For anyone questioning whether or not yoga is a fit for them, I put this list together, with you in mind. Let me clear up some common misconceptions.
10 Things Every Beginner Yoga Practitioner
(and yoga curious)
Needs to Know:
1. You don't need to be flexible.
Louder for the ones in the back! It's not about wrapping your leg behind your head or doing full splits. Flexibility is a side effect of the regular practice of yoga overtime, NOT a pre-requisite. All you need is a body and a willingness to try. Check out this post: The Flexibility Fallacy written by my friend and fellow yoga teacher/blogger, Danielle.
2. There's no such thing as a yoga body.
Many people are under the impression that you have to have a “yoga body” in order to do yoga. Truth is, doing yoga is a celebration of what your body can do, not what it looks like. Do you do yoga? Do you have a body? If you answered yes to both, then congratulations, you have a yoga body!
3. We’re not just stretching.
It’s so much more than doing complicated things with your body. It's about a mind body connection. It's about proving what you are capable of to yourself. It's about gratitude for all that your body does for you. It's about finding strength and grace in transition. It's a way of life. It's a spiritual, mental and physical practice. It's about breathing and smiling on the inside.
4. You don't need to be spiritual.
If you are spiritual, yoga can help you expand upon that and dive deeper. If you are a seeker...you will surely find something there. Yoga doesn't care if you go to church or not. Yoga is not a religion (or a cult.) Whether you lie in savasana wondering where we come from and where we go, or what you're going to watch on Netflix when you get home...yoga is for you.
5. Yoga is a lifestyle.
It's not an exercise program, it's a way of life. It's perfectly healthy to use it only for exercise but the physical postures (asanas) we all know as yoga, are actually only one slice of the pie. The list of health benefits is staggering, so good for you if you show up to improve your posture and reduce stress levels. Seriously. Just be aware, there is so much more amazing-ness that yoga is packin.
6. A little research makes a big difference
Some practical advice: research your class before you go to make sure it's suitable for beginners so you don't accidentally walk into a handstand workshop. There are many, many different yoga styles and lineages. A little research before you sign up can help you to see who the teacher is, what their vibe is and what style they teach, to see if it feels like a fit for you. If the class you're interested in is not advertised as a beginner class, either reach out to the studio before your go, or get there early to introduce yourself to the teacher and let them know that you're new to this.
7. You don't need expensive new yoga attire.
Sorry Lululemon. Wear yoga pants or don't. Spandex is not mandatory. It doesn't matter if you wear $80 leggings or wear your favorite sweatpants with holes in them. It's not about what you wear, what matters is that you can move freely and that you are comfortable. Breathable, lightweight and/or stretchy fabrics work best.
8. Don't compare yourself to others in the room.
One of my favorite things to say at the beginning of class, is for everyone to practice from a place on non-judgement. I say this because yoga is not a competitive sport. Whether you perceive yourself as being better than or less than someone else in the room, you are hurting yourself. Some people there may have been practicing for years, some may be recovering from injury, some may have background in dance or gymnastics, some may be there for the first time. Maybe last week you could touch your toes, but today you can’t. Wherever you are in your practice, is exactly where your need to be, regardless of where your neighbor is. And it is enough.
9. Show up on the days you don't want to.
You don't need to show up as a bouncing bubbly bundle of joy. Just show up. Show up when your mind is cluttered. Show up when you have too much to do, Show up when your heart is broken. These days are the times we need yoga the most, and the times we can reap the most benefits. Yoga doesn't care if your hair's a mess and your pants are on backwards, it cares that you show up. For you.
10. Practice consistently for results.
Nothing grows if you don't feed it. I don't know anyone who’s life hasn't been changed in some way from the consistent practice of yoga. Key word is consistent. A single class will get your endorphins flowing and give you what is known as the "yoga glow". But, if you are working towards a goal, or looking for significant emotional or spiritual growth, you are going to need to practice continuously. Stick with it and watch the magic unfold .