I’m in love with yoga. I’ll admit it, I’m biased. I adore standing on my head. I have a complete crush on backbends. I tend to stand in tree pose and at any given moment, you can find me sitting in the lotus position or attempting bakasana. Adho mukha svanasana? Don’t mind if I do. Vrschikasana has been my own personal challenge pose since January. Confused yet? Oh, well you must be new to yoga. Welcome!
The physical and mental benefits of yoga are numerous and can be life-changing. I’m not going to try to convince you of those, however; not yet, at least. The first step to believing is trying it yourself. If you’re one of the many who claim to “not be able to do yoga” but find yourself in a yoga class, the following five tips may help your yoga experience to be a little less stress and a touch more Zen.
Don’t hold your breath. You’ll only make things harder on yourself. Remember to breathe!
Once you stop telling yourself you can’t do it and just allow your body to be in the pose, you’ll benefit from it most. Yoga is about being. It’s that simple. Let go, have fun, and take a moment to find calm within the chaos of the everyday.
You don’t have to be the most flexible person in the room, and you don’t have to compete with the person who is.
One reason people choose not to do yoga is because they don’t feel flexible enough. You have to start somewhere, though, so why not forward bend into uttanasana and start stretching those hamstrings? Flexibility doesn’t come from sitting still. It doesn’t come from comparing yourself to the super bendy girl on the mat next to you either.
Yoga is self-practice. Yogis attend class for many reasons, but competition usually isn’t one of them.
You can’t touch your toes? Oh well, maybe one day you’ll be able to. Lost your balance and fell out of a pose? It’s okay. Laugh it off. We all fall. One of the best things about yoga is that it’s okay not to be the best, as long as you’re putting forth your utmost effort.
When the teacher corrects you – and he or she probably will – embrace it.
Your yoga teacher is not correcting you to make you feel bad. Yoga teachers love their art and they want you to achieve the greatest possible benefit from your practice. That might mean relaxing your shoulders, bending your knees, or simply moving your fingers a centimeter to the left. Tame that ego and squat a little deeper, feel the burn and get the most out of your practice. Teachers are there to remind us to breathe and to guide us.
No one is judging you.
One of the many excuses I’ve heard from people avoiding yoga is that they’re not good at it; they think everyone else in class is watching them and judging. Stop right there! I’m going to sound like your mother right now, but I’m okay with that. No one is judging you but yourself, and I’m completely serious. Anyone else who is new to class is worried about the exact same thing and any experienced yogi is too tuned into their own practice to pay attention to you. So stop worrying and if anyone is watching you, who cares? It’s just yoga. If all else fails, just remember tips one and two. Inhale, exhale, repeat. Namaste.