You take your first hit, thinking you’ll ‘just try it, to see what it’s like’.
Then you somehow find yourself doing it weekly, twice a week, maybe even daily; you struggle to keep the habit under control. Friends and family start to comment on it. You find it difficult to talk about anything else.
Sure, it sounds like I’m speaking about class-As, but it’s actually yoga that can prove this addictive.
Perhaps you started practicing because a friend invited you to a class, or because you needed a stretching practice to complement your marathon training. However it began, you know that you won’t be stopping any time soon.
Learning to nail that pose
Starting out with yoga can be tough because it seems like everyone else is so lithe and supple, while you desperately try to reach beyond your knees in forward fold (while trying to look cool and unbothered by the fact that your body is stiff as a board).
But the more you practise, the closer you get and it becomes a little challenge to yourself: one day, I’ll be able to nail that pose.
Yes, you’ll already have heard that yoga makes you bendy and flexible. What people might not tell you is how addictive it is to feel yourself keep getting bendier.
The day you finally get your fingertips to the ground in Uttanasana is a feeling of dizzy, glorious achievement, matched only by winning an Oscar or a Nobel Prize. You don’t want to stop there, though – you’ll keep chasing that joy through the next pose, and the next, and the ones after that.
It makes you stronger
If I had a dollar for every time someone said ‘yoga doesn’t do much, really – it’s just stretching, isn’t it?’, I would be rich enough to pay for another year’s worth of yoga classes. I like to get these people to join me at a class and watch them sweat through their 37th vinyasa.
Yoga is a full and incredibly effective physical practice, working and developing muscles you never even knew you had. Even a more restorative session will subtly start to build your strength, while a full-on Ashtanga or Hot Yoga class will leave you sweaty and shaking (in the best possible way!).
Like with flexibility, once you start noticing your body strengthening, you don’t want to stop: you want to see what muscles might appear next.
You never get bored
Yes, all forms of exercise are great in their own way, but let’s face it: they don’t always offer much variety.
Running: you start, you go fast, you go slowly, you stop.
Swimming or cycling: the same.
Yoga always offers you something new. It’s not only about there always being a higher level or a new pose to achieve, there are also so many different styles of yoga to experiment with.
Everyone tends to have their favourite (to me, Ashtanga is The One), but you can play the field a bit as well. Hot Yoga, Kundalini, Hatha, Yin… whether you want something restorative, some cardio, something spiritual, something that flows, there’s something out there to match every mood.
Variety is the spice of life (and yoga) – you don’t need to let yourself get tied down!
It’s not just that YOU get flexible, yoga itself is flexible. You don’t need to be super-fit, super-rich or have lots of time to practise – it’s open to all.
There’s a myth that everyone who does yoga is thin, gorgeous, as bendy as a pipe cleaner, deeply spiritual, vegan and teetotal.
Don’t believe the myth! No matter your body type, your fitness level, your lifestyle, yoga will suit you.
You can go on a Big Night Out and then onto a yoga class the next morning (although I don’t recommend going to a Vinyasa class on a hangover – not speaking from experience or anything!). You can do 10 minutes of yoga in your pyjamas at home, or two hours on a mountaintop.
How could you not want to keep on with something that fits into your life so perfectly?
That ‘yoga high’
Yes, the yoga high. This is a yoga myth you can believe: it’s completely true. Once you’ve felt it, you’ll do anything to feel it again.
It’s that feeling of deep contentment which comes at the end of practice, the elusive sensation of alignment between your body and your overworked mind and of being at peace with the world.
And that, my friends, is a high worth chasing (not to mention it’s much healthier and cheaper than class-As!).