New to Yoga

Megan Sappington, RYT

“Yoga: That stretchy-bendy-relaxing thing that everyone’s talking about, that everyone’s doing these days, the one thing I want to try, but I am worried about not being flexible enough/strong enough/thin enough/(fill in the blank)…”

I have been there.

And I found relief and bliss on the mat immediately.

I’ll let you in on a secret: Yoga is a lot like chocolate. How do you explain the experience of enjoying a good chocolate? Can you put it into words? Can you tell others how it makes you feel? The experience itself is beyond words. It must be felt.

Your first yoga class may be a very unique and mysterious experience. Fellow students are relaxing and stretching. Some may be meditating, others chatting about their day. When class begins, your teacher will gently remind you to practice self-awareness, not self-improvement. And you are given permission to simply feel, not judge.

This particular aspect of yoga can be hard to grasp. In the West, we tend to view exercise as harder, faster, stronger, with an emphasis on competition. Yoga, however, looks to balance effort with ease. Ease is encouraged, and competition is discouraged. It is your own personal attention to your body’s edge that makes yoga unique. And that inward attention changes everything. You are incomparable, so the experience of your body is as well. Paradoxically, simply looking at your edge, physically and mentally, changes it. It is a fluid boundary, based on you, not the teacher, and certainly not other students. What may seem impossible today, becomes your reality tomorrow. This is the mystery of Yoga.

Yoga Tip #1: NO JUDGMENT OF YOURSELF.

As class begins, you will start to move into stretches and postures that will seem awkward at first. Remember trying to learn how to ride a bike? Or swim? Everything is difficult before it is easy. Take your time, breathe and tap into what you are feeling rather than labeling the experience as good or bad. You may soon find yourself completely immersed in a profound relief, mentally and physically. Time seems to slow down in a yoga class. Breath and sensation is all that you need to focus on. We let go of an agenda. We let go of the to-do list. We…Let…Go…and simply feel.

Yoga Tip #2: BREATHE.

Your one faithful companion throughout your life is your breath. Breath and yoga are intertwined inexorably. Your teacher will most likely tell you when and how to breathe. Follow her instructions as you move into and out of postures, and allow your breathing to become deep and full. This may be challenging, as most of us move through life with a rigid belly. Give yourself permission to let go here. A steady, deep breath leads to a steady mind. Beyond gaining strength and flexibility, an awareness of the mind, particularly through breathing, is one of the biggest benefits of yoga….

Yoga Tip #3: LISTEN TO YOUR MIND.

“Whether you believe you can, or whether you believe you cannot…You’re right.”Henry Ford.

Our mind plays the biggest influence on our daily life and can limit the amount of happiness we allow ourselves to experience. More often than not, we become a slave to the mind and the stories we create. It can become an endless loop of half-truths that define our reality. Yoga teaches you how to step back from the tape, look at it, examine it and reprogram it. Quite frankly, we create our reality, and we have the ability to rewrite it. We are able to still the waters of our turbulent minds. It can be done, and has been for thousands of years. Yoga works. As the oldest philosophical system in the history of the world, yoga has been proven trustworthy.

Try to get the most from your yoga experience by following these three tips…

No Judgment. Breathe. Listen.

You will soon find yourself letting go of resistance, physically and mentally. You will find yourself feeling healthier and happier. You will find yourself knowing, really knowing, the only person you’ll spend the rest of your life with….YOU.

Knowing yourself allows gratitude and happiness to become a real fixture in your life, independent of the fluctuations around you. After all, life is constant change, but you can have an anchor into the safe harbor of you. Yoga will teach you how to navigate the turbulent waters of life with more ease, grace, patience, compassion, strength and flexibility. Trust your journey. The Yoga Studio is here to help guide you.

Namaste (I honor myself, and I honor you)