Welcome to the practice! I’m so pleased you chosen to give yoga a try and begin the wonderful exploration of body, mind and soul. You might be a little nervous, you might even have some reservations. I hope to put your mind at ease, even just a little bit, because I want you to have the best experience possible.
So, here are a few things I would like you to know as you embark on this new adventure in yoga.
We are all beginners. Yep, every single one of us. The roots of yoga are thousands of years old and the writings on the subject are countless. Whether someone has been practicing for a week or many years, we’re all beginners. So, bring your fresh perspective, be willing to learn and join the rest us who have just begun to explore this vast landscape.
Everyone is different. Okay, so you probably know this at some level. Everyone is different in body construction, personal experience, health, injury, outlook, goals, the list goes on forever. The point of this practice is you. So, embrace your quirks, learn from your challenges and enjoy what comes easily. Be committed to customizing the practice for your benefit and growth.
There are no absolutes. This can be really frustrating in the beginning. But, there is no official yoga police that has the final say on alignment, perfect instruction, or ideal mix of spirituality and physicality. The fact of the matter is that the leaders and teachers in this field come from a vastly different experiences (see the above part about how everyone is different) and education tracts. You are going to be presented with harmonious and conflicting instruction. But, good news, you are smart and your body is too. Listen, discern, and choose what fits you. If you are curious, it’s always okay to ask, why a certain technique or alignment was used. If you need help figuring out what works for you, ask for help. But, ultimately trust yourself. You’ve been in your body longer than anyone else. You know a thing or two already.
Instructors, styles and practices are like ice cream – everyone has their favorite flavor. Your best friend might drag you to a class with their favorite teacher and that person or that scenario might not resonate with you. That’s okay. They’re probably mint chip and you might be a strawberry kind of person. Sometimes it takes a little sampling to figure out the perfect mix for you. And our preferences, tastes and needs can change. So you might not be a chocolate fudge person today, but maybe it’s something that will interest you in the future. (Keep an open palate, try something different from time to time.)
Everything is optional. There will come a time when you are challenged in some way. You may be guided into a pose that doesn’t feel right, you may be asked to explore a concept that seems to conflict with your personal tenets. Know that everything is optional. You can take a pause or take a step back at any time. Take the time you need to think about what is going on or to process what you are doing. You may decide what is being offered is a good fit for you or worthy of exploration. You may not, in that case, you can always opt not to participate. (If you choose to take a break or refrain, please try to do it as respectfully as possible to the other members of your yoga community.) Sometimes this looks like taking a resting posture while the rest of the class continues on, or sometimes this means remaining silent while a chant is being led. Selecting what is right for you is an important part of customizing your practice.
So, welcome to yoga. I hope you join our community. It’s a welcoming group and there are lots of ways to participate. Your unique perspective and energy would be a lovely addition.
“Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame.” – B.K.S. Iyengar
Namaste (the light in me honors the light in you),
Great reflection, Suzanne!