Friday Finds – 2nd December

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

For a variety of reasons, this past week has been very stressful for me. Everything is fine now, but I was left feeling very drained and pared back a lot of my training as I felt that hard workouts when I was feeling less than my best would be counter-productive and perhaps lead to injury. Instead, I switched to easy sessions to clear my head and made sure to take some time for myself in order to relax. For this, yoga was my saviour, and since I’ve come across a few yoga-focused articles recently, I decided to bring you a Friday Finds yoga special this week. No need to twist yourself into a pretzel to read it, just enjoy the chance to relax and have some “me-time”.

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First up, this neat summary of how yoga can benefit our brains. Yoga is a new discipline for me, but straight away I noticed how it helped me to switch off and I love that fuzzy, floaty feeling I have after savasana. This was especially true on Monday when a Hatha yoga class really saved what had otherwise been a very difficult day. But what caught my interest was the cognitive benefits of yoga cited in this article, drawing on a recent survey which forms part of a growing body of evidence that shows yoga to be massively beneficial for our mental health, perhaps even more so than our physical health.

Further to this, today I awoke to the news that yoga has now been added to the UNESCO representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity alongside other “intangibles” such as diets, dances and diverse cultural phenomena. Yoga was recognised thanks to its ability to improve self-realisation and ease suffering in people of all ages. The addition of yoga to this prestigious list is further recognition of the many benefits of yoga.

And speaking of people of all ages, I love the story of “yogalebrity” Täo Porchon-Lynch. Yoga instructors are ten a penny on social media these days, but they’re not often 98 years old! Reading through the story of Ms Porchon-Lynch is incredible, spanning a childhood in India where she met Ghandi, war years in London where she met Noël Coward and dancing in Hollywood. To this day she combines her two passions of yoga teaching and ballroom dancing in her busy schedule. In a world where ageing is so often seen as a disease, it’s inspiring to see someone continuing to live life to its fullest at an age more often associated with care homes and knitting.

Of course, the benefits of yoga can also extend to the other end of the age spectrum and boost the emotional wellbeing of young people. In a digital age where our young people are constantly plugged in to an online world, yoga might just be the thing to help young people to switch off, calm anxieties and aid restful sleep. Introducing yoga in schools was suggested during a commons debate a few weeks ago, and while it might be a bit of a hard sell to some young people, the long-term benefits suggest that it’s worth pursuing.

And finally, I mentioned some quirky yoga classes in a recent post and was particularly taken with the idea of cat yoga. This concept has been featuring in my news feeds again this week so I couldn’t resist sharing a couple more articles about it. If you like yoga and pictures of cats (and let’s face it, the internet loves both of these things!) then these are the posts for you. As a bonus, the CNN piece features some entertaining video of a cat yoga class. Meowmaste!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

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