TIPS FOR A BEGINNER YOGI : HOW TO START YOGA (Spoiler you already have)
We all have that friendship that feels so good right?
You know the one that makes you feel like a member of Destiny’s Child.
The one that you find yourself snort laughing on the bus when thinking about the experiences you’ve shared … and the one you’ve snort cried onto when life gets tough.
The friendship that stands out because it brings out the best you, inspires you, calms you, builds your confidence and watches as you step into who you really are (while cheering from the side lines).
With Yoga I learned I could do this for myself. Through Yoga I learned I am my own best friend.
But I know, I know … how can movement do all that?
There is something in the wholeness of it. Yoga offers you a meter reading of sorts in the here and now. It shows you your mind, breath and body as it is. It releases mental and physical tension, resets your nervous system and supports your body’s restoration and vitality on a deep level.
Pretty cool right? So where to start?
Well in all honesty it can look intimidating. The physical practice of yoga has become a bit gymnastic fantastic on the internet but don’t let that put you off! The real yoga is whatever you need it to be, for you and just as happiness is an inside job – so is yoga.
Manage your Expectations
Beginning a Yoga practice shouldn’t feel like a chore and most definitely never make you feel guilty.
Us humans have a funny habit of taking our optimism to the extreme. Dreams of daily 2 hourpractices and attending class at 6am at the cool studio on the other side of town … quickly turn to guilt when we can’t keep up with our self-pressure. Turning joy into something less enjoyable.
So lets get realistic – what works with your current schedule? How much time can you carve out for yourself regularly? Is that a ten minute morning wriggle and one class in a studio, one at home a week? That. Is. Incredible. Never feel like something is not enough. Its something. And its your something.
Treat it like a date or a meeting – best friends don’t cancel!
Call on your inner Kondo
Right now you know when you are practicing lets talk about where. A home practice is so important to develop because you can access it whenever you need it. But make your practice space inviting and peaceful. Surround yourself with little pieces of magic – candles, plants, a tidy area - that make you feel good. Our brains, the clever things they are, pick up on cues which in turn direct our emotions and nervous system to fall into a certain state. Create your cues and rituals to guide yourself into a feeling. Because that’s the real Yoga anyway: the surrender, the feeling, the sweetness. The coming home to yourself. At home.
Sometimes it’s hard! Sometimes your body say “not today thanks!” Sometimes you are stiff and achy. Other times you are open and energetic. However you show up on your mat notice it but don’t judge it. It doesn’t matter! Work with your body. Be patient. Be kind.
Know that we are all built differently. Some of us have long arms, short legs, strong cores, open hips … and some of us don’t. And that’s the cool thing about yoga. We all have a pose that the composition of our body will LOVE and we all have a pose that we .. don’t love so much. Acknowledge this. Don’t worry if someone else's “love pose” looks impressive. They probably think the same about yours.
Try … everything. The internet is your personal pick’n’mix of every style of yoga out there. Some are going to feel a lot sweeter than others but the beauty of Youtube is you can easily experience a variety of different styles of Yoga and figure out what feels good for you right now. Remember that’s the aim of beginning your Yoga practice – feeling good. If in doubt Vinyasa Flow is a great place to start as it covers the fundamental postures of yoga in a freeing modern way.
Don’t Huff & Puff when it gets Tough!
Notice your breath and you will notice everything. Even when you are flowing keep checking in with your breath. Keep it long, even and slow. Physically this will help you through the cardio or more challenging elements of Yoga and even allow you to go deeper into flexibility. Mentally this will keep you focused and calm – and have a wonderful after glow effect on improving your sleep after class!
Learn the basic postures to give you a bit of confidence to keep exploring new classes. Sun salutations A and B are a great place to start. You will feel encouraged when you recognize sequences and names whenever trying anything new. Be mindful that no one was born knowing all the names and postures and a lot of them are based on ways we moved as a child. If a class atmosphere or teacher ever makes you feel “less” then that is not your class. Find a teacher who encourages you and supports you – they were once a beginner too!