Beginner's guide to yoga
If within arm’s reach is closer than it was, it’s time to loosen up. Lack of flexibility has been linked to stiffening of the arteries as well as the muscles, which is bad news for the heart. But, however unbending you are, there’s hope, because everybody can be more supple, says Victoria Woodhall, author of Everyone Try Yoga.
As most of us slouch too much, she suggests starting with cat stretches (arching and rounding the back), gentle twists, and hip openers (resting a foot on a bent knee). Then give yourself a top-to-toe workout with the sun salutation taught at yoga class.
Ah, but which one? Iyengar is ideal if you’re creaky, because it builds up poses and encourages the use of props, while viniyoga offers a gentle, individualised approach. Health problems? Consider: yoga therapy; Scaravelli-inspired yoga, which focuses on the spine; or restorative yoga, where you just bliss out. And if you decide to take pot luck at the gym, go for a beginner's course. “It gives you the chance to adapt poses for your body type without looking anxiously at the bendy person next to you,” says Woodhall.