In the short 10 years that I’ve been teaching yoga I’ve seen a huge growth in the industry, as well as an increase in interest around yoga’s physical and psychological benefits.
I see lots of yoga newbies coming through the doors at the studio and there is often a certain amount of nervousness and fear that surrounds starting a yoga practise for the first time.
I’ve also noticed this when I’m in new social situations and I tell people I’m a yoga teacher, it’s not uncommon to hear a response like;
“I like the idea of doing yoga, my friends been trying to convince me to take it up but…”
This sentence often ends with a list of reasons as to why they don’t qualify to take up a yoga practise, and let me tell you it does bother me hearing this, primarily because I know how much yoga can and does benefit so many people.
Also because the reasons given for not taking up yoga are based on a misconception of what yoga is.
I’m hoping the following is helpful to anyone starting yoga for the first time.
- You don’t need to be able to touch your toes to do yoga!
Now I can hear you saying;
“I’ve seen all these amazing photos on Instagram and Facebook of these Gumby like humans doing all of these pretzel like poses…”
Look I get it and yes there are classes out there that teach some of the very ‘glamorous’ postures and practises associated with yoga but yoga is NOT about form.
It’s not about how bendy or how strong you are. Of course a regular yoga practise will help with increasing your mobility, strength and balance, however a yoga practise is some muc
h more than a physical exercise.
Yoga provides us with the space and opportunity to explore our bodies, to move into the present moment and breathe and discover.
Sometimes what we’re faced with is restriction and stickiness and other times we find space and a sense of relief, sometimes it’s a challenge and other times its blissful. There are times when it feels like all of the above all at once.
As hard as it is, when starting out you need to try and stay open and receptive to whatever might be happening in your body and mind without comparison or judgement. A beginner’s class which is small and supportive is a great place to start.
2. An experienced teacher will always meet you exactly where you are.
No matter where you are there is a right yoga practise and yoga teacher for you.
Finding the right teacher is just like anything else, you have to test and try again and again until you find one that speaks your language and can connect with your needs and support you in the way you want to feel supported.
A good teacher will give you enough to work with and not so much that you’ll feel lost and overwhelmed with the practise.
There needs to be an element of trust and open communication.
When I first started practising yoga I tried many different classes, different styles of yoga, with many different teachers.
While I respected the different teaching styles and methods I ultimately found the classes and teachers that worked for me and my body then I stuck with those so that I could build a solid foundation and develop my practise.
3. You know your body better than anyone else.
If you have injuries or health conditions or are just feeling really stuck in certain parts of your body, you need to listen to that and adapt the yoga practise accordingly.
This is so important for keeping your body safe.
Some classes or practises may not be appropriate for where you are right now. If you are struggling with particular concerns, it’s a great idea to call ahead and ask to speak to the teacher.
Ask if the class is appropriate for your current issue or injury, ask if there will be options and alternatives given in the case that there are things you can’t do during the class, ask how many students are typically in the class so you can gain some idea of how much support you’ll have.
When you arrive to take the class inform the teacher on any restrictions, injuries past or present that you have and make it clear that you are happy to adapt the practise under their instruction.
The point here is don’t feel that you need to keep up with the class and push and over extend yourself.
Before and after class is a great time to ask questions and guidance on things that you might have really struggled with.
Some teachers will allow you to ask questions during classes also.
4. It really is all about the breathing.
The breathing practises and tools in yoga are so very important. When we marry the breath and movement together, yoga becomes very much like a moving meditation.
By focusing on the breathing we can keep the mind engaged and focused.
It’s the breathing that helps decrease anxiety and stress it’s the breathing that strengthens immune function and mental clarity and focus.
It’s the breathing that makes yoga, yoga, and not some form of gymnastics.
5. You need to stay committed.
There will be days that you feel too:
- Stretched for time
- Over worked
- Alone cause your friend can’t come with you
There are days you will just want to roll home and cozzie up to a glass of wine.
Once you get started especially if you are very early on in your yoga journey….
The very start of anything new is the hardest, you are challenging your body and mind to do things it hasn’t done before and it’s all new. Give it a chance, stay committed and you’ll see the benefits, trust me I know ; )
Big love Kxx