In recent years, yoga has become increasingly popular in the West, and really, it’s no wonder why. A physical and spiritual practice with origins in ancient Indian philosophy, it is famed for promoting relaxation, reducing stress and even improving some medical conditions. Its name is also rather apt, as it is a discipline aiming to unite the mind, body and spirit - yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj meaning union.

Among the 10,000 yoga instructors in the UK is local practitioner, Yinny Wan, who runs several classes in Orpington and the surrounding areas. Having begun her yoga journey 10 years ago, she has come a long way since, and is now trying to teach others the importance of taking some time out for yourself each day.  “I started practicing… when I decided that I needed to carve out some time for myself in terms of self-care and rest,” she told me. “[At the time] I was feeling very stressed and was going through some difficult situations at work and home.”

And in fact, multiple studies have shown the benefits of yoga in terms of relieving stress; for example one study that followed 24 women for a 3-month period showed that afterwards they had significantly lower levels of cortisol, the primary stress hormone ( Yinny agrees with this emphasising that yoga benefits her “physically, because it has helped me build strength and… emotionally, because breathing practices [help] to keep my mind positive”. The benefits that she feels are passed onto others through her practice; when you realise this it becomes clear how much of an impact yoga has. “I felt more calm and relaxed afterwards,” said Sheila Anderson, when I asked her about Yinny’s classes. “This in turn meant my back ached less, as I was less tense.”

During her Monday class, one of the several classes she runs throughout the week, it was evident that everyone was comfortable and pushing themselves to their own limits, with attendees of all ages and levels. Although the style of yoga in her classes varies from Hatha to Vinyasa, the Monday session is Yin yoga- a slow, meditative practice, focusing on gently stretching the muscles and using a bolster and strap for support. Yinny also is trained to give Sound Energy massages (which she explains further on her website:, and towards the end of each Monday class she uses Tibetan singing bowls, in order to release emotional tension and tension of the muscles.

Despite the many benefits, often people are apprehensive about taking up yoga, worried that they need to be insanely flexible or strong. Yinny wants to dispel this myth: “Yoga can be practiced by anyone- you practice to the level that your body can manage.” She also wants to emphasise that you should not be “put off by the unrealistic images on social media of head stands and arm balances.” Finally, her main- and poignant- piece of advice for those considering starting yoga is this: “[Yoga] is about finding stillness and calm in a world of fast paced, achievement driven, busy schedule living.”