Your first yoga class can be intimidating. You’re in a room full of strangers, some wearing very little clothing, all stretching and contorting their bodies. As you see some of the more experienced students shifting into poses straight out of the cirque du soleil, you may feel a mixture of shock, amazement and embarrassment. How will you ever get to that level? Do you even want to get to that level?! If this sounds like you, we have two words for you: stop it. While you may be a few years off being a top yogi, you have to remember that even the students effortlessly standing on their heads in class were once nervous beginners like you. So if your first yoga class has left you feeling afraid and insecure, here are a handful of reasons why you should keep practicing.
Finding the right teacher is key to developing a yoga practice you feel comfortable with. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a teacher you love right away. For those who don’t, there’s nothing wrong with looking elsewhere. Some teachers are gentle, and others are more demanding of their students. Some will play music you enjoy, and others won’t play music at all. Some will race you through poses like a drill sergeant, and others at a slow pace. There are an endless variety of teachers out there. Keep looking till you find the right one.
Maybe you’ve seen those blocks, blankets and straps sitting in the corner of the classroom. Yes, they can look a bit scary at first, but remember, they’re there to help beginners like you. The block, for example, can help bring the floor higher. So if you’re having trouble touching the ground in triangle pose (the pose where your feet are spread apart so your legs create a triangle shape), use the block. It can prevent you from toppling over and help you stabilize the pose. Just like the block, all props have a distinct purpose that can help beginners tremendously. If you’re confused how a prop can help you, watch how other students use them or better still, ask your instructor.
Besides the teacher, who is there to motivate and train you, no one could care less whether you’re completing a pose or falling on your bum. Other students in class are focusing on their own practice, not you. So if you don’t want to participate in the chanting or breathing exercises, it is completely acceptable. As a beginner, just keep it simple: focus on your poses. Be respectful to your classmates and teacher, and they’ll treat you the same. Go easy on yourself, and you’ll quickly start getting the hang of yoga.
As a yoga newbie, there is no better place to be than the back row. From the back of the classroom, you can easily see how the more experienced students get into, and hold, poses. Of course the teacher is there to help you as well, but watching how others do it can be invaluable.
While it may be hard to believe, even the most advanced students in class are still deepening their yoga practice. That’s why it’s important to remember that yoga is not only a practice, but also a process. You’ll get better over time, but there will never be a point at which you’ve achieved yoga perfection. And you shouldn’t expect to.
In your class, focus on doing the best you can today. With this mindset you’ll soon notice your own progress, which will deepen at one month, six months, a year, five years of practice, and so on.
You’ve probably already heard that yoga can relieve stress, and make you more calm and centered. Today, there is actually some evidence to back it up. Over a three month period in 2005, researchers in Germany observed 24 stressed out women as they participated in two 90-minute yoga sessions a week. At the end of the three months, the women noticed a reduction in their anxiety and depression, and also a 65% boost in their overall feeling of well being. How would you like to experience that?
Remember, no matter how good you are at a given task today, there was once a time when you were a beginner. Yoga is no different. Put in the practice and you’ll eventually be contorting your body into crazy poses like the rest of them. Until then, come down to our studio and benefit from the guidance of our experienced teachers. They are happy to help you become the yogi you are meant to be.