Never underestimate the importance of a regular yoga practice; that being said, on the other hand, don’t over-estimate what the more experienced yogi practicing next to you is doing either. There are a few tips that I would have welcomed when I began, and some things I still catch myself having to remember.
- Get enough rest, every day. I know, this seems obvious, but it’s often over-looked. If you aren’t rested, and you wake up in the morning about to go to class, or start your home practice, all you’re going to be thinking is about how tired you are. The point of a yoga practice is to be fully present with every breath and every movement you make. When you haven’t gotten enough sleep, your mind is likely to wander thinking about how difficult balancing and strength asanas are.
- Quiet The Mind; Turn Off Your Worst Critic. We are single-handedly, our own worst critics when it comes to anything. We assume we can’t do something, we think others are judging us, but really that is all made up in our own minds. Know that everyone that showed up to class (even if it’s a jam-packed room) is there for their own benefit; not to judge you or your practice. Don’t think too much about how or why your body isn’t cooperating to nail that balance posture, or if you can’t handle that last chaturanga, just do your best for right now. If your best is to take child’s pose for half of the class, so be it. The most important part is that you showed up to your mat with the good intentions of being your best version of yourself. Some days I find myself ‘nailing’ my handstand practice, and other days I fall over and over. It’s dependant on how well you can silence your own judgments about yourself.
- Don’t underestimate breathing deeply. Typically during a practice, it is instructed to take one breath per movement (in is one movement and out is another). If you find yourself gasping for air halfway through your practice, do your body a favor and stop to catch your breath. You will not feel at ease or calm afterwards if you have been breathing shallowly the entire time. There is no shame what so ever is stopping what is being instructed, to make sure you are breathing properly. If you focus on your breath during your class, you are being fully present, and not worrying about others around you.
- Try different types of yoga. There are so many styles of yoga nowadays, that there is sure to be a style for everyone. A good starting point is a Hatha style of yoga, which gears towards a bit more of a gentle practice, than for example, a hot yoga class, that sets the room temp high so you have a good sweat. Vinyasa yoga is a more dynamic, active style of yoga where you are moving constantly rarely holding poses for more than a breath or two. Yin yoga requires that you hold poses longer and more deeply, exploring myofascial release, which is a great compliment to any other more dynamic practice. The list goes on and on, and I challenge you to explore any type of studio that is accessible to you in your area, and don’t forget to utilize the wondrous internet, where places like YouTube make a yoga class extremely accessible.
I hope these tips help bring ease to beginning a practice of your own.
If there is only one thing to remember when you show up, it should be that every single person in that room, teacher included, all at one point had their very first day of yoga, so put your mind at ease because they are just grateful that one more person is showing up to better themselves and contribute to a growing, thriving community.