Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.
A lot of people will ask me about yoga, express interest in trying yoga, but then have a reason for why there is no way they would be able to do it:
“I can’t do yoga because…
…I’m not flexible enough
This is like saying you can’t go to the gym to get into shape because you’re not in good enough shape. Yoga helps build flexibility; flexibility is not a prerequisite for practicing yoga. Props are there to help (and look around, you’ll hardly be the only person using them).
…Everyone will be looking at me
Ok, I know I just said “look around”, but honestly other students aren’t really paying attention to you. They’ll see you, they will see other people in the class, but they are focused on trying to do the poses, remembering to breathe, and maybe worrying how they look to other people. Chances are they won’t remember (or care) whether or not you balanced in crow pose. Unless you’re wearing some skintight booty shorts or other eye-catching attire, the teacher is the only one who’s likely to pay you much notice.
…the teacher will probably be correcting me the whole time
I used to take any kind of correction or adjustment by the instructor as a sign that I was doing the poses poorly and just wasn’t getting it at all. From practicing and teaching, I’ve learned to appreciate (and sometimes even love) adjustments. First off, if you’ve never done yoga before, you’re going to need some correction. You are not expected to get it immediately. There’s a reason people practice the same poses over and over–there is always something to learn and refine about a pose on any given day. Secondly, assists also can help give you resistance or a release that you can’t get by yourself. Finally, touch can be a powerful tool to bring you into your body and connect your breath to different areas of your body.
…I won’t be able to do the poses
There is always a version of a pose for everyone. It may not look like what everyone else is doing, but there is some version of the pose you can do. Even if a pose is out of the question because of an injury, there is always a related option to do that will give you similar benefits. In my advanced teacher training, even though we had a group of experienced teachers, you would often find at least five different variations on any given pose. People were always adapting the pose to accommodate physical ability, injuries, or other limitations so that practice was serving their needs.
…it’s not enough of a workout
There’s a stereotype about yoga class being a place where you just sit in lotus with your eyes closed chanting “Om”. While there are some gentle forms of yoga that don’t involve a lot of movement, let’s just say Forrest Yoga does not fall into that category. If you haven’t tried a Forrest Yoga class, I encourage you experience the sweat pouring out of you during the class and then assess if it’s giving you a workout.
“If you can breath you can do yoga.”