Did you know that cultures across the world have practiced yoga for at least 5,000 years? Originating in India, the practice of yoga has been utilized as a potent methodology for taking care and prioritizing the health of both body and mind. In recent years yoga has exploded in popularity across many cities in the United States, meaning there’s a likelihood you have at least one, if not several yoga studios within proximity to your house!
Are you looking for something new to shake up your routine prioritize your health and happiness? Yoga may be precisely what you are looking for! Like most things worth doing in life, the hardest part of starting yoga for me was building the confidence to show up for that first class. Dozens of classes later, I can say somewhat humorously that I am still a beginner but have learned enough that I feel confident in pointing newcomers in the right direction as far as where to start.
Here are the most important things I have learned about yoga since beginning my practice that will get you off on the right foot.
It’s As Much Mental As Physical
There is no denying that many of the positions in yoga can be very challenging for newcomers. Some require a high degree of mobility through the joints, as well as the ability to stabilize and balance muscles you may have never engaged before. I think most people have a good understanding of this coming in. What I didn’t realize, and I can’t imagine I’m in the minority here, is that yoga is at least as challenging mentally. The truth is that holding the positions asked of you in yoga requires you to sit in discomfort, sometimes for minutes at a time. During these moments it’s common to get frustrated and irritable. Don’t worry; it’s all part of the process!
It All Comes Down To Breathing
Maintaining a steady inhale and exhale of your breath is critical to your yoga practice. Instructors will often mention this in class, but what may not be as obvious is that even something as simple as breathing takes practice! Just as your mobility will improve over time, your ability to breathe through and find comfort in the stretches will be a work in progress. If you feel lost in class, return to a comfortable pose and fall back into your breath… fill your belly first!
Consistency Is Everything
Throughout your practice you will have good classes and bad classes. You will have days where you feel you made a ton of progress and others where it feels like you have taken ten steps in the wrong direction. It’s essential not to get too caught up in either of these ends of the spectrum. In reality, your body will be more apt to stretch and bend some days than others. You might be ready to focus one day and find yourself in the zone, only to return the next day and have it all fall apart. The trick to yoga seems to be showing up regardless of how your last class went with the faith that the next class will be exactly what you need that day, regardless of if it feels that way.
Yoga will challenge you in ways you didn’t realize, hopefully allowing you to harness an inner strength and poise you didn’t know you had. Stick with it when times get tough, and don’t forget to appreciate the moments when it all clicks. Taking time to focus on yourself, physically and mentally, is a victory in an of itself.
See you on your mat in class!