How many of you have tried yoga and didn’t like it?
How many of you feel bad because you think you should like it? Or even have to like it?
I had an online conversation with a friend the other day. She’d picked up on a post I’d written about how modern life style patterns are changing the shape of our bodies and how yoga can help.
She admitted she’d never been much of a yoga fan.
Fair enough, I thought. I was curious to find out why and prodded a little further, thinking perhaps she just needed a gentle nudge in the right direction.
I asked what her experience had been. Had she tried yoga and was put off or just thought it wasn’t for her?
She’d tried about 20 times but found she just kept her eye on the clock, focusing on how much longer…
20 times – I was impressed!
There’s some serious good intention there that shouldn’t be ignored.
Whether you’re a beginner, thinking yoga isn’t for you or on the verge of quitting, just press pause for a moment while I share 7 yoga tips that may help you to reconsider:
1. Yoga is a very personal practice, there are so many styles out there – some authentic, some less so. Even within the authentic spectrum there are styles that greatly differ from each other, ranging from the more athletic all the way to passive, restorative. Take time to experiment and see what feels good for you and your body. If one doesn’t feel quite right or light you up, try another.
2. The same goes with finding your teacher. It’s a personal choice like coffee or chocolate. This again can take time, try not to dismiss the practice because you haven’t yet found that connection. There will be a teacher out there for you who inspires you, pays attention and cares and he/she may not necessarily be in the trendiest studio.
3. Yoga is NOT about being flexible.
Are you afraid of looking stiff, sluggish and completely incompetent in class?
Or perhaps you’re afraid of how it will make you feel?
Come exactly as you are and try to keep an open, ‘flexible mind’, the rest will follow. Physical flexibility is not a requirement before you start, it’s a by-product that comes with practice.
Every body is different, it may feel awkward at first, you may feel sensation in muscles you never knew you had. This will ease with time and as you continue to practice you’ll increase strength and flexibility. Even more importantly though, you’ll become more aware, learning to accept where you are so that you can grow from there.
4. You don’t have to learn in a yoga studio.
Some of the deepest, most profound change I’ve seen in my clients has been through private 1:1 yoga sessions. Since private yoga tuition is designed specifically to your individual needs, challenges and goals and takes into account how you’re feeling on any given day, it’s hugely beneficial and time efficient.
You don’t have to leave the house or office and you don’t have to feel challenged or distracted by comparing yourself to others.
5. Check out NEW group yoga classes in your area.
The chances are the classes will be small to begin with before word begins to spread, giving you the opportunity to receive plenty of individual attention, ask questions and settle in without feeling intimidated.
It’s also a highly economical way to practice. Think of it as a mini-group/semi-private lesson for a fraction of the cost as you pay the price of a standard group class.
6. Ask Questions
It’s likely that a teacher may occasionally use language that you’re unfamiliar with perhaps by describing the name of a posture in Sanskrit or using anatomical terms.
Or he/she may ask you to begin or end class in a certain way and you have no idea why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Or you’re asked to move into a posture that just doesn’t feel right. It might even hurt a little.
Let the teacher know and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Teachers usually love to share their knowledge or experience. Plus every pose can be modified and safe practice is crucial.
7. Yoga Is Not About Appearance.
Many new students get frustrated because they’re led to believe yoga is about appearance. But it’s not.
It’s not about clothes, props, or even the actual poses though our modern culture, consumerism and social media would have us think otherwise.
Yoga ultimately has one single aim, and that is, to still the thoughts of the mind in order to experience one’s true self.
It’s about how a pose feels in the body, how it opens lines of energy and allows energy and emotion to move through you in order to calm the mind.
So all you need to start with is your body and an open mind.
I hope these tips will help you to reassess how you approach yoga, especially if you’re a beginner.
Let me know your thoughts and if you have any questions that come up by hitting reply to this post.
P.S. For those of you living in or near Luzern, come and try:
NEW Yoga and Functional Movement
OM Shanti Yogaschule Luzern: Löwengraben 15, 6004 Luzern
Wednesdays, 9.00am – 10.15am
Small class and plenty of individual attention. Book here.
You can also check out other yoga classes with me here.