Think you know yoga? (Well think again)

Five things you need to know about yoga


TODAY on Pouting In Heels, Friday Five returns and boy oh boy, is it a good one!

I am absolutely chuffed to bits, delighted, thrilled, excited (you get the picture) to have a dear friend of mine sharing some of her amazing knowledge with us all today which I think you are going to love.

Zaz who has a wonderful and heartwarming blog Mama and More! is an incredible lady and I’m very lucky to be able to call her a friend.

She’s a true inspiration to me (and many others) because she has a heart that is big and loving, wisdom that is far beyond her years and a joie de vivre that makes spending time with her such a pleasure.

She’s also incredible at yoga. And i mean INCREDIBLE. (Just check out her Instagram feed and you’ll see exactly what I mean!)

Many years ago I used to attend a yoga class and enjoyed it. But then one day an advanced teacher took over my beginner’s class, tried to get us all to do headstands which felt impossible and after feeling like a total fool, sadly I never went back.

However since meeting Zaz and following her yoga journey (she’s now training to be a yoga instructor, amazing huh?) I’ve slowly but surely come around to the thinking that I want to do it again. To take up yoga.

And so with that in mind I asked her to share her knowledge with us all and start right at the very beginning. To tell us what yoga is all about, what it isn’t and what it can do for us.

If you’re previously thought yoga is for others and not for you or haven’t the faintest what it’s about all, then I seriously urge you to read this guest post because I think it may just surprise you.

So settle down with me, grab a green tea (we’re talking about health after all) and prepare to be welcomed to the world of yoga. Zaz, my darling, it’s over to you….


 Yoga – what you NEED to know


Yoga isn’t just for bendy super-flexible people

People are either drawn to yoga or intimidated by the postures or ‘asanas’, and the most common misconception that I hear is “no, I’m not flexible enough to do yoga”. Here’s a secret – if you can breathe in and out, you ARE doing yoga already!

Yoga is not solely about the postures, it is also about breathing (pranayama), meditation and practicing things like compassion and mindfulness or awareness. People with all sorts of body types, shapes and sizes practice yoga, there are no boundaries!

That said, you probably do want to know whether the physical aspect of yoga is for you, and any good yoga teacher will always be able to suggest different variations on a pose to suit your level and ability. There should never be any judgement or competitiveness in yoga – it is an incredibly personal practice.

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It’s ok to bend your knees if the floor feels far away at first!

You may also surprise yourself!  My husband who declares himself totally inflexible can easily fold himself into lotus cross legged position, while for me it feels like torture!

Every one’s body is different, and will also feel differently at different times of day or from one day to the next.  While in some poses you will need to take a beginner option, maybe even forever, at other times you will be prepared to go a little further and you may just surprise yourself.

My two biggest tips are:
i) breathe – we naturally hold our breath when stressed or fearful, whether in a difficult pose or in life. When you are finding something hard, exhale – you may not even realise that you are holding your breath, and will be amazed at how your breath can help take you deeper.  This goes for in life as well as on your yoga mat!

ii) be playful and just try – as I said before, yoga isn’t about judgement, and some things that seem impossible when you have a go you really may end up surprising yourself. And if you fall over in the middle of a packed class (as I have a few times in my practice!), smile, laugh, and get back on the mat.  Take yourself lightly, you have nothing to lose.


Yoga isn’t an ‘easy option’

This is something that many people assume – and sorry to stereotype, but especially men. In reality, as with any form of physical practice, it can be as easy or as challenging as you make it.

Certain styles of yoga suit different tastes or needs – there are restorative yoga classes, or more challenging dynamic styles like Astanga or Vinyasa flow. I wrote a post on my blog a few weeks ago about some of the different styles of yoga which may be useful.


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No, yoga is NOT a cult

When you go to a yoga class or watch a DVD you may hear the teacher telling you to do a Sun Salutation. This does not mean that you are actually worshipping a sun god or anything similar!  It is simply the name given to a series of movements, traditionally done in the morning, but which form the basis for many beginning yoga sequences.

You may be asked to have your hands in a prayer pose, or to ‘set an intention’ or positive thoughts to dedicate your yoga practice to. Don’t worry! No-one is expecting you to change or even have religious beliefs in yoga.

