Written by Evan Howard, Owner of Forward Thinking Fitness
Yoga practice dates back thousands of years and has been a mainstay in the fitness industry for just as long—and for good reason! Yoga increases strength, flexibility, balance, and mental focus that carries far beyond the yoga mat. Beyond those benefits, it has been proven to ease anxiety and depression while contributing to an increased sense of well-being. If you have never attended a yoga class simply because you are intimidated by the yogis on social media that are styled in awe-inspiring poses, I’m here to debunk all of the misconceptions surrounding the practice.
Everyone else in class is experienced
Unless you’re signed up for an advanced yoga class, there is no need to worry about being a beginner! Most students are at a beginner or intermediate level, so you’ll be in familiar company. However, if you somehow end up in an advanced-level session, don’t worry about it! They all started somewhere too.
Yoga is not about perfection, and there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to achieve the poses. Yoga is about allowing your body to move wherever it can on any given day. Skipping trickier poses is encouraged if you can’t quite settle into the pose quite yet. Give your mind and your body time to adapt to the new workout, and be open to learning more and more every session. Even advanced practitioners still have more to learn!
Everyone else is more flexible than I am
You do not have to fold yourself into a pretzel in order to participate in a yoga class. Touching your toes isn’t even a requirement to be a student. If you are consistent with attending your yoga classes, you will notice an improvement in your flexibility over time.Yoga instructors are able to modify any pose for all body types and all abilities. There are tools such as blocks and straps that will greatly help you move through poses.
While increased flexibility is a product of consistent yoga practice, it is not the main focus. Yoga is about unifying your mind, body, and breath and should always be your primary goal.
Everyone else is in better shape than I am
Yoga was never intended to be an intense workout. Its purpose is to calm and clear the mind while opening the body. There are, of course, “power” or hot yoga classes that will have you working up a sweat. If you want to push your limits, try one of those power classes! Most likely, though, you’d be better off trying a hatha, vinyasa, or yin yoga class first. These classes are a bit slower and more foundational than power yoga class.
In the end, the individuals in your classes should only be focused on themselves, and should have no opinion about whether or not you’re in “good” shape.
Class will be boring
If you are not used to finding time in your day for relaxation and stillness in your body and mind, yoga may take some getting used to. A yoga session typically begins with a few moments of meditation and ends with a final relaxation pose that allows you to fully cultivate all of the new, positive energy you brought to yourself during your practice. Chances are, if your’e worried about “doing nothing,” you may need this quiet time the most!
Embrace the calmness and allow your mind to be cleared of any tension that came before your practice and any stresses that may be awaiting you. You will feel much more centered and ready to tackle the rest of your week with peace of mind.
I don’t want people too close to me
Every individual who steps into a yoga class has a different reason for being there. Every individual has the right to express their concerns and set their own boundaries. Every yoga instructor is prepared to respect those boundaries and adjust their session to each person. If hands-on help is out of your comfort zone for reasons ranging from, “I just don’t like anyone touching me” to, “I was harassed/abused in the past,” your yoga teacher is equipped with the knowledge to help you in a different, respectful way.
Yoga is an introspective practice. Physical and emotional needs must be met, as yoga is often referred to as a cheap form of therapy because of the mindfulness it brings to practitioners. Individuals from all walks of like who may have endured traumatic life events are welcome to yoga and will reap the many benefits that come with it.
If you’re still not feeling comfortable enough to participate in an actual yoga class with other people, you can find plenty of yoga videos on the Internet! Complete a few sessions on your own, and see how you’re feeling about yourself after a few weeks. This little bit of experience may be just the boost you need to hop into a yoga class! Pay no mind to the stereotypes that yoga has acquired over the years. Always maintain your “beginner’s mindset” and be patient and open-minded. Yoga will fill in any gaps in your physical and mental health routines!
If you want to learn more about yoga, or learn more about what Forward Thinking Fitness can offer you! Please email Evan Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org.