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The Benefits of Yoga and Reducing Stress

I think right now more than ever we need Yoga in our lives. Some people are under more pressure than ever with homeschooling and working from home. Some people have lost their jobs or their businesses have closed and they are not sure when and how they will open again. Others are battling with illness themselves or have sadly lost a loved one. For some people even the weekly grocery shop with gloves and masks, sanitiser and social distancing is stressful enough.

Yoga will not save the world or sort out all our problems but it can help to ease anxiety and stress and help you to cope a little bit better day to day. On a physical level, a lot of us can hold stress in the body, especially in the shoulders and neck. Those of us who are working at home from a laptop can be giving in to poor posture and rounding in the shoulders. Yoga is brilliant for opening up and resetting those bad habits, making you more aware of how you hold your body so that you can prevent future injuries. By moving the body through the Yoga poses, you're releasing a build up of tension and helping the whole body stay healthy.

When Yoga was first introduced to us in the western world, it was perceived to be mainly for women in lycra leggings. Things have changed a lot and thankfully more and more people have seen the benefits of practicing yoga. Many GAA players, Runners, Rugby teams, Golf, Tennis and Swimming athletes have added a weekly or daily Yoga class to their training schedules. Yoga helps to focus on balance and stability. Right now training with your local sports team may be out of the question but when things open up again, you want to make sure that the first training session back, half the team isn't injuring themselves running into each other or spraining ankles having to quickly turn and avoid someone else. Yoga is also great for improving flexibility. A lot of fitness fanatics can forget about stretching when working out for hours in the gym. For a healthy body, yes we want to be strong, but we also need mobility and flexibility. Slowing down and really focusing on what your body is doing is one of the advantages Yoga can have for any professional or amateur athlete.

As anyone who has tried Yoga will know, yoga is not just a work-out or a physical form of exercise. It is also a work in and Yoga connects our mind, body and soul. I've found myself worrying a lot about the future and what is in store. Yoga helps to bring us back to the present moment, to focus on the now. Deep breathing in Yoga or Pranayama helps us to calm down and relax. Another element of Yoga is meditation and for some starting out, this part is hard, especially if you love the atmosphere of a high powered HIIT workout. Sitting alone with your thoughts can be scary. In Yoga, you're not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You're learning to observe them without judgement. Eventually, you may start to better understand them and with time Yoga can help you achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm, stable state. Something we all need more of!

Yoga in Ireland has grown in popularity over the years and whilst the Yoga Studios might be closed for the time being, there are so many wonderful teachers currently teaching online through Youtube and Zoom. A friend of mine told me he thinks trying Yoga at first is a bit like Tinder, there are so many styles of yoga and hundreds of different teachers that it takes a bit of swiping before you find the right match for you. I'd encourage anyone feeling stressed or overwhelmed right now to give Yoga a go. For those of you wanting something slow and relaxed, a Restorative or Yin class would be good. For beginners, Hatha or gentle yoga is a nice way to start. For something a little bit faster paced, I'd recommend Flow classes or Vinyasa and those of you who want something a bit more challenging Ashtanga or Power Yoga might be what you're looking for.

Orlaith offers corporate classes, private group classes for businesses and sports teams plus weekly online public classes and you can book online at

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