guest post by Wendy Swanson
Yoga, for many of us, can feel particularly intimidating, especially if we follow any “famous” yogi on social media and see lots of pretzel poses done flawlessly, in full makeup and expensive clothing (by the way, this is not really what yoga is all about and most of us do not look like that).
The best tips for beginner yogis
To help ease beginner angst, below are some tips on starting a yoga practice outside of our own homes:
- Bring your humor to the mat and leave your perfectionism and self-critical parts at home. If I’m feeling particularly self-conscious I remind myself that people are usually more concerned with themselves than with me. I’m super important to my Mom but not the stranger on the mat next to me.
- Try at least 5 different classes and 2 or 3 different studios/communities before deciding whether yoga is or is not for you. There are lots of flavors of yoga these days. There is yoga that is slow and meditative and there is yoga that is fast and sweaty and everything in between. Find out what is best for YOU.
- Identify 2 or 3 of your personal goals around yoga and then talk with the teacher or desk staff. They can help steer you in a direction that matches your needs.
- Nitty Gritty Pro-tip: no shoes in the yoga room & wear comfortable clothing that stays put when you bend forward (ie you may not want your shirt coming up over your head)
- Let the teacher know if you are pregnant, have been injured, or have any health issues that they should know about to keep you safe. They are trained to give modifications and will do their utmost to make certain your class is an enjoyable experience.
Overcoming beginner’s resistance
Some other “fun” demons that sometimes rear their ugly head are resistance, doubt and second guessing. Think back to some of the bigger moments and decisions in your life and I bet you will find these guys hanging out. Recently I went on life changing retreat and for weeks leading up to the retreat I thought about backing out. My resistance to change and doing something new showed up in the form of: “I don’t have the money, so I should cancel”; “My family really needs me, so I should stay home”; “My business is super busy right now so this is really not a good time. I should cancel”. There are parts to me and to you that want us to stay small, play it safe and never ever change. These parts stem from aspects that have experienced hurt and pain in our past. They are valid parts of us AND we need to not have them running the show.
Living outside of fear
I find that when I allow these parts to have a voice and at the same time not run the show, I can make decisions from a grounded and centered place. I literally picture myself stepping into my higher/ spiritual self and asking that part, that truly has my best interest in mind, what I need to do. A vibrant, joyous and fulfilling life comes from paying closer attention to our higher self that promotes growth, self-love, connection and abundance. It was a game changer when I realized that my overly practical side was just resistance cleverly disguised. I encourage you to ask yourself “what part of me is talking right now?”
Connect to your higher self
The practices of yoga and meditation can help us know our higher self a bit better. Taking time to retreat can help us profoundly understand ourselves so that we can have the life we dream of. Our dreams can then move from imagination into reality.
I invite you to bravely stand up to the parts of you that hold you back and go take that yoga class or go on retreat. Your soul will thank you.
This piece originally published on The Art of Living Retreat Center
Wendy Swanson, L.Ac, E-RYT 200
Wendy is a healer, transformational leader, yoga teacher and licensed acupuncturist. She is the owner of Be Yoga & Wellness in Charlotte, NC; and is currently studying at Kripalu for her 500 hour yoga certification.