Lauren Vercoe has spent years teaching and running yoga studios; now running Zenko Yoga on the Sunshine Coast. Here’s she sheds light on the benefits of yoga and what it might be like for those starting out.
Tell us about your experience with yoga:
I’ve experienced a lot of mental clarity through practicing yoga and meditation, in fact some of my greatest ideas and business plans have come to me after some time of stillness.
Yoga has taught me to speak my truth no matter what, share myself as there is always someone who can gain from your stories and your experiences. Yoga has shown me how to be present – present in my own company, friends and most of all when playing with my children. Yoga heals me daily as whatever I have going on, I am always faced to deal with it within the practice of being in ones own company where all the answers lie- within and now.
What might yoga be like for those starting out:
Yoga has many benefits, sometimes more than we’ll ever know. Whatever it is that you are drawn to yoga for is the right thing, if you come for fitness and toning then that is what you will get, if you come for mental clarity and to switch off from the outside world, then that is what you will get. You might find over time the reason you keep rolling out your mat might be different, the two might even merge together. Then you will realise that the connection between your body and mind is becoming stronger each time you practice, you will notice you listen to your body more, noticing where you are tense, stiff or tender – then allowing yourself to adjust your practice accordingly, slowing down when you need to. It’s really what yoga is all about – uniting the mind and the body and finding a deeper connection with yourself. But if that scares you off and sounds a bit hippy you don’t need to worry about that, just come for the physical and feel amazing.
What are the physical benefits of yoga?
Yoga enables you to build core strength, balance and increases mobility. You can lengthen out muscles, release tensions and really tune into your own body. We have competitive athletes, body builders, cross fitters, footballers, rugby players and swimmers all coming through the studio door and we receive feedback from all of them that yoga has helped in their chosen sport. The focus of the mind through yoga can also filter out into all areas of your life so can enhance your career, sport and relationships.
Put with a healthy diet and lifestyle, it does give you a toned body, incredible strength and physical awareness… I no longer just stumble into doorways as I have a whole new level of appreciation and awareness for my body and most of all my body talks to me and indicates when I need to rest. Physical ailments are signs to stop, readdress and change something and move on.
I’ve witnessed so many amazing physical transformations through my years of teaching yoga. From chronic back pain releasing, shoulder injuries repairing, post natal women healing from birth and a man learning to balance again after major surgery on his knee. For me, yoga is helping me heal from the birth of my 2 children. But again, because “yoga is about uniting mind and body, the mental benefits of healing chronic pain can far outweigh the physicality of it”.
What are your Top 3 Tips for beginners to yoga?
- Make a commitment to yourself. When beginning yoga the hardest part is usually making the time to get on the mat. So firstly making a commitment to yourself to make the time is the first step.
- Aim for the pose to ‘feel’ right and worry not about how you ‘look’. Yoga is a very personal practice, your yoga practice will be unique to you because your are unique! The way your body is made up is different to everyone else, with that in mind the look of a pose will vary from person to person. We aim for the pose to ‘feel’ right for the individual and try not be concerned on how we look. Remember it is about feeling safe and comfortable, not every alignment cue will work for everyone. Its your body, your practice and most of all your mind so do what feels right and if you’re not sure if you’re doing it right don’t worry. Really who cares. Just be yourself and breathe.
- Focus on your breath – YVnt shapes in time with your breath and focusing your mind inward systematically allows us to achieve a calm mind. So try focusing on your breathing and keeping it steady and calm. Ultimately we aim for Samadhi ‘Internal bliss’ where we are content with the world around us, and most importantly with the world within us.