I started yoga a couple of years ago when I was training for a grueling 300-mile (480km) bike ride. I have suffered from shin splits for years and the pain was limiting my training, but after a few months of doing yoga they virtually vanished. By strengthening the muscles around my shins and in my legs, I can now cycle and run without any pain and have just started training for my first half-marathon.
One of the things I love about yoga is that you can do it just about anywhere – at home, on holiday and even in bed! I work long hours and have a busy social calendar, so Yoga Gym fits into my lifestyle perfectly. It’s playful and challenging and I enjoy being able to relax, clear my mind and completely forget about the stress of my job. As well as the Yoga Gym plan, I like being able to choose appropriate poses and yogacises depending on how much time I have and whether I want a tough workout or to relax and restore.
I do a lot of high-impact exercise such as running, spinning and weight training, so I find yoga is a great way to loosen any tight muscles and relieve aches and pains. I love passive yin poses, which I hold for as a long as I can, really tuning into each muscle and allowing it to relax. Regular yoga practice has made me a lot more aware of my posture and breathing too and I’m convinced it has made me taller!
I enjoy the challenge of a strong, dynamic yoga session and can feel my core strength has improved dramatically. I’m much more flexible too and am working towards doing the splits, which is something I couldn’t do even as a child.
The main lesson I’ve learnt from Yoga Gym is to try anything and not to give up – you’re never too old to do a headstand! I think it’s a great way to challenge yourself and explore what your body is capable of. You can then challenge yourself in a similar way in your everyday life, try things you wouldn’t normally attempt, and refuse to give up just because something is difficult to begin with.
Yoga is a big part of my life now. It keeps me slim and fit, does wonders for my stress levels, complements my other training, and is fun and rewarding. I would recommend it to everyone.
My first experience of yoga occurred when I was travelling in Peru a couple of years ago. I had just left the Marines so wanted to try a completely different type of exercise from the regimented military approach I was used to. I did some yoga every now and then but I ended up focusing on weightlifting and sprinting when I was selected as part of the Great Britain Bobsleigh team last year.
As bobsleigh training became more intense, I noticed my muscles were feeling tight and I felt my athletic performance was being limited by my lack of flexibility, so I began the Yoga Gym plan. Since starting, my passion for yoga has been ignited. It has taught me how important it is to spend time working on my flexibility as well as training for strength and power in order to stay injury free and perform to the best of my ability.
I have noticed a huge improvement in my posture and stance, and my balance and co-ordination have improved as I have become more body-aware from performing standing poses. The muscles in the backs of my legs and upper body feel looser and I can perform certain strength and power movements more easily now I have greater mobility in my hips and shoulders.
As a power athlete, my main aim is to be fast and strong. Yoga has helped me to access the power that is needed for sprinting and weightlifting by teaching me how to move mindfully and relax muscles that aren’t needed, instead of wasting energy tensing them. My favourite poses are the passive yin poses because they fill me with calm and teach me improvement through relaxation.
One of the biggest things I have learnt from Yoga Gym is that looking after my mind and spirit is just as important, if not more so, than looking after my body. Yoga has had a profound impact on my composure in sport and daily life. As an athlete, I feel more focused and more determined when I train and I now control any pre-competition anxiety using different breathing techniques. In general, I feel happier, calmer and more mindful of my actions.
Being able to do everything in the Yoga Gym plan at home and pick a variation that suits me is great as it supports the training I do at the gym without me having to travel anywhere or buy any equipment.
I love how yoga is non-competitive and I can just enjoy my personal yoga journey – my new goal is to master a handstand! I recommend yoga to all my personal-training clients and would encourage any athlete to have a go at Yoga Gym to support their performance.
I started yoga 18 months ago as part of a new exercise regime so I could look my best at my daughter’s wedding. I wanted to lose a bit of weight, build some muscle to look more toned, and be able to look at my body and be happy with it.
