NEW TO YOGA?
5 TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
Yoga is nothing new to you unless you have been living under a rock. Most people by now have heard of yoga, know a friend who practices yoga or has even taken a class themselves. Over the past 20 years yoga has made its way to the mainstream. Yoga came to the west in the early 1900’s and the western mind has been mesmerized by the mystery of Eastern thought ever since. Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice that has developed over 5000 years, can even be dated back to the first fire keeping of 1 million years ago and continues to adapt to the modern practitioner. This is what you need to know about yoga as you make your way along this new and surprisingly welcoming practice.
1) Yoga is not a religion
While in many yogic traditions the use of idols for worship is a large part of the practice yoga is not a religion. Those idols have been choosen by devotees who feel connected to a certain God to focus their minds on. Like some in the west feel connected to Jesus and that gives them direction and inspiration. Yoga is in fact a science of the subtle body and works with the mental and physical body as the experiential conduit. This means you don’t have to change your beliefs in god to practice yoga. Yet your belief systems can be changed through yoga if you want them to. That is to say that yoga develops each individual’s capacity to know the truth of themselves and life, which many call enlightenment.
2) Yoga isn’t exercise
While yoga asana (physical postures) has numerous and proven health benefits it is not in fact exercise, as we know the term in the west. Yoga utilizes the physical form as the practitioner understands that it is through the senses of the body mind complex that we know life and experience everything. When the body is healthy the mind is healthy and when the body and mind are healthy the practitioner has the energy and concentration he or she needs to pursue their spiritual and ordinary life endeavors.
3) You don’t have to be flexible to practice yoga
This is one of the funniest things I hear as a yoga teacher. I understand that people who are not flexible feel intimidated to go into a class with other bendy types. However what they don't realize is that yoga will actually make you more flexible. If you start now you will be well on your way to healthy body function.Yoga will stretch you out and make you more flexible. Those who are less flexible will benefit tremendously and perhaps even get more benefit out of yoga then people who are already flexible.
4) You don’t have to be skinny
Another funny myth out there is that one needs to be skinny to practice yoga. I imagine this idea comes from all the images we have of what a yoga practitioner looks like from magazines, advertisements and yoga teachers themselves. Let me tell you something, yoga keeps me thin and will do the same for you. Yoga is not a diet fad or a quick fix, it is a way of life that teaches us how to love and respect our bodies which leads us to optimal self care. When we start to care for our bodies the way yoga teaches us to then we begin to take on new healthier habits and the old unhealthy habits slowly fade away. It happens naturally over a period of time. The more you practice yoga the more you will want the best for yourself and others.You will be less stressed and happier and the extra weight you carry will eventually melt away.
5) Yoga is for everyone
Everyone is different. We have different shapes and sizes, ages, creeds and cultures that make us wonderfully who we are. Yoga is not about conforming to fit a mold but about getting to know our unique selves better. No matter what ones physical, mental or spiritual needs yoga will meet you right where you are and take you where you want to go. It is your commitment to yourself that makes yoga work. It is important that you find a style and teacher that resonates with you. Each teacher and style is different so if one way isn’t working for you try another teacher or studio. Finding the right fit will make yoga pleasurable and you will start to see and feel the results in your body, mind and heart and you will want to keep it up.
If you haven’t been on the mat in a while now is the time to get back on or perhaps give it a try for the first time. Getting to our mats is the hardest part of yoga because it takes effort to make our way to the studio or put work and other obligations aside for an hour. But once you are in the middle of your practice you will start to feel better and by the end of it you will be glad you did.