Did you know that some historians believe that yoga is 5,000 years-old but could actually be nearly 10,000 years old? That’s right, our ancestors might have been perfecting the downward-facing dog and saying ‘Namaste’ from way back in the year 8,000 BC. Just let that sink in.

That’s why it’s even more mind-blowing to see that yoga is still such a popular and effective way to get fit, improve flexibility and chill out when everything else feels really stressful.

Over the past few years or so there’s been an extra surge in popularity thanks to celebrities talking about their love for yoga, big brands like Sweaty Betty focusing on it with their leggings and sports bras and the rise in Instagram stars who make yoga look fun – and not to mention easy – for un-bendy beginners.

The reason Instagram has become such a great place for yoga fans is because all kinds of people take photos of them practicing it. You don’t have to be on a mountainside in Thailand to do yoga, you don’t have to be super skinny and you don’t have to chant and light incense – but you totally can do all of those things if you like!

We’ve collected together our favourite Instagram yoga stars, including a range of body types, nationalities and styles of yoga that’ll hopefully inspire you to find a class near you, stretch a bit more or follow their tutorials.

Laura Kasperzak (@laurasykora)

Red lip, red leggings, red kisses! 💋 . Wearing my fave Fall color leggings from @aloyoga ❤️

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Laura is a yoga star with a background in gymnastics and cheerleading, which you can see in some of her photos. A lot of her poses are really advanced and others you can learn in your first class – she posts a lot of great posts you can aspire to!

She’s one of our favourite Instagram yoga stars because she loves to include her family and her dog in a lot of her poses – proving that yoga isn’t something that’s difficult and only meant for a studio. You can try it anywhere and with anyone!

She also practices Acrovinyasa, which is a kind of AcroYoga and involves working with a partner (she practices with her husband) to perfect certain moves.

Jessamyn Stanley (@mynameisjessamyn)

Thanks to all of you being really enthusiastic about #everybodyyoga, I've received a lot of exceedingly generous press lately. But real talk, if I individually shouted out every media outlet that has shown me love, I would probably blow chunks all over my computer from verbal masturbation fatigue. That being said, I'm REALLY FUCKING HONORED to be included in @fastcompany's 100 Most Creative People in Business issue- thanks for validating a career path that totally goes against the advice of every authority figure in my life. In fact, I reallllllly want to insert a few petty as fuck emojis toward some of my undergrad and grad professors but yoga is making me shut my ass up soooo ANYWAY the link to the profile is on my Facebook page- check it out if you're into that kinda thing 💋 Totally unrelated, I'm teaching a retreat at @1440multiversity in August AND I'll be at Hawaii Yoga Festival at @kalanioceanside in October- see you there? Check out jessamyn stanley.com for more info! Photo by the amazing @yogicphotos

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Jessamyn is based in the US and has become an Instagram sensation for her inspiring posts, great form and yoga knowledge, from really advanced poses through to those that would suit a complete beginner.

She’s recently launched a book called Every Body Yoga, which she wrote to inspire all kinds of people to embrace yoga – whether they’re beginners or struggle with issues surrounding their appearance.

She teaches a lot of body positivity and talks openly about the challenges she’s faced throughout her journey with her size, race and accepting herself. She’s a true inspiration. If we had to recommend you only follow one person of Instagram forever (can you imagine if that was a rule?) we’d tell you to follow her in a heartbeat.

Honza and Claudine Lafond / Yoga Beyond (@yogabeyond)

Real-life couple Honza and Claudine Lafond share their amazing lives with the world through Instagram, as they travel the globe and teach yoga everywhere from Turkey to Australia. Talk about #RelationshipGoals!They’re really inspiring because they created Acrovinyasa, a style of AcroYoga that incorporates yoga, acrobatics and even some dance. As you can imagine, it looks bloody amazing on Instagram!

They’re really inspiring because they created Acrovinyasa, a style of AcroYoga that incorporates yoga, acrobatics and even some dance. As you can imagine, it looks bloody amazing on Instagram!

But that’s not all, they also have an online community and site called Yoga Beyond, which is where they share their stories, tell their fans where in the world they’ll be and explain more about their Acrovinyasa practice.

