I recently met a young woman at the farmers market who was inquiring about taking one of my yoga classes. After a few minutes of discussing the many varieties of yoga, she told me she was hesitant to try it for the first time because she was convinced that with the rising popularity of yoga, everyone by now must already be so advanced.
Not wanting to feel like a total beginner in a sea of what she thought would be only svelte and lithe yogis, she voiced her discouragement.
It is not uncommon for people to feel like they’ve lost their chance to try yoga for the first time because they are under the false impression that they will be too far behind compared with the masses who have been practicing for several years. While years of practice may yield impressive poses, yoga is really meant to inspire happiness.
The following are three fear-busting truths that beginner yoga aspirants should read, believe, and share with other soon-to-be yogis to alleviate anxiety or doubt about trying yoga for the first time.
1. All poses can be modified to suit the needs of the individual.
Contrary to what you might think, every single yoga pose has a range that can and will accommodate all levels. Minor adjustments per pose make it possible for everyone to be included in the practice. You will be gaining the same benefits as the super-limber person next to you, even if you need to use a block, strap or a bolster for a little help.
2. Lifetime experiences will add to your proficiency on the yoga mat.
Never underestimate your prior experiences, even if you think they have nothing to do with yoga. You may have played sports in high school, have an active hobby, or love to sit and read poetry or philosophy. These are all examples of unique life experiences that only you can bring to your yoga practice. Please do not doubt yourself. Everything you do and have done contributes to your time on the mat.
3. Yoga skills are not defined by the ability to do advanced poses.
When you begin your practice you will likely intend do your best. It is important to remember, however, that there are no benchmarks you must meet unless you set them yourself. Your teacher, or anyone else in class, will not judge you if you take a breather and skip a pose, because your own success at yoga is not defined by your ability to perform the perfect downward dog or some other wildly-advanced version of it.
You have everything you need to practice yoga. Trade in your fear and doubt for inspiration, and experience the health benefits a little time on the mat can give you.
June 22nd, 2012