Here’s the thing – yoga began in India many thousands of years ago, and originated as a spiritual practice. The physical positions are one part of yoga (along with breathing, meditation, behaving in compassionate ways, being good to your body in what you eat, and finding your true inner self). You can take from your yoga practice and yoga journey whatever is right for you, but yoga is truly for everyone.


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You may hear some funny things in a yoga class

Heavy breathing – is the teacher or the person next to you making funny heavy breathing sounds?

Before you start wanting to give them some Vicks cream, this is a specific yogic style of breathing called the “Ujayi Breath”, or the breath of fire. It is a strong inhale and exhale done through the nose down into the chest and abdomen, so that you feel the rush of air going down the back of your throat.

The breath done in this way gives energy and focusses the mind, so that whenever you may find your mind wandering to think about things going on outside your yoga practice, you can bring your mind and focus back to the sound of the breath.

Funny words – As I mentioned earlier, yoga was born in India, and each of the yoga postures have their original Sanskrit names.  A teacher may refer to a pose with it’s English Western translation or with the Sanskrit, or sometimes even both – so ‘Chaturanga’ means a low plank (or low pressup), ‘Adho Mukha Svasana’ means literally Downward Facing position, and is called in English Downward Facing Dog.

Depending on your teacher you may also hear them talking about Chakras, which are the key points in the body’s energy system. At the end of the practice, your teacher and the whole class will bow their heads and say ‘Namaste’, which means, to use a simple translation, ‘The spirit within me honours and respects the spirit within you.’

Chanting – this may not happen in all classes, and if it does, don’t panic, refer to point 3 above – yoga is not a cult!

Often in yoga it is common to take a moment at the beginning and end of the class to chant the sound OM as a group. What does it mean? The sound itself when chanted as a group creates a sound vibration, which yogic tradition believe creates energy. It also connects the group.

Going a bit deeper, OM represents the sound of divinity (without attaching that sound to a particular religion or being), and acknowledges that presence in all things past, present and future.


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Yoga may possibly change your life!

However much you do yoga – whether once a week, or every day, I can promise that it is transformative.

The movements, combined with the breathing can have vast benefits for your blood pressure, your joints, your muscles, your flexibility, calming your mind, and more. Moving your body and discovering and being aware of what it can do is exciting and inspiring.

The more regularly you practice, and better yet with a teacher who can help guide and adjust you, the more you will see progress, and soon touching your toes will be a piece of cake. Even more so than your body, yoga also can have deep effects on your mind, helping you to have better sleep and to be able to be calmer and less stressed in daily life.

Try it, no-one has ever regretted it!


Huge thank you to Zaz for sharing her wisdom with us today, has she convinced you? She certainly has me, I’m loving the sound of all the benefits yoga can bring to my world for sure…now then, where is my old yoga mat? *ponders*

If you’ve loved Zaz’s work please do take a moment to visit her blog, like her FB page and follow her on Instagram.

Want more? No problem, check out Zaz’s yoga videos as well on YouTube and make a start! x





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29 Discussions on
“Think you know yoga? (Well think again)”
  • This is the best post I’ve ever read on yoga, it actually brought me to tears, the passion, the beauty of your words Zaz and how you are testament to everything you state here, you practice mindfulness as much as yoga…the other day when I had serious PMT and felt like my world was crashing around, you didn’t judge me, you metaphorically cuddled me (we were far from each other) and it meant a lot to me. Thank you.

    You my friend are such an incredible, inspiring lady, honoured to have you (and the wonderful Kate) as friends, please start writing a book (e-book or print) because you are right so many feel yoga might not be for them or have preconceptions that it isn’t and you halt these in their tracks and give confidence to us all to practice.

    I know you’ve changed my life by inspiring me to take it up. I distinctly remember being sat in Carluccio’s with you and you encouraged me to start. I’ve not looked back, it has relaxed me like no other exercise and really sculpts.

    …Since our other night out too and your little yoga session with us the next day, I’ve been deep breathing through the day, even when I didn’t have time to do the poses and it’s really relaxed me, thank you, thank you, thank you xxxx

    • I love this comment SO much. So much love, so much truth, so much fabulousness.

      Agree with everything you say Vicki too. So honoured to have you both as friends xxx

  • Such a brilliant post. You know i am very into fitness and sports, never been a huge fan of yoga as I thought it was boring. Since watching your daily pop up on Instagram, and also seeing you last weekend when practicing yoga I know I need to start doing more and more of yoga. You are truly amazing!

