Working up the nerve to attend your first yoga class? You’re not alone. It’s easy to feel intimidated when stepping into the yoga space for the first time (or first few times). We tend to assume that yogis were born doing headstands, unlocking their innate flexibility and inner peace from an early age. However, this is (usually) not the case. In fact, most yogis begin with wandering minds and lack the ability to even touch their toes, myself included. For this reason, it is important to take a step back and consider why we are all drawn to the practice in the first place.
Whether you are on the fence about attending your first yoga class, trying to get more comfortable in your practice, or maybe, with the current state of the world, considering leaving your zoom camera on (gasp). Here are some things to remember to help get you out of your head and into your practice:
1. You don’t need to be flexible to do yoga.
Throughout my six years as a “yogi”, the most common response I’ve received to anything having to do with the practice is “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible.” This always makes me laugh. As a former athlete who neglected stretching, I came to yoga with hamstrings and calves so tight that my low back picked up the slack and caused me debilitating pain. Not to mention my extreme lack of shoulder and hip mobility from all the sitting and hunching over I did at my school desk. Though it came with time (cough 2 years), touching my toes was the last thing on my mind.
Anyway, my short and relatively obvious point is: If you’re not flexible, how the heck do you think you become flexible?
PS these Yoloha Yoga Blocks are an excellent way to make poses more accessible.
2. No one’s looking at you!
And it’s not because you aren’t beautiful (you are!). Yoga is a personal practice. The same way you are wrapped up in your own self, body and mind, so is everyone else. Still concerned? Here’s a fact that will ease your mind:
In yoga, we practice drishti, a gazing technique that helps us to develop concentration. Where our eyes go, our attention follows, so it is important to mindfully choose our gazing point within yoga postures. Teachers will often cue your drishti and it will usually be at your fingertips toes, the tip of your nose and maybe the floor or wall, but it will never be your neighbor. That would definitely throw your balance off!
3. “Comparison is the Death of Joy” – Mark Twain.
Need I say more? As I mentioned above, yogis all start somewhere. Whether they started a few years ago with no experience doing any physical activity at all or spent their entire lives training as a dancer, it simply does not matter. Your progress will always look different than someone else’s because we are all different. Real joy comes from acknowledging where you are today versus the first time you stepped onto your mat. Don’t let anyone else’s progress take away from that.
These are just some things to remember to get you out of your head and into your practice. Are you ready to take the soul dive into your practice? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!