By Olivia Thomson
Hands up if you have a health-related New Year’s resolution?
So many of us enter January with a renewed sense of determination to be healthier and fitter. While these are admirable goals, it’s really important to be honest with ourselves – not just about what is realistic, but about what our minds and bodies really need.
Being healthy is about so much more than just being fit, or being slim. One of the (many) reasons we love yoga and pilates in all their forms is that their benefits go beyond physical fitness: they’re holistic styles of exercise that support your mind, body and soul.
TV’s Emma Willis – presenter, mum of three, and now a fashion designer too – is no stranger to these benefits. She’s just launched her debut sports clothing range with high street giant Next, and revealed that reformer pilates is her particular favourite for low-impact exercise. “I need to change it up a lot, but I’d say reformer pilates and boxing are my favourites!”
Emma has clearly kept this in mind when creating her range, with many of the pieces perfect all types of yoga and pilates (plus some supportive items for more intensive sports). They’re comfortable, affordable, stretchy without becoming see-through, and come in a great colour palette of charcoal with pops of neon.
Check it out if you need a little extra motivation to get going this year (everything comes in sizes 6-22, or XS-XXL). It’s best to start with some gentle yet effective movement – and for this, we couldn’t recommend yoga enough!
Yoga (and pilates) is low-intensity and low-impact, meaning it won’t put your body under too much stress. If you’re just getting back into fitness then this type of slower movement is ideal for re-introducing the body to exercise – and a great way to keep fit as we age.
It improves your core strength
A strong core will both support you in everyday life and protect your body if you choose to move onto more intensive workouts. The balancing, stretching and breathing elements of yoga encourage different muscles in your body to work together, and improve the core muscles around your trunk (your shoulders to your hips).
It gets harder, if you want it to
If you feel ready for it, there are some more challenging forms of yoga. Some are faster or in hotter rooms to get you sweating (like Bikram Yoga), some are slower (holding tricky positions for longer will test your strength and stability) and some introduce more difficult poses that push your flexibility. Find the classes near to you and get in touch to ask different instructors about the forms they teach.
Yoga is rooted in meditative principles, focusing the mind and breathing to achieve a calm state that lets go of the pressures in everyday life. Even doing this temporarily can be incredibly powerful and relaxing, allowing you to re-set and release daily tensions. Exercise in general, not just yoga, can be a great way to carve out some “me” time – Emma Willis certainly knows this.
“Finding time for yourself every week is so important…that time for me is when I train. I’m not really doing it to lose weight or look amazing, but to stay strong and stay able as I get older.”
Make time for yourself with yoga in 2020 – try a weekly or fortnightly class, and see what benefits you notice after 3 or 6 months.
Emma Willis’s new range with Next is available online and in selected stores now.
I’m an inclusive, not scary, totally normal yet heavily qualified yoga instructor and founder of YogaBellies® and the Birth ROCKS Method. I’m trained in self hypnosis and meditation and what I love is helping women (ALL women) enjoy yoga without having to whisper all the time and wear fancy activewear that cost a month’s rent.
I believe Yoga is for everyone.