As someone who looks after children for a living, it can be difficult to get to yoga classes, so Yoga Gym is perfect because it can be done anywhere. I do lots of poses throughout the day – in the kitchen, in the living room, and even when I take the children to the park. The kids love joining in too and I think it’s brilliant to get them doing yoga at a young age so they can grow up knowing how to look after their bodies.
I love all different types of yoga so really enjoyed the mixture or dynamic flows, challenging yogacises, and calming yin poses in Yoga Gym. My favourite pose is Tree pose because I can feel it working my core and it helps me to feel focused and balanced. I feel the workouts have really taught me how to listen to my body. This body awareness helped me tune into my appetite and eat healthier and more natural foods so I could get into the best shape possible for my daughter’s wedding. On the day of the wedding, some of my family didn’t even recognise me because yoga has changed my body so much.
Before I started yoga, I used to be scared of exercising because I had painful knees and hips from years of picking up children. However, since I started regular yoga workouts and have become more aware of my breathing, my posture and the importance of stretching, they are no longer a problem. By strengthening my muscles and increasing my flexibility, Yoga Gym has helped me become pain free.
Yoga has made me mentally stronger too. I know that I can push myself further and get out of my comfort zone in order to grow. I’m now working on headstands and Crow pose, which I thought were impossible when I first started. The breathing techniques I have learnt are also really helpful if I feel stressed or anxious. I know that by breathing properly, I am a calmer person and have a lot more patience. I love how Yoga Gym has helped me find balance in my exercise routine and life. I know the importance of working hard and challenging myself but also make time to nourish myself and relax. For anyone tempted to try yoga my advice would be just to do it. Once you start, you will never look back.
I discovered yoga about five years ago after being diagnosed with a neurological condition. I used to do a lot of high-impact exercise and competitive sport but had to give those up, so I experimented with various fitness plans to help me manage my condition. When I found yoga, I realised it was the perfect way to keep fit as well as distance my mind from my neurological symptoms by helping me to focus on the present moment.
I find going to regular yoga classes as well as using Yoga Gym as part of my home practice has helped me lose weight and keeps me fit without me having to do a lot of cardiovascular exercise, as I did in the past. Although I miss competitive sport, I find the personal challenges involved in yoga exhilarating. I love dynamic yoga and postures such as Triangle pose, which combines balancing, stretching, twisting and lengthening.
Despite having occasional relapses of my medical condition, yoga has enabled me to regain my flexibility and movement and this has helped with everyday activities. I have a far more relaxed outlook on life and even though I experience a lot of fatigue because of my condition, I know that relaxing properly by using calming breathing techniques will leave me feeling completely invigorated.
For anyone about to embark on Yoga Gym, I would advise you to take time to try out the poses and yogacises so you can understand your limitations, set suitable goals and enjoy your own journey.
Mark introduced me to yoga after he experienced such positive effects from it on his own health. I had always suffered from lower back pain and spent a lot of time and money visiting medical practitioners looking for a cure. Yoga changed everything and it is now a major part of my life. Since starting the plan, I can now move and bend without any pain and can touch my toes with ease.
I also play tennis, swim and walk, so Yoga Gym complements the other exercise I do really well because it is so versatile. I love being challenged by some of the more strengthening poses and feel my whole body looks more toned. My stomach is more defined too now that I have learnt how to engage my core muscles and use them to stabilise me in standing poses and to support me when I get outside my comfort zone to have a go at headstands and handstands.
As well as the challenge of Yoga Gym, I really look forward to the feeling of relaxation after each session. When I do yin yoga, I feel as though I am talking to my muscles and asking them to release any tension. I find yoga has helped me to switch off and block out any outside noise or stress. If I have trouble sleeping, I use yoga breathing techniques to help.
Yoga has helped me to become a calmer person and taught me things I can apply to my life off the yoga mat. I now listen to my body more and relax if I need to, I can tune into my feelings, and I challenge myself more in lots of areas of my life.