Maybe it’s your first time in a yoga class, or maybe even your tenth and you’re beginning to think that this is not the exercise for you.
I get it. I was introduced to yoga in high school and while I was able to do the head and shoulder stands, I didn’t learn the mind-body connection until some time later.
Most people who encounter yoga as a young person are in it only for the movement, the exercise, for the “burn” of the exertion of the muscles. They, too, don’t get the mind-body connection.
I’ll be the first to agree that yoga isn’t for everyone, but for anyone who is breathing, they CAN do yoga. So before you quit going to yoga, here are a few things to consider:
1. You might be in the wrong place. Could be the class. Could be the instructor. Could be the type of yoga. When I returned to yoga many years after my high-school headstand triumph, I brought with me a very different body. And I found myself next to a group of lithe young bodies virtually trembling with the effort to remain quiet until the class started. And once it did, they leaped into action. I became so confused watching the instructor, watching them that I very quickly decided that I didn’t want to come to another yoga class as long as I lived. Fortunately, I was persuaded to try one more class, different teacher, different yoga style. And I fell in love.
2. Yoga is a very personal practice. My mistake in the class of young people was that I was trying to keep up with everyone around me. Yoga is not designed for that. Yoga is a very personal practice, and one to be done without judgment. Unfortunately, I was attending a class in a fitness center. The class had over 60 people in it. There was no way the instructor could possibly provide personal attention to someone who had a previous back injury and bad knees. All poses have modifications and a good yoga instructor knows them and will help you. Once I stopped competing with anyone, including myself, my yoga practice became much more effective.
3. Listen to your body. Today I have a twisted knee. I can tell that Monday’s yoga session is going to be different from the one last week because my knee is swollen, tender, and unpredictable. It’s not so bad that I can’t do some of the other poses, but anything that puts pressure on that knee, I’m not going to do. I’ve found a fabulous yoga studio, and I’m getting to know most of the instructors. They are fabulous and when they ask, “Is there anything I should know?” Speak up! They’re asking so that they can be of service to you. I tell them that my knee hurts and they pay attention to me and tell me when something might not work for me today. When it hurts, don’t do it. It’s really that simple.
Yoga is a persona practice. Some days you will want to exert yourself more than others. Other days you will want to focus more on the mind aspect of yoga than the body aspect. Both are right. Go to yoga for yourself. Never for anyone else.