I’ve been with my husband for the whole time I’ve been teaching (quite a few years now!). He has not once (that I recall) stepped foot into a public class of mine. Either HIIT or Yoga. Cry! Poor Kimmy. Lol, but all jokes aside…This is TOTALLY fine by me. Some people love classes, some people don’t. I quite love the fact that we keep some parts of our lives separate – we have a lot of it together. However, what I do know (even if he doesn’t say so himself) is that the reasons he’s probably not coming are the same reasons so many others also don’t come!
So let’s try and make it a little less daunting for you if you’re in the same boat – particularly for yoga. Yoga classes are exciting. Fitness classes are exciting. You can gain a phenomenal amount of energy from those around you in class, and you will learn A TON.
Let’s debunk some common yoga class woes of newbies..
Stepping into your 1st yoga class
Oh I hear ya…going to your 1st ever (or almost 1st ever) yoga class? Here’s a few words that might spring to mind – or at least I remember what sprang to mine…I’m scared, nervous, I have no idea what to expect, I’m “not flexible enough” to be here, I’m not “as good as the person next to me (who looks like she’ll be AMAZING), why is everyone breathing weirdly, I don’t have a mat, am I even wearing the right clothes for this? Am I even in the right type of class to start with? Presumably we’ll just lay around stretching?…I say these things with humour knowing that was ME for a pretty long time. That’s probably why it’s taken you till now to even turn up. Turning up is the half of it I PROMISE.
So as a friendly yoga instructor (at least I hope I’m friendly), let me help get rid of these perfectly normal feelings you might have going into a yoga class. Boys I’m talking to you too (if not more!) – hubby take note.
6 Yoga Woes Debunked
1.I don’t know what I’m doing
“I’m totally going to look like a twat for the entire class” – guess what, loads of people don’t know what they’re doing! Also, guess what…yoga isn’t meant to look a particular way. It’s about listening to your body, moving with YOUR body and YOUR breath, that is going to be and look completely different from the person next to you. Trust the process. As my good friend Phoebe Greenacre always says, it’s called a yoga PRACTICE not a yoga PERFECT. Keep turning up to your mat. Maybe do some at home yoga videos to build confidence between going to class. Although be aware the hands on adjustment and advice you’ll get in class will allow you to create good alignment from the get go. Follow the lead of others in class. Get to grips with the postures (these will likely be similar in most classes), then at a later stage the breath (what we call ujjayi breathing) will come. Patience. Practice. Perseverence. I spent a good number of classes just looking around and following – it comes eventually. Then the magic really happens. As for feeling silly? People (like at the gym) are so involved in what they’re doing they’ll barely notice you’re even there.
2.I’m not flexible enough
OK firstly, yoga is so much more than flexibility, but I can appreciate that it’s largely a reason people start practicing – if it brings more yogi’s on mats I’m a happy yoga teacher. Know that flexibility takes time, energy and a focus on practices like stretching, mobility drills and yes yoga will help. Yep, you just read it…yoga will help any perceived inflexibility that you have. It helps you reach greater ranges of motion in your muscles both on and off the mat. So guess what? That woe is debunked!
3.I’m not as good as the girl next to me
Don’t compare yourself to anyone in the room, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the purely physical form of the practice. Yoga is so much more than that. Too often the ego mind takes over. The postures in yoga didn’t even exist until latter day modern yoga as we now know it. You are you, in all your glory. Your yoga journey has nothing to do with the person next to you. Don’t compare your chapter one to someone else chapter 20. Comparison is the thief of joy and there is absolutely no place for it on your yoga mat. Absolutely be inspired by others but know everyones bodies are different. Just because a gymnast or a dancer can pretzel themselves does not make them any better or worse yogi than you or the next person. You are in a place of non judgement. Work with what you have, be grateful for what you have, be open to what yoga can bring you both on and off the mat.
4.Why is everyone breathing weirdly
OK one thing I want anyone new to yoga to know before stepping in a class room. Yoga is meditation in movement. Meditation involves an acute focus on the breath. By focussing on the breath we are conscious and present in the moment. If we can keep the breath steady throughout challenging parts of our yoga practice this will transfer to times of challenge or stress in our day to day lives. We become more mindful. In yoga we move with the breath – our ujjayi breath. There may be times when that breath might not serve you, but in general we allow our bodies to deepen into the practice further, to still the mind, to explore postures further when we breathe. Without going into too much detail (far past the scope of this post) of why we breath the way we do in yoga, for the newbie, just try to focus on your breath as much as you can. In yoga, this is generally inhaling through the nose and exhaling out through the nose. Throughout the class your flow and the asanas (postures) will challenge that breath. If you feel like you’re wrestling to keep the breath going you’re pushing too hard into the poses. Reset, take a downward dog or childs pose, reconnect with the breath. Even for avid yogi’s we listen to the body and the breath. Our bodies are different every time we turn up to the mat. Listen to what it’s telling you, our bodies are way way way smarter than we give them credit for.
5.I don’t have a mat, am I wearing the right clothes?
You don’t necessarily need a mat when you first start. Most (if not all) studios supply mats, usually at a small charge. Explore the feeling of different mats, see if you enjoy your yoga classes. Eventually the time will come when you’ll want your own, but it’s not imperative at the beginning. Where comfortable clothing, usually sweat wicking leggings/shorts and a tank or t-shirt will do fine. Be prepared that some classes can get sweaty (depending on which you take). Just remember to wipe down your yoga mat as courtesy to the next person using it – usually cleaning tools are provided in class.
6.Which class should I take? I’m guessing we’re going to just lay around for a while?
Depending on which class you’re going to will dictate what you’ll do. There’s lots of different styles and types so be sure to read the description given by the studio and maybe research the teachers background. This will allow you to build a picture of what to expect. As a beginner I’d strongly suggest trying Level 1 based classes. They will teach the basics and the foundations for you to go on with your practice. Vinyasa are usually more fast flowing, Hatha are slower, Yin you hold postures for a lot longer. Whichever you go to know that your teacher will support you and guide you so you will never be far from help. Unless you’re in a specifically slower paced class or Yin, you’re not likely to lay around and stretch (sorry!) People constantly tell me how surprised they are at the challenge of the practice. Relaxation is sometimes a happy side effect of yoga, it is not a function of yoga. Yoga is a discipline requiring strength, balance, focus, there’s a lot more to it than might meet the eye.
The main thing to remember?
Have fun with it. Don’t take it too seriously. Yoga is for EVERYONE. If you have a body, you can do yoga. Ask your teacher after class to explain anything you didn’t understand. Don’t be scared off if the first few classes were very challenging – they’re designed to be challenging – even for fully fledged yogis! Now get your butt to class and start enjoying the journey that yoga can bring you (yes you too boys!) – just GO FOR IT! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain! Let me know how you get on or any of your yoga class woes, I’d love to help you debunk them and get you grooving on your yoga mat!
Sending health & happiness,