Valerie Sagun / Big Gal Yoga (@biggalyoga)

My book is finally here for you all! 💓 Thanks for all the love and support, it seriously means so much to me and makes me want to cry happy tears 😂😭! If you want to order the book now, links to all the places in my description! When you get a copy share on here and use the tag #BGYogatoEmpower of #bgybook so I can see and give you some love!!! I only have a handful of book tour dates set up now on the west coast. To RSVP or register for either of them go to www.biggalyoga.com/classes This Saturday July 29th I will be at @curvygirllingerie from 5-8pm for a Q&A with the owner Chystal, followed by a book signing after! Hope to see you there! Sign-up through the Eventbrite to buy a book and RSVP for the event! The following week on August 6th I will be at @bethechangeyoga from 12:30-4:30pm for a yoga class, Q&A, and book signing! Register for the class through the event link on my website, and stay for the Q&A and book signing! 8/10 7-9pm Q&A and book signing at @theplusbus 8/13 2-4pm Yoga class at @everybodylosangeles w/theplusbus 8/27 TBA w/ @ybicoalition in LA . 📸 by @ruestory

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Valerie loves yoga, she loves her body and she isn’t afraid of sharing her stories with the world. Her mission is to teach everyone, no matter their shape, size, race or knowledge of yoga, to find self-acceptance and empowerment through practicing yoga.

She teaches regular yoga classes over in the US and has also released a book that celebrates her extensive yoga knowledge and teaches a big dose of self-love to her fans.

Amber Carnes / Body Positive Yoga (@bodypositiveyoga_)

Amber’s mission is all about making yoga way easier to grasp, whoever you are and however fit you are. She posts a lot of handy tips on her Instagram page, as well as some nice personal photos of her life and her travels.

Her big aim is to get people loving yoga, practicing more and appreciating their body for what it can do TODAY – not always wishing you looked like someone else. We couldn’t agree more.

Rachel Brathen / Yoga Girl (@yoga_girl)

Move your body until your mind is still and watch everything fall into place. #yogaeverydamnday

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Rachel is a super famous Instagram yoga star because she’s been practicing for years and has amassed a whopping 2 million followers!

She posts a lot of personal posts about her life and her travels nowadays, but we love her for her speeded up yoga tutorials, which she posts on Instagram a few times a month.

She also posts regularly about her meditation practice (20 minutes every day) and writes about little changes she makes in her life to make her feel happier, healthier and her best self.

Feeling inspired to start bending, stretching and perfecting your crow pose? Us too! Remember that to get started with yoga you have all kinds of options, from finding some tutorials on YouTube (we love Yoga With Adriene) through to finding a class in your area. But be sure to give all our favourite yoga Instagram stars a try first to motivate you, keep you on the right track and teach you a bit of self-love whenever you’re feeling down. You’ve got this.

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Tired of spending your weekend job cash on your gym membership, but still want to stay fit? Enter the YouTube workout: 2017’s answer to your mum’s Davina McCall fitness DVD – you know the one we mean, right?

Whether you want to try yoga, boxing, ballet or dance, there’s a YouTube video for you. The best part is that all these workout videos are completely free to access and require little to no equipment.

Why not try them all and find your favourite?

Body By Simone’s 25 Minute Cardio Dance Workout

You don’t need any equipment for this workout by celebrity trainer Simone De La Rue, who has sculpted the bodies of Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift and loads of the Victoria’s Secret Angels. Just throw on your leggings, make sure you have a bottle of water on hand and get moving for all-over toning.

Sweaty Betty Ballet Bootcamp Workout

Want to try a ballet workout without paying for a pricey class? This Sweaty Betty video is a great taster, combining classic ballet moves with cardio to hone your muscles, and get your heartrate up. You’re probably going to ache after this one, but you know what they say: no pain, no gain!

The Khloe Kardashian Official Workout Routine

Designed by her trainer Gunnar Peterson, this is a great routine if you like using weights in your workouts, though you will need some equipment (like a mat, medicine ball, dumbbells and a resistance band) to get started. Make sure you pay special attention to the techniques so you don’t risk injury.

Yoga With Adriene

It’s hard to recommend just one of Adriene Mishler’s yoga videos, but her channel is a great place to explore different yoga routines, whether you’re focusing on your body or mind. Give her 7 Minute Bedtime Yoga a try and see how well you sleep!

