It’s the new year and similarly to running, a lot of people are going to try yoga again or try for the first time. Whether it’s because you’re interested in getting in shape or feel the need to do some soul searching, if you’re coming back to or starting yoga for the first time, I’ve got some words for you.
Don’t worry, yoga isn’t an exclusive club. Not really. It might seem like it at first, especially with some of the more intense videos but remember that everyone started somewhere. If you aren’t comfortable going to an in person class, there’s plenty of areas online for you to go do yoga..for free!
I have my own youtube channel Wild N’Free Yoga but there’s plenty of others, Yoga With Adriene for one. There are so many options and lots of different ways to practice!
The point is this…don’t worry. It feels like yoga is some weird thinking, exclusive club of extremely balanced, extremely flexible contortionists. But it isn’t. We’re all on our own journey.
Discovering that peace is what we are all looking for. We want to focus on the breath and open our hearts and minds. That inner peace is at the core of yoga. The rest, flexibility, stamina, strength, that all comes with time and diligent practice.
First tip: Don’t panic.
None of us were good at this when we started. I think that sometimes, instead of being calm, when we’re initially on the mat we panic because we realize we aren’t in shape, we’ve wasted time, and then bad thoughts seep in. Don’t worry, don’t panic. Let whatever emotion is there just move through.
Work on the movements and on the feeling of loving yourself, embracing yourself. That’s all. Don’t panic about perceptions, fears, and self-doubt.
Second tip: Form instead of “looks cool”.
I’m talking about forward fold, and everywhere else we don’t bend our knees. Look, I get it. I was there. We so badly want to be good. We want to be cool and look cool. But if we don’t have the basics, what good is that damaging pose?
Instead of trying to force yourself into a pose, try keeping a straight back, belly tucked in and so on and so forth. Look at the form of the pose, try to emulate it within your own body. If that means blocks, straps, or even a wall…cool! You still have a body that’s willing to work.
Tip Three: Take a break.
No, no. Not like a day or a week off! Something different. If you’re doing a practice, it’s only to drop your knees down and take a breather. It’s okay to pause, catch your breath. You don’t have to do the entire video to be exercising. Taking a moment here, maybe even pausing the video is completely okay and encouraged.
Set a reasonable expectation for yourself. An hour long power yoga may not quite be reasonable. But twenty minutes of an easy flow? Yeah, better. You don’t have to be perfect or amazing at it. You just have to do it and get through it.
Tip Four: Don’t push it.
But do push it. What do I mean by that? Don’t break yourself trying to get a goal. Yes, stretching is a little painful. Yes, working out makes your muscles burn. But don’t push yourself farther than you are ready to go. Remember to take it easy on yourself as you start this journey.
But not too easy. You should be sweating, trembling, working hard. You should feel sore. But you should also still be able to move the next day. You’ll find the balance, just be mindful of it.
I won’t chat your ear off and keep throwing tips at you. Four is enough.
However, lots of people fall off the wagon don’t they? When we come into the new year, we have lots of energy and somehow, somewhere along the line of the first month or two we just give up. Why?
Lots of reasons.
None of which I’ll get into. What I will say is this: it won’t be easy. It will be hard. You will want to quit and stop. And that’s natural. Even the best athletes have days they don’t want to they just know how to ignore that voice and push through.
Ninety percent of our training is just…brain training. We are teaching ourselves to be determined as much as we are teaching ourselves to be peaceful.
So…don’t give up. Not after a day, a week, a month, a year, or a lifetime. Keep going. Keep pushing. Keep smiling.