So many people I’ve met say ‘I’d love to try Yoga but I’m too stiff/inflexible/old/overweight/out-of-shape/tight/stressed/tired/insert-many-other-reasons-here’!
It can sure seem daunting; we’re flooded now with many media images of impossible-seeming poses by people on mountain tops in the latest ‘Yoga threads’ & while that may serve to highlight Yoga’s popularity, it does little to attract us everyday people into a practice that could greatly help us but seems so beyond us right now.
Well, take heart! Forget the Insta-poses & the understandable thoughts & fears of not fitting in.
Yoga really is for ‘every-body’. Not only is there a class, type & teacher just right for you, so many of the myths that surround Yoga are just not true & do not reflect either Yoga’s origins or realities. Let’s tackle a few of the top excuses that keep us away from class.
1. But I’m too inflexible.
Well that’s one of the many benefits of Yoga asana (poses); it helps with bringing flexibility back into your body, emphasis on ‘YOUR”. There are no ‘pre-qualifications’ for Yoga; you don’t have to be at a certain level of ‘bendiness’ to try your first class. All you truly need is a flexible mind & attitude; one that allows you to come to class with a ‘Beginner’s Mind’ so that you can be receptive to starting something new, taking it at your own pace & comfort level & mindfully developing your practice over time.
2. But I’m too old/overweight.
This is similar to people shying away from exercise or movement in general; we create barriers that really are not there. Yoga is adaptable for everyone; there is ‘Chair’ Yoga for those with mobility issues, there are modifications for people whose body shape or type restricts certain movements; there are many teachers who have experience with adapting poses for ALL in class.
It is so important to remember that ALL body types, body sizes & ages are not the same; there are 90+ year old Yogis who would put teenagers stretching ability to shame, there are ‘plus-size’ Yoga teachers who have extremely advanced practices & there are very ‘fit’ people who race up mountains & swim oceans who cannot touch their toes.
Everyone is different; everyone has different shape limbs, injury & illness histories & conditions. Even just our lifestyles, like sitting for too long and/or having stress-related tension, affect our ability to move freely. Please don’t let your age or weight act as a barrier that keeps you away from Yoga or other activities that could bring you ease, pleasure & relaxation.
3. But I’m too busy.
You more than anyone need Yoga then! The cult, the modern malaise, of ‘busyness’ is one of our worst stressors, one of the greatest causes for our social disconnection from each other & one of the worst sources of ill-health.
Committing to a Yoga practice is one of the best ways to help undo this busyness ‘curse’. By scheduling in a class, by making yourself go & by ‘unplugging’ for a certain time from all sources of ‘input’ (like phones, work, screens, noise, chat etc), you give your over-taxed adrenals & central nervous system a chance to recover, to slow down, to unwind. Initially it may well seem like one more ‘chore’, one more thing to ‘race to’ but very soon, it will become your haven, your self-care boon, your gift of time & mind-body relaxation to yourself.
4. But I don’t have the right gear/clothes/look/I won’t ‘fit in’…
You might have guessed my answer already to this one - IT DOESN’T MATTER!
I remember trying three different gyms, over the course of maybe 5 years. I kept thinking it’d be a bit like Goldilocks & the 3 Bears with their porridge, eventually one would be ‘just right’.
Gyms & aerobics classes were becoming mega-big again at that point & I was as easily swayed by marketing & peer-pressure as anyone else. But the gym scene just wouldn’t ‘stick’ with me; I inherently associate ‘working out’ with fresh air & nature. I just couldn’t get into the whole ‘drive somewhere with gear to exercise/change/workout/shower/change/drive again’ routine let alone feel comfortable with all the MIRRORS everywhere. Very often, the crazy loud music & ummm, also the grunting in the weights area in particular was incredibly off-putting. Each to their own of course but it just wasn’t me.
That is why I just re-devoted myself to my Yoga. The atmosphere in most classes is generally always chilled; even if there’s nice, mellow music, it’s very much usually in the background. There are no MIRRORS (HURRAH!) & you can pretty much wear what you want as long as it’s comfy - your GAA jersey & shorts, a tracksuit, a t-shirt & harem pants, leggings & a hoodie, whatever - as long as it lets you move freely, it is ‘right’.
5. But I’m not into ‘woo-woo’ crystals, unicorns & chanting…
Well LOTS of Yoga teachers & practitioners aren't either! Maybe some are but it sure doesn’t come up all the time in your average Yoga class. People come to Yoga class for all kinds of reasons, from all kinds of backgrounds & they have all kinds of interests, beliefs & lifestyles. Same goes for Yoga teachers. The main ‘gist’ of your typical Yoga class is to come together to shift energy in our bodies & minds, to come unstuck in areas that feel stuck & to leave class feeling more relaxed & at ease in our beings.
Yes, there are classes & teachers out there who may include a little chanting. If they do, why not give it a try? It is after all just a kind of singing & actually has distinct physiological benefits for us. Perhaps some classes may have a focus or theme that is unfamiliar to us. Well, that too, just literally trying something new, is of benefit to us; trying something new stimulates new connections (neural pathways) in our brains which helps keep us mentally nimble.
But the great thing is, there are now so many different classes, teachers & places where we can try Yoga, that you will easily enough find the ‘right’ one for you. Bear in mind, it does pay to stick with a class or teacher for at least a ‘course’ or a good few weeks; you cannot base your new practice on your first try. Stick with it & then re-assess. And then try another class til you find one, like Goldilocks, that’s ‘just right’.
If you have any questions on starting a Yoga practice or would like to get in touch about my new Beginner’s 6-week Course beginning Wed March 1st, please get in touch.