I have to be honest with you. My journey to loving yoga didn’t happen overnight.
When I started doing yoga, I knew I had to do something to bring balance between my body and mind. It was hard. The tension I felt in my body was extreme, but I chose to stay in the practice. I realized how important is to move my body. It was something new for me. Before yoga, I always did a lot of other kinds of physical activities with the main objective to gain something external – like losing weight. For the first time in my life, I showed up on the mat to feel good. To feel my body. To get connected. Back then I didn’t know what body awareness is or what means to be present. But I learned on the way.
So, I hear you.
It’s challenging to stay committed to a practice you don’t fully understand. I hope these tips will empower you to get started with yoga.
Show up with an open mind. Without an open mind, we will end up judging the experience we’re having, other students in the room, and even the teacher. Many people come to yoga and beat themselves up in the first 20 minutes. I can tell from experience that you need around 10 yoga sessions to understand what’s happening in a yoga class, or if you like it or not. Be patient. All is coming.
Take a beginner’s workshop. These workshops are designed to help you find proper alignment in your body, and will also help you gain clarity about breathing techniques and meditation.
Hold the pose, not your breath. Breath is everything. Pay attention to how your breath is at the beginning of class, and if it’s deeper and more relaxed at the end of class. When you feel your mind wander, think about taking deeper breaths. It’s the best way to calm down and come back into your practice with a fresh perspective.
Don’t compare yourself with others. Okay, we all do this. We look around us to see who’s taken the most challenging poses during the class. Please, don’t come on your mat to beat yourself up, compare yourself to others, or to polish your ego. The main idea is to feel your breath and the sensations within the body. Wherever you’re in your practice, it’s just fine.
Forget about not being flexible or strong enough. In the beginning, you’ll assume you’re going to be bad at it, that you’re not flexible or strong enough, that you don’t know what the heck you’re doing. Remind yourself that all you need is the willingness to be with your breath and body for 60 minutes, and whether or not you can keep up with the flow of the class, or understand Sanskrit is irrelevant. We don’t practice yoga just to get good at yoga. We practice to become the best versions of ourselves we can be. And if a little strength and flexibility come along with it—well, then that’s a gift.
Relax into the process. Bringing tension into your fingers, toes, or even your face is very common when you’re first starting. The more you let go and release this stress from your body, the easier every pose will feel. Keeping things loose and comfortable we allow for a better experience to unfold in front of you, and once you’ve chilled out, you’ll find that you’re able to hold poses for longer.
Be a beginner. Let yourself have the opportunity to be a real beginner! The idea of a “beginner’s mind” means heading to your mat with no preconceived notions about what you can or can’t accomplish, or poses you can or can’t do. Even a more experienced yogi should come to each class with a beginner’s mind. It’s all about the experience, and leaving expectations at the door will result in the best experience possible.
Have fun. I’m saying this because there will be times when you’ll want to quit because of the intensity of the class, or because of the emotional baggage, you’ll stir up. At least, if you are going to put your body in the shape of animal names, at least take the pressure off and enjoy every moment of the practice. The more fun you are having, the more likely you’re going to stick with the practice.
If you are a beginner, did any of these tips help make you feel more comfortable with stepping onto your mat? If you have questions feel free to comment. I’d like to hear from you.
Love and Light,