6 Things I Wish My Yoga Teacher Would Have Told Me
Have you ever taken a Yoga class and found yourself having a hard time keeping up, breathing, or maybe even left feeling a little defeated? I’m here to tell you that that is all ok, but I might have something that can help you.
I’ve been practicing Yoga for almost 20 years, but just recently have been teaching for almost the last two years. In my teaching I have found myself saying things to my students that I wish my teachers would have told me when I was first was new to Yoga.
Yoga is beautifully good for us, every part of us, mind, body and spirit, so it breaks my heart when I hear people tell me the reasons they don’t do Yoga. If you straight up don’t like it then thats fine, but if you are curious about it or even if you have been practicing for awhile, the following tips my help you take your practice to the next level.
Don’t worry about your breath:
Your breath is the most important thing in yoga but when you are first starting out it can be a bit stressful trying to get the breath right, get the postures right and keep up with the flow of class. Let all that go and focus on one thing at a time. Learn the postures, then the breath. I would love for it to be the other way around but let’s face it, in today’s world we are so focused on the physical it can sometimes be challenging to pull someone away from that way of thinking. So… learn the postures first and at the very least make sure you are breathing (don’t hold your breath). Then when you have some understanding as to what the postures are you can begin to put your attention to your ujjayi (yoga breath) along with the poses.
Yoga can be stressful:
It’s been proven that Yoga relieves stress and calms your mind, but when you are in the middle of holding a challenging pose, you might feel like your whole world is collapsing… and that’s ok. Yoga will stress you out, but it is through the breath and using our awareness to move through the postures that we teach our minds and bodies to respond to stressful situations in a calm manner. Yoga teaches us how to handle stress. Thus leaving you feeling less stressed. Pretty amazing stuff huh? Next time you are in a pose that is challenging (or even something simple), breathe. Your Yoga teacher is not the devil and is not going to make you hold it for hours. Learn to breathe into the stress you are experiencing and you will alter how you handle stress throughout your entire life.
It’s not about how pretty you can make it:
I get it. Yoga looks really pretty, but it doesn’t have to be and it’s definitely not the point. Yoga is just happy that you show up. Whether you look like a swan on a crystal lake or you are fumbling around like a fish out of water, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are there and that you are doing your personal best. If you find yourself talking yourself out of attending class because you “can’t do it right”, please politely remind yourself that there is no right or wrong way. Do your best for YOU and who cares what it looks like.
It doesn’t matter how flexible you are:
I often have people tell me that they aren’t flexible enough for Yoga. That’s silly. Yoga, in a way, reminds your body of it’s flexibility. Similar as to what I said above, do your best. If you can’t touch your toes, who cares! Take it to where your body will allow (without pain), and breathe into it at that point. Don’t push yourself to the point of pain. Yoga is not meant to cause injury. Be gentle with yourself. With consistent practice your body will change and it will find it’s flexibility once again.
Take your time:
In some forms of Yoga, you move from posture to posture without much time to hold. If you are in one of those classes, I would still encourage you to take your time. Say for example you can’t swing your foot up into a low lunge (from Down Dog), that you, maybe need to help your foot get there. Do that! Don’t feel rushed to get to the next point. You want to go into the next posture with good form, so take your time, get to where you need to be and build your foundation first.
You wouldn’t build a house on a weak foundation would you? Same with your Yoga practice. I have people say that they want to do the handstands and arm balances but can’t properly do a Downward Facing Dog. Listen up… you’ve got to build a strong foundation first. Learn and perfect the basic postures. It’s in the strength of those postures that you will master the harder stuff. The basics teach you focus, give you strength, and build core stability in order for you to do the tuff stuff.
Now get out there and practice some Yoga! Be kind to yourself, and always approach your mat with compassion. Some days we may feel like we can do it all and some days we don’t. Honor where you are at and don’t compare yourself to others. Practice for the sake of practicing and your Yoga will find you.