If you’re thinking about starting yoga or have already started and still consider yourself a newbie, you’ve come to the right place. Every one of these tips deserve their own post. Implementing them has the ability to create endless possibilities to positively impact every area of your life. But, for the sake of this article, I will stay focused on beginning yoga because that’s why you’re here after all!
Allow Yourself To Be A Beginner
Whether you like to try new things or not, there’s a reason you are reading this and being called to begin a yoga practice. First, a note to the people who are uncomfortable with being a beginner.
If you’re in the group of people that do not like being a beginner, it can be frustrating to want to be further along than where you’re currently starting from. I used to hate being a beginner and would waste so much energy comparing and competing to over compensate for anything that would have me show up as anything less than “I got this”. I was overly critical of myself and full of self doubt and judgement. It was exhausting! That’s why, when I stumbled upon the concept of allowing myself to begin where I am, a new world opened up for me on and off my mat. I want the same for you, so stick around.
This, in my opinion, is the best way to begin anything new. Giving yourself permission to be a beginner is like taking a breath of fresh air. Any expectations, worries, or fears can immediately be dropped when you allow yourself to be a beginner. In moments of self doubt or frustration, when you remind yourself that you’re brand new at this, the entire experience can be fun and exciting. Allowing yourself to be where you are not only creates space for you to enjoy yoga, it leaves room for you to make new discoveries about yourself. This simple concept has the power of introducing freedom, ease, and playfulness on and off of your mat.
Listen To Your Body
You hold, within your own body, an incredible amount of wisdom. Whether you know it or not your body is constantly ‘talking’ to you. “Listen to your body” is a popular cue in yoga and when you’re a beginner, it can be odd trying to figure out what that actually means.
Start simple and remember that yoga shouldn’t hurt. It’s normal to feel new sensations as your body is opening up and being challenged. However, if you feel any sharp pain, pull back and go to a resting pose such as child’s pose. There is absolutely no need to try and push past pain that can derail you from the experience of your body’s evolution throughout a sustained yoga practice.
When you actively listen to your body, you will know what feels good and productive versus what feels like agitation and if you’re not sure then always err on the side of caution. It’s totally okay to go slow and steady. Modifications are normally given so that can be a great place to start to ease into each pose. As you continue your practice you will notice your connection to your body will deepen and it will be easier to tune in.
Your Breath Is Your Best Friend
Don’t forget to breathe. I know that sounds silly, but in yoga it’s essential to pay attention to your breath. The instructor will give verbal cues to move with your breath which is always helpful. Breath is our life force, it moves energy, releases stress and tension, and connects us to the present moment. When I first started paying attention to my breathing, I realized how much I hold my breath and how shallow my breathing was constantly. That realization alone led to its own transformation.
Make your breath your best friend by putting even more attention on it and notice where you are holding your breath or when it becomes choppy, shallow, or rigid. When we breathe in an even and relaxed way we are sending signals to our body that will allow it to release tension and create ease around what we are doing. If all you do on your mat is breathe you will have accomplished more than most realize.
Set An Intention
At the beginning of class you will have the opportunity to connect with your body and breath. Sometimes the instructor will verbalize that this is a good time to set an intention to cue you to do so. If not, set an intention for your practice at this time anyway. It’s important because even if you are beginning yoga for the physical health benefits, your intention for that block of time adds even more mindfulness into your well being physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Don’t overthink it. Whatever comes to mind in that moment is there for you to create an intention. For example, maybe your work life balance has been out of sync and you are aware of it. Begin your practice with the intention of “I am restoring balance” or “I intend to have clarity on my boundaries”. Another example is for those days where you just don’t want to. You step onto your mat, your mind’s racing, your energy levels are low, and your mood is not the greatest; set an intention like “I accept myself wholeheartedly” or “I intend to love myself today”. Of course do this in your own words and how it will best resonate with you each time.
As you go through your practice of mindful movement and focused breathing, stagnant energy will move and your intention will begin to integrate as you ground, release, and open up.
Bringing gratitude to your practice is so beneficial. Acknowledging everything you just accomplished and moved through is not something to be stepped over. When we are grateful, we are experiencing a heightened emotion that really seals our practice and invites more things to be grateful for. Gratitude is sacred. You, the instructor, and fellow students are as well so don’t forget to give thanks.
Each class is ended with palms pushed together in front of your heart with a verbal “Namaste”, which literally means “I bow to you”. Another popular definition is “The Divine in me honors the Divine in you.” which brings acknowledgment not only to yourself but to the people around you.