We’ve all been there. Your hands start sweating and sliding along the mat, your arms turn to Jello, and you curse your teacher for suggesting that Downward Dog is a restorative posture. I assure you, your wrists will not always hurt in this pose, and eventually, as you get stronger, learn correct technique, and stick with it, you will find Downward Facing Dog is a more restful posture. Yogi’s promise!
2. Make connections.
Yoga is all about community. Although your practice is very personal, it can also be an avenue to meeting new, like-minded individuals. Next time you come to class, smile at the person sitting next to you – you may just make a new yoga friend.
3. You don’t need to look cool to practice yoga.
Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with loving your new microfiber yoga top, but being decked out in the latest yoga wear from head-to-toe does not enhance your ability to practice yoga. All you need is clothing that you feel comfortable in, and you’re set to go.
4. When you listen to your body, your instructor wants to hug you!
When you decide to modify a pose to make it easier on yourself, you are practicing a very important part of yoga: kindness. There is no scripture in yoga philosophy that tells us we must wrench our body into a pretzel in order to reach an enlightened state. Instead, the practice of yoga encourages us to listen to our body, and practice the poses with proper technique. So next time you feel as if you’re pushing your body past its limits, consider using a prop, or taking a different option so you can practice the pose correctly, and with kindness.
5. No one cares.
Ok, so this might sound a little harsh, but no one really cares what your poses look like. Yes, your yoga instructor cares for your safety and comfort in class, but he or she won’t judge you if your posture isn’t perfect. Perfect is boring.
During class, your mat is like an island: the only person you need to worry about on your island is you. Sure, the girl in front of you may be swinging her legs around her head like a Cirque-de-Soleil performer, but that has nothing to do with your yoga journey. And let’s face it, she’s probably too busy wondering how to get her foot unwrapped from her head to worry about what you look like!
6. Don’t underestimate your breath.
When you first start practicing yoga, you may wonder what all of this breathing business is about. Don’t you breathe all day, every day? Well, the answer is yes, but do you pay attention to your breath? Do you know that breath has an amazing potential to calm your mind and body? Yoga practice transforms something we take for granted every day into something very powerful. So go ahead, breathe!
7. It’s common to think Savasana is the hardest yoga pose.
Your yoga instructor decides it is a good day to practice all of the standing strength Warrior poses, and your legs are ready for the sweet surrender of Savasana. Seems simple, right? You settle in, relax your entire body onto the mat, and enjoy the soothing music in the background. Ahhh…serenity. But wait, did you take the chicken out of the freezer to thaw? What route will you take home? How can you convince your husband to take a yoga class with you? What’s that creaking noise?
Does this sound familiar? Not to fear: this is a very common occurrence. The physical aspect of yoga is the easy part: it’s stilling the mind that is the real challenge. My advice? Breathe. Let your thoughts come and go with each breath, and you may find it a little easier to find your most relaxed state.
Congratulations! You have opened up a door to unlimited possibilities.
Trying something new can be a scary experience; there is always the fear of the unknown. You have taken a great leap by opening up to something that has the potential to change your life forever, for the better. Be open to all that yoga has to offer. As Shasta Townsend would say, “Trust in your own unfolding”.
Namaste, Yogis! The teacher and student within me honours the teacher and student within you.