People sometimes assume that yoga is all about getting the perfect ‘yoga body’ or being able to do headstands. But some people will practise yoga for decades, never achieve either of those things and still experience deep transformation as a result of their practice.

The most important benefits of yoga are not about your body, but your sense of wellbeing and self-belief. Some yoga studios and teachers sell themselves mostly on the physical benefits of yoga. Try and find a studio with a holistic approach, such as Amethyst in Newbury. The best yoga teachers know, because they experience it every day, just how life-changing yoga can be.

Yoga allows you to be still

Our lives are often busy and fragmented, with little space to ever just sit, breathe and be.

We have stressful commutes, nursery and school runs to manage, long days at work and constant emails that mean we can never switch off. Even watching a TV programme or reading a book at the end of the day can feel like just another chore. 

But when you’re in a middle of a yoga pose or a breathing exercise, none of those demands matter. Yoga forces you to forget about outside noise and worry. It allows you to give yourself permission to simply be there, focussing on your breathing, your body and your mind.

The knowledge that this is possible is hugely valuable. You can take that ability to switch off away from the class and use it whenever you feel overwhelmed by your to-do list.

Just knowing that time out is possible means being able to cope much better with everyday demands and recognise when you need to prioritise time out.

Yoga helps you trust in yourself and your body

To practise yoga, you have to believe that your body is capable of getting into a certain pose, holding it and breathing through it. As a beginner, you might look at someone in a pose and think ‘I couldn’t do that’. And then, without you realising what’s happened, you find you’re in just that same pose a few weeks later.

Of course, some yoga poses can take years to achieve. But that doesn’t matter, because yoga isn’t a race. Your physical and mental strength increase gradually and, while you need determination, you don’t need effort in the sense of setting goals or pushing yourself.

The ability to achieve gradually gives you an incredible amount of trust in yourself. It helps you understand that if you believe you are capable, you will become capable, not only in yoga, but in anything you choose to do. 

Yoga helps you feel connected

In a world where many of us live alone, and where few of us have the kind of generational bonds we once did, yoga helps provide that deep sense of belonging that is a human need we once took for granted.

So much in our lives is competitive, but on the yoga mat, everyone is equal. All that you have, and all that you need, is your body, your breath and your presence.

Yoga grounds you by helping you forget your need to compete. It allows you to work alongside others without fear or judgement. That’s something we all need to be able to do to nurture high-quality relationships with our family, friends and colleagues.