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Thinking about starting yoga? Here’s what you should know

When we look at videos or images of people doing yoga, we could be fooled into thinking that it’s for the fitness elites, the celebs and the gymnasts.

After all, not all of us can stand on our head and some of us struggle to even touch our toes. According to Johnny Templeton, the Studio Director at Prana Yoga Belfast, we might have the wrong idea. Here he shares his thoughts on why we should consider giving yoga a shot, and why the city’s newest yoga studio offers something a little different to the norm.

He says: “While it’s fantastic if you are strong and flexible enough to stand on your head, that’s not the goal of our classes. At Prana, we cater to all ages and all abilities. We focus on functional movement and authentic, breath-led yoga to help our students improve their daily lives and relationships, rather than getting that perfect Instagram shot or losing weight.

“The studio is a really chilled-out space that offers a welcoming, environment where everyone is comfortable and encouraged to go at their own pace. Our teachers won’t tell you to speed up, slow down, do more or do less. We want to give our students simple tools to keeps their bodies and minds sharp for life.”

If you’re considering starting yoga, here’s Johnny’s top reasons why you should stop thinking and start doing.

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Johnny from Prana Yoga Studio

Making Moves

Johnny reckons some of us might need yoga more than we realise. He says, “The reality is that most of us don’t move as much we should. We sit for long periods most days and this actually has detrimental effects on our mobility and mental health. We are a mobile species, so sitting at a desk all day can lead to tension and stress, which can cause chronic pain and affect posture.

“A daily yoga practice can help to strengthen and condition the muscles and joints. Whilst, there are no quick fixes to pain and inflexibility, the postures are perfect for opening the joints, releasing tightness and could help you to feel more at ease in your own body.

“And the best news? Yoga is different to other kinds of exercise so it’s brilliant for those who might have tried a fitness activity before but found it too difficult.”

Stress Buster

We’ve all been there - trying to manage a million spinning plates at once, from work to the kids to managing the house and all the unpredictable things in between. Johnny explains exactly why yoga has such a good reputation as a stress buster. He says, “I don’t need to tell readers that taking care of our mental health is incredibly important but beating stress, anxiety and even insomnia can be harder than it looks, given that in today’s world we’re always switched on.

“The Yoga we teach is an authentic, breath-led tradition. The very act of breathing can lower your heart rate and help you relax. But for me, it is all about connection. Taking time to connect with yourself is very liberating from the stresses that can overwhelm all of us everyday and over time this helps us manage them better.”

Brain Power

Did someone say Mastermind? Johnny explains that yoga benefits our brain too. He says, “Yoga improves the body’s circulation and this includes blood flow to the brain. It promotes growth in the prefrontal cortex, the region associated with response, memory and attention span. Even after a short 30 minute class, you’ll notice a heightened sharpness. We have an early morning class which will set you up for extra important days like an exam or an interview.”

Body Bliss

Johnny says yoga teaches us to appreciate our bodies. He says, “We don’t believe in a ‘yoga body’ but we do believe in appreciating how adaptable and resilient your body is. When I first started practicing yoga almost ten years ago, I wasn’t at all flexible but after just one year of classes, I could barely believe how much my body had developed.

“Fitness, and even yoga, has taken a dark turn on social media, where self-esteem is linked to how many likes you have or how well you compare to others. We provide the safe place for you to come and forget about all that.

“We’ve actually rolled out an initiative at the studio that’s really good for self-esteem called the ‘Karma Card’. Whenever you do a class you can get a free ‘Karma Card’, which you can pass on to anyone so they can come and enjoy a free class - you make them feel good by doing something good yourself. We think it’s pretty genius!”

Now we have the full lowdown, we’re feeling it - sign us up.

Offering both walk-in classes and monthly memberships, Prana Yoga Studio is located on University Street in the Queens Quarter.

For more information and to book a class, visit www.pranayogabelfast.com. For tips, tutorial and to join in the conversation visit @pranayogabelfast on social media

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