by Annette Young
I’ve been studying yoga for a great many years. My love of this discipline started when very young and it ignited when I was given a small book detailing some of the basic postures of hatha yoga. I began to try out some of the postures, cobra, the bow and dancer pose, and I loved them. Over time, my interest in yoga expanded and I surrounded myself with books trying every posture I could find. I looked forward to each session and could feel that yoga was really helping me. Importantly, yoga was a soothing balm even on those days when life was hectic. I loved how it made my body feel.
Then, I joined my first class. It was an Iyengar yoga class and initially, I wondered why everyone was using props such as belts so to be able to extend fully in the head to knee pose and blocks to make it easier to sit cross-legged. I did think that this was cheating just a little. There’s no shame after all in not being able to reach an advanced posture. But then, I realized that these props were useful. Everyone gained great benefits from using them, including me.
Self-taught, I had fallen into a few bad habits, I could reach many advanced postures but, I was fooling myself. I was compensating the real stretch so to reach these positions and my yoga teacher carefully moved me back to correct alignment. Wow. What a difference. Suddenly, it was like learning all over again, but I was reaping the benefits of a lesser stretch but getting it right.
Over the years, as I began to travel, I couldn’t find an Iyengar yoga class and so, I found the nearest class which taught Ashtanga yoga. This was so different, and I struggled to achieve what many of the other students seemed to be able to do easily. Yes, I know that yoga is non-competitive, but you can’t help comparing. When I set off travelling again, I found a hot yoga class and started to practice this. One benefit was that it was easier to reach the more advanced positions simply because the body is more flexible. In my heart, I still like the ways of Iyengar but, I realized that I enjoyed the challenges of studying other styles and that it added to the fabric of my knowledge and kept me keen.
The learning curve continued. Over the years, I have studied so many different styles of yoga and it works for me. Of course, there are the traditionalists who prefer to practice one style and that’s fine too. But, I like the learning process and so for me, fusing yoga styles so to gain the best from them really works. For anyone who feels that yoga is not sufficient for them, they should try out some different styles and keep their perspective fresh. It will probably ignite new interest into yoga generally.
Annette Young is a freelance writer, author and editor and has many years of experience training, presenting and speaking publicly to large groups of people. As a qualified trainer, she has helped many people learn the skills to present in the workplace or at large seminars. She is the author of 18-books in her own name and has ghost-written numerous books for clients worldwide. She is also a huge yoga fan and specialises in writing health-related content for clients.