10 Things I wish I knew when I started yoga

September 4, 2017

 

"Hindsight is always twenty-twenty" - Billy Wilder

 


1) You'll never perfect any yoga posture 

Yep thats right,. you've been trying for months to get your fingertips to the floor in forward fold and then the day it finally happens, your teacher tells you ... 'now put your hands flat'. When that happens its time to step on your hands, then touch your nose to your knees, then wrap your arms behind your legs etc etc! For every yoga posture you can bet your ass-ana that some creative yogi has come up with a 'progression'. The moral of the story? There is no end point, and while its great to have goals and something to work towards, the key really is to fall in love with the practice (the process) rather than the achievement of the posture (the perceived end point). We don't get to decide the day we float up into crow pose but we can decide to show up day after day on our mats and put the work in. And what a metaphor for life... we can never control the outcome but what we can control is our efforts.

2) You don't need to be flexible to start yoga

Yoga teachers ... how any times have we heard this one? "I'd be rubbish at yoga because I'm not flexible". Right ... and what do you think we go to yoga for? Flexibility doesn't just refer to bending yourself into pretzel like positions, flexibility is also an attitude and a state of mind and statements like this demonstrate inflexibility. I can't, I won't etc. Whichever way you look at it, lack of bodily flexibility isn't a reason not to try yoga. On the one hand, now that we're not chasing the achievement of a posture, it doesn't matter if your hands never touch the floor in that forward fold. On the other hand, if you are tight, regular yoga practice will undoubtably improve this. The only inflexibility that WILL impact your practice is the inflexibility of your mind. Worth a thought!

3) You will cry in the middle of practice

I distinctly remember when this first happened and it shocked the hell out of me! It wasn't during a yin class or in the middle of a poignant song in savasana, it was slap bang in the middle of 10 sun salutations ... at the start of Ashtanga practice. WFT?? No-one told me this happens so I spent the next 90 minutes trying to hide my tears, dripping snot onto my mat and soaking my sports bra. Yoga makes you emotional ... it's supposed to ... and it's nothing to be embarrassed about. One of the biggest teachings of yoga is to let go of that which no longer serves us and this release often comes in the form of emotions. It's a beautiful thing, go with it, and know that we are here to support you.

4) You will start caring more about nature

The ultimate state of yoga is oneness, where you begin to understand your connection to all living things. You get glimpses of it when you listen to the sounds of nature during meditation and when your breath seems to synchronise with everyone elses during savasana.  This feeling of being 'at one' with all that is eventually spills over into your daily life.  You're probably gonna start caring more about the environment which could mean saying no to plastic bottles, straws and packaging, eating less meat or making more conscious choices about the animal products you consume and reducing your carbon footprint as best you can. 

5) Yoga chicks are not as intimidating as they look

With their shiny, swingy ponytails, super tight pants, latest Lululemon yoga bras and abs for days, yoga chicks can look a bit like the crew of 'Mean Girls'. Please try to leave your judgments at the door. There are unfortunately some people in the yoga world who judge others on how they look. Just because these girls are wearing tight workout clothes and have make-up on does not make them narcissists, likewise if they choose to post pictures of themselves doing handstands on Instagram... and even if they are, that's their right to express themselves as they wish, right?  Take a minute to speak to people at your yoga studio and I bet you'll find they're not intimidating at all. Yoga is about acceptance and non-judgment ... practice it, and if that chick is indeed a yogi, she'll respond to you in the same way :)

6) You don't need fancy $100 Lululemon pants ... or a Lifeforme yoga mat

Listen, I love a pair of fancy yoga pants as much as the next girl but if you're just starting out, please don't feel you need to go spending truck loads of cash on the latest performance yoga gear. Honestly all you need to start out is a couple of pairs of stretchy pants and a few tank tops. Most studios supply all the equipment you need. If and when you decide to develop a home practice, then its time to get a good quality yoga mat and maybe a yoga block and strap. 

7) If you're a beginner, don't hang out right at the back of the class

You've come to a class to learn right? I know it's scary to go at the front but honestly, if you're right at the back you wont be able to see the teacher and your chances of getting any hands on assists are pretty minimal, especially if you're in a class of 40 plus students. Plus, if you're in one of my classes, we usually change directions at some point so the back row becomes the front row ... sneaky! Here's the compromise, go somewhere in the middle. Now you can clearly see the teacher's mat and we can get our hands on you. Also which ever way you're facing, you now have someone in front of you to copy if needed ... you're welcome ;)

8) People will fart in class

...and you will be dying to laugh. Personally, when it happens in my classes I encourage a good giggle. Yoga gets things moving after all! Top tip, try not to eat anything heavy a couple of hours before your class. That bean chilli won't seem like such a good idea when you find out your teacher has planned 90 minutes of twists and core! 

9) You will start wearing 'stretchy stuff' ... all the time

Putting on that tailored office suit after your lunchtime yoga class is going to start feeling like wearing a strait jacket. Watch as every item of clothing you own starts to have a higher lycra content. Are you starting to wear your yoga pants on days when you aren't going to class? (good). Have you worn them on a night out, refusing to wiggle into a skirt you cant even walk in (very good). And when you get far down the rabbit hole like me, you'll only own 'stretchy stuff', prefer to sit cross legged on the floor to eat and will refuse to wear shoes. If this is you ... congratulations and welcome to the weird club of yoga!

10) You might not love yoga at first

Some of you know this already but I literally hated yoga when I first started and I continued to struggle with it for the first year. I was (and still sometimes am) a perfectionist. I used to beat myself up when I couldn't 'do' the asanas. The pattern was on repeat ... I would get frustrated, then push myself, then injure myself, then feel sorry for myself, then give up. It was in these phases on giving up and not practicing that I realised how much better I felt when I was doing yoga and so the gaps got less and less. As my body slowly started opening up so did my outlook on life and I started to see how I was becoming calmer, nicer to be around and generally more 'centred'. For me, it wasn't until I realised what was happening off the mat that I started to connect to what I was doing on the mat. It took me a year ... be patient, persevere and it will come :)

With love always,

Jenn

xxx

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