When we talk to beginning yogis, very often they say that yoga isn’t for them because they aren’t flexible enough, young enough or fit enough… but all these statements are myths! Yoga can be practiced at any age and any time. As in life, any beginning can be fearful because of the unknown which is natural, we don’t know what to expect, but this feeling disappears as soon as we set foot on a mat.
Whether you are totally new to yoga or returning after an extended break, here are a few tips for beginning yogis to help you move mental barriers and get the most out of the yoga experience.
First of all, we advise you to choose a class that is specifically designed for beginners, where you will learn foundation poses, alignment and breathing techniques (pranayama). Gentle classes are also advised such as Yin Yoga or Hatha Yoga which will allow you to comfortably learn the poses (asanas) and breath through it. Yoga is a cumulative practice, and with each class you take, the impact it has on your life will continue to increase. Try different styles of classes and different teachers and keep coming back to learn how to grow your practice!
Every yoga journey is unique and will differ from the person on the mat next to you. Let go of any expectations that you may have of your body or yourself. Show up on the mat with an open heart and an open mind. There is no need to compare yourself to others. You will find that what you will experience will be unique and joyful. You will maybe also see yoga as your sanctuary where you get to step out of the craziness of life and reconnect with yourself.
Everybody (every-Body) can do yoga. No matter the age, weight, shape or size. As you start your journey into yoga, your teacher will encourage you to “listen to your body”. As you grow in your practice, your connection to your body will allow you to really “feel” the pose and also feel what is right for you. You may have to modify and adjust some poses in the beginning, but by listening to your body, it will help improve your practice. You may notice new sensations, challenges or openings in your body. If you are ever in doubt whether what you are feeling is safe, come out of the pose. Your yoga teacher can help you find the adjustments you need as you go along.
Our favorite teacher used to say that yoga isn’t yoga if we don’t breathe. The connection to our breath helps us to connect to the pose, mind, and spirit. It is the channel that unifies them all. Pranayama (breathing techniques) is part of the 8 limbs described by Patañjali in the yoga sutras and can be seen as the foundation of yoga. We advise you to breathe calmly and deeply by observing your breath. Let it move you into the pose and try to apply the breathing technique called “Ujjayi” if you can. Allow the calming effect to reset your body and mind.
Listen to your teacher and try to focus on the pose, your breath, and your gaze. The gaze helps us to concentrate and stay within. Keep your eyes on your own mat in order to focus on moving through the class in a way that serves your body and your needs. Try not to let your mind going in other spheres and always be in the present moment. You may be indeed disturbed by thoughts or sensations, then simply go back to observing your breath.
You will stretch your body in all directions so make sure to wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move freely. Choose a good mat that is anti-slip, it will avoid slipping and be at ease moving through the poses. Make sure that the mat you use is thick enough as it will serve as a cushion for your knees and full body protection. Check out our eco-friendly mats on We Are Wild or our online shop https://myogashop.ch/.
Finally, as Pattabhi Jois used to say, don’t forget that:
“Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory”
“Practice and all is coming”