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Yoga – known for it's mental, spiritual and not to mention physical benefits has longed been hailed as a practice that disciplines it's student into centered being.

Jim Harrington, Virgin Active’s Yoga Ambassador, has been practicing yoga since the age of 14. And with it being International Yoga Day next week Wendesday, Harrington shared some of the core basics to enjoying and benefiting from the age old practice.

Having trained cricket players, surfers and triathletes, he believes that yoga can help anyone from both a mental and physical perspective. Here are several thoughts Harrington says one should be mindful of:

Start somewhere

For first-timers, stop thinking about it and just do it. Don’t be intimidated by what anyone else can do or a mistaken perception that you have to be really flexible.

Go slow

Don’t dive into an advanced class – start with the basics and let your skills develop organically over time.

Comfort is key

Clothing is really not important when it comes to yoga. You can wear anything as long as you are comfortable.

Get a grip

Getting a good grip is vital. The ground shouldn’t be too soft as you might end up hurting your wrists. A wooden floor or a good mat will do the trick.


Good breathing is the foundation of yoga. Many people feel that they need to breathe loudly in yoga but that is actually a panic breath – breathe long instead of loud. Healthy, natural and calm breathing involves the use of your diaphragm.

Time it right

Yoga is good for you no matter the time of day but morning is probably best because the mind and the air are clearer and it sets you up for the day ahead.

Gut feel

Ideally practise yoga on an empty stomach. Your diaphragm becomes restricted with a full stomach or even with too much water. Yoga can help you lose weight as certain breathing exercises will act as an appetite suppressant.