Beginning yoga can feel intimidating. Let’s face it, we have all seen photographs of people in yoga poses that resemble contortionists from the circus. Yoga is much more than being able to get yourself into a pose. The exciting thing about starting a yoga practice are the paths we travel that lead us to the yoga pose. Just as we explore a new place while on vacation, beginning a yoga practice is an exploration into our bodies.
Here are some tips to help you enjoy your new adventure and shed light on paths not yet traveled.
- Leave the Past Behind and do not Anticipate the Future: Many thoughts may run through your mind before deciding to begin a yoga practice. It is ok to be nervous or unsure before stepping onto the mat. Just remember, everyone at the yoga studio has had a first day. Arrive at the studio with a willingness to learn. Being open and light will help elevate thoughts of past worries or future anticipations.
- Deciding Where to Sit: Looking around the studio for a spot to roll out your mat is very similar to finding a spot in a classroom. Many beginners avoid the front row and sit in the back where they may feel that they are less visible to the teacher. I am going to share an inside tip with you; from the front of the room, yoga teachers can see the back row more clearly than any other row in the studio! No matter what floor space you decide to occupy at the yoga studio, remember that teachers honor your eagerness.
- No Two Bodies are the Same: There will be other students in the class with varying levels of experience, flexibility, skill, and strength. Remember that each of our human bodies are remarkably different. They are consistently changing and reflect the sports, work, and environments that they have encountered. We may not have the same abilities as the person on the mat next to us and we may be able to do some things that our neighboring yogi may not be able to do. Because of this, we have to remember not judge or compare our practice with another.
- Create a Solid Foundation: Just like building a house, the goal in the beginning stages of a yoga practice is to create a solid foundation. Try to slow down and be patient. This is not the time to rush forward and miss out on any important steps. Taking the time to focus on the basics will ensure your safety when moving forward with your practice.
- Become Curious: An amazing thing happens when we become curious about yoga. It makes us eager to learn more. The real yogic journey begins when we start peeking around the corner and becoming curious to what we might find. The match has already been struck within and the only thing we have to do is make sure it ignites and stays lit. Following the pull of curiosity.
Yoga is not about the ability to touch our nose to our knee in a forward bend, it is so much more. There is much to discover when starting a Yoga practice, so roll out your mat, follow your curiosity and shine light on any intimidating thoughts that may come in your path, for the real journey of yoga awaits.
Written by Erin Walsh, RYT 200, who teaches Beginner’s Classes at Yoga from the Heart