I’ve been meeting many people who really want to develop a yoga practice. Their first couple of experiences, though, have been challenging.
When I hear this, I always ask them, “how bad do you want to practice yoga, what are you willing to go through, are you up for being annoyed, how about feeling frustrated?”
In yoga, like many things in life, you have to be willing to be “not so good” for awhile before you can be good.
I was assuring a potential new student today that the journey to having her very own yoga practice would not be easy. She was describing one of her first classes–feeling tight, awkward, annoyed and not doing the poses correctly. “Get used to feeling that way for at least a little while”, I said.
Yoga, if you really want it, will be a journey. The journey will be worth the gold but you will pay with many different emotions and many of them are not pleasant.
For me, I can still vividly recall the first class I went to–it was an Ashtanga Mysore class. The class was advertised as “all levels welcome” (beginners/intermediate/advanced).
It was one of those rare 90 degree days in Santa Monica and I was sweating profusely.
I didn’t know any of the postures, it was literally my first class. There wasn’t a teacher in front of the room leading the class because in that style of Ashtanga, the teacher walks around assisting each person in “their own” individual practices. I had no practice so my eyes were wandering around looking to see what to do next.
What I saw was so intimidating…standing splits, legs around their heads, arms and legs wrapping around like pretzels, etc. It was amazing. I was definitely not in the right place!
It was one of the most frustrating experiences to look around the room at advanced practitioners and be so elementary as to not know any of the poses. I made it through the 2 hour class and I had a big decision to make.
Was I going to let the humiliation make me quit or was I going to start at a level 1 class and learn everything I could?
I am so glad I chose to start from the beginning and progress through the levels. Gosh, everything is a process. I took my time, I learned the poses and I am still learning new poses 23 years later.
I can remember those beginning days of yoga, just getting to the class was a big deal.
I would get into the room before the class even started and feel thrilled that I was there. At least I was there, now I just needed to endure all the growing pains it took to learn and develop as a practitioner.
Some of my male friends joke about wanting to take yoga simply to be in a class full of women– I always laugh silently to myself because I know it will take so much more than that to keep on getting themselves in that classroom.
Yoga is a path that will look different to each and every person, but one thing is identical for all–yoga is an inside job. There will be a bit of a struggle inside while your body struggles with the outside poses.
You will feel so many different emotions–anxiety, frustration, and humiliation are a few of them.
Then, your ego will find ways to celebrate how great you are. Those don’t feel as bad, but still, that’s not part of the yogi’s path. Your ego will be struggling every step of the way, whether it is chatter that makes you feel good or chatter that makes you feel bad.
Yoga, the best of it, is about letting your ego go and just being present with your breath.
Practicing yoga is all yours. There will be times that you feel proud and accomplished and there will be times you feel deflated and disillusioned. You will seriously consider quitting, but if you are committed, you will endure.
When you get to the other side of the uneasiness, you will have something so worthy and tangible. You can depend on it like when you first learned how to ride a bike. You can always hop on the bike and ride–the same is true with yoga.
You can take your yoga practice with you anywhere you go and it will always serve you.
I urge and encourage you–if you are wanting to develop a physical practice that will serve your mind and body year after year, practice yoga and keep practicing. Don’t let your ego convince you to quit.
Yoga has been a miracle for many people and helped them heal physical ailments that seemed otherwise incurable.
I don’t have any miraculous stories, but it did make my knees stronger and I became a runner. Yoga took me further and further away from the sometimes obsessive/compulsive chatter in my head and into the present moment. I learned to let go and go with the flow.
I learned to just breathe and know that I could get through anything. Come to think of it, those are miraculous!
Oh what I have overcome. As Michael Beckwith said this morning, “hear what my words cannot convey”.
The words I choose cannot convey the prize that awaits you.
Only you can find it within yourself to step into the unknown and cultivate a practice that will continue to unfold. Take the first step and you just may find your prize!
If you would like to start a home practice, send me an email: [email protected]
I am in the process of creating some great content for those who are beginners or have been out of the game for a long time. If there is enough interest, I will make it happen. It’s a flooded field I know, but I have a real soft spot for people who have been out of the game for too long or who are total beginners. I want to put you at ease, make you feel safe and empowered. Yoga is Gold–the most valuable commodity your body will ever know!