Updated: Sep 10, 2020
My first Yoga class was at a Bikram Yoga Studio (90 minutes of yoga in a sweltering hot room)! Talk about diving off the deep end (lol)! The students in my class ranged in abilities, but I was definitely the newbie (it was very obvious in my practice!). Naively, I thought I could automatically twist and turn my body into postures that the other students did so effortlessly (which probably took them years of practice!). Although I’ve been practicing Yoga for years now, I am constantly gaining new insights on familiar postures. Over time, I’ve deepened my practice of Yoga, and I am not caught up with keeping up with the others in the room anymore. Here are a few things I wished I had understood as a beginner yogi:
Remember that time your Yoga teacher guided you into a pose that had your limbs tangled like a pretzel, but then you made the mistake of looking at the progress of the person beside you? Have you found yourself pushing your body into a posture that it’s not entirely ready for, just because you needed to keep up with the person next to you? If so, you just made your practice into a competition, my friend. A gentle reminder: it doesn’t matter if the person beside you can hold that pose longer, or doesn’t use props to modify their postures, or looks a certain way, or is wearing Walmart or Alo yoga pants. Stop comparing yourself to what is external, whatever is external has nothing to do with you. All that matters is you, at that very moment, in your practice. Dedicate your energy to your practice, not to the others in the room. You can avoid wandering eyes by focusing on the tip of your nose when in standing postures, or keep your eyes closed in postures that make it safe to do so. Stay on your mat and focus on yourself!
Every day is different :
From beginner yogis to “advanced” yogis, our Yoga practice looks different every day! We may wobble and come crashing down in tree pose, and on other days it is a walk in the park! Don’t beat yourself up over it, your practice will vary from day-to-day, it just simply means that your body is in need of different things every day.
Honour your body:
One of the 8 limbs of Yoga philosophy is ahimsa, which translates into “non-violence.” Not only does this refer to physical violence, but it also refers to self-harm in the way we speak to ourselves and negative thought patterns (this can be equally as harmful as physical violence). As I mentioned before, Yoga is not a competition, and we should never put pressure on ourselves to get into postures our bodies are not ready for. We need to remember to honour our bodies, and with patience and practice, we will get there (just not at that moment when your ego demands it).
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in our conceptions of what yoga should look like, however, Yoga has a lot more to do with getting out of our egoic minds and being fully present in our bodies. It guides us to focus on our internal world rather than the external. Even though such thoughts may creep up in your practice, don’t beat yourself up and get caught up in negative thought patterns. All you need to do is to gently return your focus back to your practice and back to honouring your body.
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