My top tips to break the fear and begin the yoga practice
Even the most advanced of yogis at some stage in their yogic life, had to step foot into that sea of lycra and flexible limbs, attempting to move in and out of compromising positions, while breathing slowly and staying calm in heart and mind.
When it’s put like that, it does seem very, very intimidating. But I want to stress to you that it’s not as scary as it seems, and what yoga will be able to bring to your life, if you give it the chance, is well worth the mild timidity that you will experience in your very first sessions.
As a professional yoga teacher and personal trainer I have heard almost every fear under the saluted sun (not very funny yogi joke) towards getting started. I bet I can debunk all of them. If you’ve been ‘umm-ing’ instead of ‘omm-ing' towards embarking on that journey, here are my tips to help you get into it and stay in it;
Tip #1: Mute the dialogue, cut the excuses
For those of you that are true yoga virgins and have not stepped foot into a single class, for whatever reason, then you really need to block out any presumptions you may have about what you think you are going to experience. Those negative assumptions will be creating more fear and resistance to the idea of attempting a class. Open your heart to the possibility of what yoga will bring to your life - health, happiness, flexibility in both body and mind, a zen head space, a more efficient digestive and immune system, better triceps (ok so I snuck that one in there and it’s by no means the reason that we yogis actually practice yoga, but it is true, and who doesn’t want toned arms)
Tip #2: Don’t be fooled - it’s not always relaxing
The Yoga practice is a transformational one. Anyone that has ever been through a transformation will know that it’s not the most comfortable process. Yoga aims to help us transform our mind, body and spirit into a more healthy, unified and ‘aware’ state. This process is rarely relaxing or comfortable. However, by putting you into stressful situations on the mat, while teaching you how to breathe through it, you learn how to take this practice out of the yoga room, and into the meeting room, or classroom, or car that’s stuck in traffic. It gives you to tools to deal with stress while making your body more healthy, flexible and strong.
Tip #3: Know the benefits
Education is the best motivation. By knowing why it’s important to practice Yoga, you immediately drown out any cause for fear or self consciousness. There are so many articles on the benefits of yoga asana, and even more detail on how yoga can heal various ailments and issues within the body. If you enter the Yoga room knowing these potential benefits you’ll feel excited rather than afraid!
Tip #4: Try Vinyasa Yoga
It’s probably the most physically demanding form of yoga, however if you’re coming from a fitness background, this style of yoga will keep your active brain occupied, until you’re slowly ready for meditation and stillness. If you’ve ever looked at yoga and thought ‘It looks boring’, then this is the type for you. It will have you sweating and stretching at the same time that you won’t have any time for boredom.
Tip #5: Try a few different teachers and classes:
I’ve heard so many people say that they tried yoga ONCE and it just wasn’t for them. Once? Once?!!
How many of you remember the first time you had sex? If I thought sex was always going to be like what it was the first time I had evert tried it, I most certainly would never have had it again (no offence Ryan).
So - give it time.
A lot of yoga studios have intro offers where by you can try 2 weeks of Yoga for £25 - some places even give you a month. They do this because they know that one yoga class will not necessarily be enough to know whether it’s for you or not. Likewise, it’s really important to try different teachers, every teacher brings something new to the table and you will resonate more with one than another. Be promiscuous, try as many different teachers as you can in one week!
I will say this however, always listen to your body. Some of my favourite people in the entire world don't do yoga, and it's because they are hyper-mobile and yoga has injured them further. If you are extremely mobile you should be combining yoga with weights or some kind of resistance based exercise to protect your body during the practice.
Either way, I hope this helps you to kick your yogaphobia in the face.