  • This is an amazing post. Funnily I just read a (fairly negative) post on yoga the other day that I will share to Zaz in case she wants to counter it. Yoga’s one of those things I’ve thought about taking up every now and then, but nobody has convinced me more than this yogini mama who rocks my Instagram feed with her poses :-) Thanks for hosting her x

    • I know Uju, how incredible are her Instagram pics?! I’m always in serious awe of Zaz and her talents. It was a pleasure to host Zaz. How could I not?! :) X

  • Great post. I’ve also had a class where we were expected to do head stands – completely impossible, I also felt a fool and was completely put off. I’ve heard such good things about yoga both physically and emotionally and I might just be tempted to give it a go. Thank you! xx #TheList

  • What a wonderful post Zaz and Katie!! You really do make yoga so much more approachable, I want you to be my personal yoga teacher. For me the hardest part of yoga is shutting my mind up. After I’ve rushed to my class, left Reuben sobbing in the creiche (perhaps crying a bit myself with the guilt!), it takes a while to relax into it! But I love it and it certainly far from an easy workout, I ache more the next day than after doing weights!!!

    Thanks for sharing and I look forward to learning more from you!

    Oh and thank you for linking up to #TheList Katie :) much love xxx

    • So thrilled you enjoyed it Hannah! It seems the whole world has got the yoga bug, I seriously need to start practicing. Thanks to Zaz I am so inspired (wish she was my personal yoga teacher too…shall we pinch her and make her move ooop North?!) ;-) xx

      • yes we should!! I’ve since been inspired to get Reuben back into the gym creche (the only class they run is on a tuesday when I have R and he HATES the creche…) I’m doing 4 tester sessions, 1 hour each, and I’m hoping after that, he’ll be happy. Leaving him when he’s sad is not compatible to me for Yoga, I can’t cope with the guilt!

        Thanks for linking up with #AllAboutYou xxx

  • I absolutely love yoga. I wish I could manage to do more, but since I started squeezing just ten minutes a day (ok, most days) into my schedule I feel a million times better for it: fitter, stronger, more chilled. Every time my hubby complains about feeling old and unfit I keep trying to persuade him to give it a go, but he’s not convinced yet. I think maybe I’ll get him to read this post! xx

  • Hello Kate. I just had an opportunity to read this. I absolutely concur with what you wrote here. I just started yoga and absolutely love it. I only wish I would’ve started much earlier. The great news is this is the beginning of a new journey for me. Participating in the classes are awesome. There is such a connection when one practices yoga. I started off in a hot yoga class and would recommend that to anyone. Again as you said, it’s not a competition it’s a practice and mindset. Thanks for writing this inspirational article. I will forward it to a few of my friends. Cheers!! Roger

    • Thanks so much Roger! So thrilled you enjoyed it, alas I cannot take credit for the article, it was the wonderful Zaz who shared her knowledge but I’m delighted you found it so inspirational and will pass on your kind words. So pleased yoga is working for you too. And hot yoga sounds amazing! :)

  • Oh my goodness, what an incredible advert for yoga Zaz is. I always thought yoga wouldn’t be my thing but then I was diagnosed with a heart condition and had to find an alternative to tennis and football. Enter yoga! OH MY GOD, it’s changed my life. I couldn’t go a day without doing it now. I haven’t been doing yoga too long so I’m nowhere near as good as Zaz (I doubt many people are!) but I’m definitely improving. I feel healthier and fitter than I have in years. I wasn’t flexible AT ALL to start with now I’m *almost* able to do the splits! I’d recommend it to anyone. This is such an inspiring post. Maria x

  • What an inspiring post from SUCH an inspiring lady! My yoga journey has had peaks and troughs (long, long, soggy troughs) but I’m trying to commit to one class a week and I can already see the difference that it has made to my core and my attitude. I’m not about to flip a handstand in front of anyone yet, but I can downward dog with the best of them :) Brilliant post that I hope encourages more people to take up this amazing practice x

    • Isn’t it just Michelle?! Great to hear you’re a yoga convert too. I bet your ‘downward dog’ is AMAZING! ;-) x

  • Zaz has totally got me back into yoga, I love her instagram feed and inspirational blog posts. It’s so good to hear it’s for everyone when I think about how stiff I am sometimes!

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