Christa DiPaolo’s 45 Minute Epic Cardio Boxing Workout

If you have a little longer to dedicate to your workout – and are in the mood for a challenge – try this great boxing video from Christa DiPaolo. All you need is some small dumbbells and you can prepare to feel that ab burn!

Blogilates Fast Ab Workout

Sometimes you want to target one specific body part and Blogilates have loads of quick-fire videos for doing just that. This climber move might look simple, but it sure is effective.

32 Minute Home Cardio Workout With No Equipment

Another great all-over workout, which will cost you absolutely nothing, expect everything from side step jacks to knee pulls in this medium-length video. There’s a reason why it’s been viewed over 13million times!

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Image: Justin Bieber, Sorry

This is a love story about myself and yoga. If you knew me in my teens, you’d think it an unlikely love story, as I was lazy and regularly tried to get out of PE at school by ‘forgetting’ my kit. But in my mid-20s I did a full 180 on exercise and fell in truly, madly, deeply in love with yoga.

The reason I love yoga is simple: its benefits are both physical and mental. After a few months of practice, I grew not only stronger and more flexible in my body, but also in my mind.

Knowing what I know now, I wish I’d got into it sooner. I’ve long suffered from anxiety, fretting incessantly about exams, homework, friends (you name it, I’ve probably hyperventilated about it). But yoga gives me some headspace. It doesn’t solve my problems or make them disappear, but it pushes my anxiety to the edge of my mind for an hour or so – meaning I leave with fresh perspective.

You may have heard about meditation, which is where you switch off your worries by focusing on the here and now (the present), usually through deep breathing. Well, yoga is basically moving meditation. You’re encouraged by the instructor to think so precisely about different postures (positions) that you put your body in – how your feet are placed on the mat or whether your shoulders are tense – that you can’t help but switch off from your day’s worries.

Most yoga classes start off slow, building up to a more challenging standing or balancing posture and then winding down again to more relaxing postures, ending in ‘shavasana, where you lay outstretched on the floor with your eyes closed. Sometimes you can lay there for five minutes and it’s so relaxing after all that exertion that I’ve even fallen asleep and, ahem… definitely snored. This part of the class is really important, instructors say, because it allows you some downtime to reflect on the class and face the world with a calmer, more balanced approach.

Spending an hour on the yoga mat focusing on myself has helped me through some really tough days when I’ve felt stressed, lost and inadequate for a multitude of reasons. I wish I’d tried it sooner so I could have used it at school, and coped better with the pressure I was feeling.

Intrigued? Here are five things you need to know about yoga before you get started:

1. You don’t need to be able to get your leg behind your head to do yoga

It’s a common misconception that you need to be super flexible to do yoga. You don’t. Our bodies are all different and we will all have different strengths and weaknesses. Yoga is all about learning about your body and working with what you’ve got. It will help with flexibility – to open your hips and shoulders – but it will also help you to become stronger and develop better balance.

2. Not all yogis are chilled-out hippies.

If you think all yogis are sat under a tree meditating somewhere you’re mistaken –loads of us are sat on the sofa eating pizza. People who practise yoga come from all walks of life: from Premier League footballers to the elderly woman sat next to you on the bus. There’s no ‘right way’ to be a yogi; all types of people practise for different reasons.

3. It doesn’t matter how good you are.

Yoga is a non-competitive practise, so it doesn’t matter if you can’t contort like the yogis on Instagram. All that matters is what you do on the mat. Trust me, you’ll be so preoccupied with whether your feet are in the right place or trying not to topple over completely, that you won’t even notice other people.

4. You don’t have to spend a fortune.

Yes, some yoga classes cost a bomb, but you needn’t splash the cash. Just buy a yoga mat and pair of cheap leggings (look at the activewear range from Primark, Forever 21 or H&M) and watch a video on YouTube for FREE (try Yoga with Adrienne). Note: If you plan to practise yoga in a class rather than at home, yoga mats will usually be provided – but always check ahead.

5. There are lots of different types of yoga.

Do your research and try a few YouTube videos out to find out which is best for you. My advice is start Hatha yoga (good for beginners as it teaches postures) and then try out something like Vinyasa Flow (which is based on fluid movements from one posture to another) or Restorative (which involves staying in very relaxed and nourishing postures for an extended period of time and is great for stress relief).

See – aren’t you feeling more chilled already?

@Brogan_Driscoll

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Image: Amber Griffin