the longer you practice yoga, the longer that awareness persists off the mat, to the point where for me, I’ve realised it’s made me a more reflective and calm person, one who manages her stress SO much better, using both breathing techniques and yoga flows a lot of the time, and just in general. I think the best way to describe it it as ‘mindful movement‘, which encompasses that awareness you gain and grow through your practice. It also create a real sense of comfort in my own body shape and size, which I didn’t anticipate or think was a big deal for me, but there you go, we all have insecurities!
Yoga also has brought me a LOT of physical benefits. It’s improved my posture, my strength training form and lifts, and two really important ones – my mobility, and balance! All of these benefits are key parts of how we remain functional and independent as we age, which is why I’m such an advocate for sharing the benefits with people of all ages. It’s a form of activity anyone can do, literally! There’s a bit of a false perception among the public that it’s a class of people doing headstands and cartwheels – genuinely, it is ANYTHING but. If I had a penny for every time someone says to me ‘Oh, I’d be terrible at yoga, I’m so inflexible!’ I would be a millionaire. Guys, I can’t even tumble, nor can I headstand, and I have never felt out of place in a class.
Finally, yoga has brought me both friendship and community. I’ve yet to meet a person through yoga, whether that’s a teacher or someone I’ve met at events or through a mutual friends, that I haven’t got on like a house on fire with. Yoga classes have also become a really lovely way for me to arrange catch ups with friends – extending the chat by grabbing a class together and planning a brunch, coffee or dinner date after. Discovering yoga has led me to a whole new circle of friends, and also resulted in some of my friends giving it a go and loving it as much as me!
So this winter, myself and my friend (and yoga teacher, among many other things!) Ruth Delahunty, creator of Yogaru, got together to bring you guys 12 Days of Christmas Yoga! It ran from December 1st to 12th on both of our Instagram pages. What we did was share 12 beautiful beginner-friendly yoga sequences each day, created by Ruth (who also created my logo, as well as her own entire business around her own Yoga Sequencing Cards – check them out on her website here!) It was amazing to see so many of you join us, and I love that we have 12 Christmas special sequences we can use to flow our way through the Christmas holidays and into 2019!
I decided to share each of them in this post so you can have them too, or you’ll find them on my Instagram here! Tag us if you try them out guys! All 12 are below!
Merry Christmas to you all, and I wish you the very happiest of holidays, and beautiful end of 2018. Namaste 🙂
Ciara 🙂 x
Day 1: Winter Sun Salutation
Day 2: Fireside Yoga Flow
Day 3: Wellness For Winter
Day 4: Christmas Rush Stress Bust
Day 5: Christmas Warrior Shopping Prep
Day 6: Festive Energy Flow
Day 7: Dancer & Prancer
Day 8: Post Festivities Refresh
Day 9: Christmas Travel Flow
Day 10: Christmas Tree Pose
Day 11: Christmas Morning Flow
Day 12: Christmas Dinner Digest