Kate Kendall is kind of a big deal in the yoga world… so much so that even I (one of the un-yogiest people in Sydney) know exactly who she is and admire her from afar – in a completely above-board and non-creepy way. The co-founder and Director of Yoga at Flow Athletic in Sydney’s Paddington, Kate’s approach to yoga is inspirational but still accessible – she’s hosted a couple of events I’ve been to and has a knack for making even total novices like me (I struggle to touch my toes and my downward dog looks kind of like a basset hound having a fit) feel really comfortable. And – lucky us – today she’s taken time out to share her thoughts on how to add yoga into a fitness routine.
Is yoga difficult to get into?
I wouldn’t say it’s hard to get started. Just getting there is the hardest step. Once you’re there, be open to having a new experience, know that it’s common to feel unfamiliar, strange and unco-ordinated (I did for a few months) but stay with it. It’s the most rewarding practice I have and has given me so many gifts – mentally and physically.
What are your recommendations for someone who is new to yoga?
My advice for someone new to yoga is to be kind to yourself and only ever do what feels right for you personally. Don’t ever judge yourself or compare your posture to the person next to you. Yoga is about a lot more than just poses and it teaches you skills that you can use off the mat in everyday situations, no matter what you are doing. It’s important to remember that yoga means something different to everyone single person and as such, everyone takes something different from it.
Is it safe to use an app and practice at home?
I would suggest going to do a few classes initially so that your teacher can gently guide you in the right direction with some of the postures, but if practicing at home is more convenient and means you’re more likely to practice then do it – but be mindful and gentle.
What is your advice for staying on track with yoga and not letting excuses get in the way?
Personally, I find it’s best to pop all the exercise sessions that I want to do in my diary and then I make it a priority. When you diarise it, if a meeting comes up at work or people want you to go out and socialise, you can say ‘sorry I really need to do this, it’s a priority for me.’ Planning ahead makes it more likely you’ll stick to it rather than just saying to yourself ‘I might go to that class tonight.’ Once it’s in the diary, it’s locked in and you’ve got to commit to it. Of course, if you get asked out by a cute guy, that’s a good excuse to be flexible with your workout appointment!
Do you have any favourite yoga poses and exercises?
In yoga I love inversions, arm balances and sun salutes, I reckon walking and yoga are two of the most gentle and most beautiful things you can do for the body.
What should we wear to our first yoga class?
Something supremely comfortable!
How does yoga relate directly to mindfulness?
The practice of yoga teaches us to be present in the moment; it trains us to feel more deeply, focus more intently, engage more passionately and savour the feelings and sensations around us every day… and that is mindfulness. Personally, yoga has taught me to have more gratitude, to be more aware of my thoughts and to stop being so crazy! The physical benefits are just the cherry on top. Yes it can give you long, lean muscles and yes it has been the practice that has shaped and transformed my body more than anything else, but the real gold is in the mental benefits.
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