When I first started my teaching journey, I had an enthusiasm like nothing I’d ever felt before. It was like someone had spiked my peppermint tea with rocket fuel, I was so full of energy, excitement and creativity & so keen to share all of the wonderful gifts my training had given me!
I immediately approached my friends, family & colleagues, asking them to attend my classes as my very first students (my guinea pigs). To my complete shock, I was faced with a plethora of reasons why they thought they ‘couldn’t’ do Yoga!? I was bemused. I convinced (begged) them to try just 1 class and I am delighted that many have continued their Yoga journey with me, and now have a regular practice.
Here’s some of the reasons that I was faced with, and why not one of them is a reason to believe Yoga is not for you. Yoga actually, is for everybody.
This post aims to untangle the common misconceptions about Yoga and shine a light on why we should and CAN, all be practicing.
1 – I’m not flexible – This was a shocker to me, the notion that you have to be flexible to practice Yoga is pure nonsense. – Whilst Yoga is firstly a practice for the mind, it has over the centuries been westernised and marketed as an exclusive club for members of extraordinary flexibility. Although bending like a cheese-string may be fun for these people, this is NOT what Yoga is. No-one needs the ability to make themselves into a pretzel to welcome the wonderful benefits of this ancient practice. If you can breathe, you can do Yoga. If you can breathe, you can benefit from Yoga. Find the class that’s right for YOUR physical body…meditation, mindfulness or even Chair Yoga. It’s all yoga!
2 – I don’t have any equipment – If you don’t have a yoga mat, do it on a hard floor space or the grass in your garden or local park or go to the beach! You can pop a towel down if needed. In fact I encourage this for everyone, why be bound by the limitations of your mat anyway? No blocks? Try books, firm cushions or a lunchbox. Don’t have a yoga strap? Grab a belt, tie or some rope. Finding it difficult to sit for meditation, grab a chair! – No yoga clothing? Do it in your Pyjamas, swimsuit, underwear or birthday suit! Perhaps save the birthday suit for your private home practice though 🙂
3 – I think yoga is boring / too slow / I’d rather be in the gym – I hear you, I’ve been to yoga classes advertised as Yoga or Vinyasa Yoga which have been super gentle in the past, when what I wanted was to sweat. Remember to do your research & in doubt speak to the teacher before class. Look for Vinyasa, Power Yoga & Hot Yoga classes if you’re looking for a physical challenge, if you’re bored in these classes I’ll eat my yoga mat! And these styles are fantastic for strength, respiratory system, cardiovascular system and a good old fashioned stretch if you’re a gym bunny too, the perfect partner to your regular workout. If you prefer a softer approach, search for Hatha, gentle flow, Yin or Restorative Yoga classes, all wonderful options for a more gentle experience.
4 – I’ve never done Yoga before – Well we all have to start somewhere. I absolutely empathise with the anxiety linked with thinking about attending a Yoga studio for the very first time. What I can say is, on the whole, Yoga is a safe space. Yogis tend to be very much focused on themselves, their own practice and introspection. No-one attends a Yoga class to gossip, judge or gander and most teachers will pay careful attention to helping you if you announce you are new 🙂
5 – I’m not a Vegetarian/Vegan – Last time I checked, there’s no food menu in a Yoga class so I think you’ll be fine 🙂 It is known that may Yogis follow the Philosophies of Yoga and live a life of ‘Ahimsa’ or ‘Non-Violence’ which may be why Yoga and a plant-based diet can be seen as traditional, however no-one will judge you for nipping off for a steak and bottle of red after class, each to their own.
6 – I have an injury / physical limitation – All the more reason to attend a class my friend! Most classes can be modified to suit all physical experiences. Certainly speak to your teacher before class so they can offer you some pose options and if your injury is extremely painful or serious, you may benefit from temporarily changing up your regular yoga style to allow time for your body to heal. But there’s rarely a reason to do no yoga at all. Chair Yoga is a fantastic option for limited lower body movement/injury, look for a restorative class or even spend time working on your meditation, the options are endless.
7 – I’m not thin enough – This one makes me really glum. Again the westernisation of our beloved practice has lead to many of us believing that to gain access to the club, we must have less than 5% body fat. Most large fitness/yoga apparel companies support this untruth, with many only making clothing up to a UK size 14 and only using models of Victoria’s Secret shape. Please, please, please do not allow this idea be anything but archaic sales tactics & basic deception for you. Instagram is full of very hungry looking yogis coiling themselves into very awkward looking postures, but being thin does not make their experience any richer. Come, let it all hang out and move that beautiful body around with joy! No matter your shape or size, you can Yoga baby.
8 –I have no/poor coordination – Nothing to fear! If your teacher is worth the money you’re paying them, they will turn you into a coordination queen! Just follow the step-by-step and you’ll be flowing through your practice like the goddess of water. And if you are not, if you find you constantly need to be looking at your teacher for guidance then, perhaps it’s time to try another teacher 😉
9 – I don’t have time – This is a personal one, but like all things in life we humans have a prioritisation system and there absolutely is time, even 15 minutes per day can be life changing. Get up a little earlier, vow to reduce your screen time in order to make space for your practice, do some meditation or chair yoga on the train into work. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Yoga is SO beneficial, if you find the time in your schedule, you absolutely won’t regret it.
10 – I don’t feel confident or want others looking at me / judging – To get yourself warmed up to the idea & experience of Yoga, I’d highly recommend trying YouTube, there’s a lifetime of video content on there which can help you. Check out my YouTube Channel for ‘Yoga for Beginners’ if you need some place to start in the safety of your own home. Also, Zoom classes are great, you can do it in your own space and feel a little less exposed whilst on mute also (burp and fart away baby, no-one car hear you!). You also have the option of turning your camera off, although I wouldn’t recommend this, if your teacher cannot see you then they cannot help you. Remember, Yoga students are focusing on themselves and won’t have their eyes on your tiny screen square anyway 🙂 It’s totally safe, totally wonderful and you’ll be totally transformed if you come to your practice regularly.
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