To mark International Yoga Day, we caught up with yoga teacher, personal trainer, author and YouTuber Shona Vertue, to find out why she recommends yoga to everyone.
Shona’s childhood revolved around gymnastics, and later dance, but found herself left with old injuries and a less active life. It was then she discovered the power of yoga.
‘I wanted to find something that had movement and flow similar to dance,’ she says. ‘I found that yoga was a combination of strengthening and calming, that nothing else offered.’
Her favourite sequence is the ever-popular sun salutation, which she finds simultaneously relaxing and energising.
‘The purpose of the sun salutation is to eventually prepare you for every single yoga posture, as well as helping to warm you up. You’ll also improve your breath-movement connection, which is key to feeling grounded.’
Try it now!
- Did you know? Many yogis mark the summer solstice by performing 108 sun salutations in a row!
How to find the yoga style to suit you
When it comes to finding the style of yoga that suits you best, or a class that makes you feel brilliant, she recommends trying a bit of everything.
‘The style that suits you will be down to your personality. Lots of studios have introductory passes which will let you try different classes and styles. Try and find what you do and don’t like, and then commit as much as you can, as its benefits rely on consistency.’
- Did you know? Yoga is the most viewed form of fitness exercise in the UK on YouTube
If there aren’t any local classes, or you’re a bit daunted, there are of course a wealth of instructional yoga videos online – although it’s worth making sure you’re watching a registered practitioner. Happily, Shona – who is the author of The Vertue Method – has plenty to choose from, and we’ve selected some of our favourites below.
What are the benefits of yoga?
‘Yoga offers something for everyone, so even if you have hypermobility or another condition that means stretching might not be ideal, there are still strengthening and relaxing elements to benefit you.
‘Generally people don’t consciously give enough attention to winding down, but it’s when you’re in a relaxed state that the body repairs itself. We’re often in a constant fight or flight mode, dealing with work, relationship stresses and other things.
‘People forget that exercise itself is a form of stress, but with yoga you don’t have the same issue. Some parts are rigorous but it always calms the nervous system down afterwards and aids recovery.’
Shona laments the attitude of aggression and constantly pushing yourself that pervades many areas of the exercise industry. But she’s pleased to note that the tide may be changing – pointing to the number of sports teams (including football and rugby) turning to yoga to strengthen and stretch their bodies.
The mind-benefits of yoga
‘Every time I practise it’s a body assessment and a life assessment. I focus on how my body feels and what emotions come up.
‘Yoga’s original intention is to help you achieve enlightenment, but for most of us it’s a way to increase and develop our self-awareness.
‘There’s a saying that I like: The aim of yoga isn’t to feel better, it’s to get better at feeling.’
Try some of Shona’s most popular yoga videos: