I never thought yoga was for me. I always thought it was something hip, thin, extremely flexible people did to relieve the stresses of modern life. When I first found yoga, I had no idea what to expect or if I’d even be able to do some of these awkward poses (much less pronounce their names properly). I was a yoga newbie and I had so much to learn and discover.
I went to my first class, of course feeling odd and out of place. Everyone was in their own space, getting into their Zen mood. Some were sitting with legs crossed and eyes closed, some on their backs breathing deeply. A few were stretching and chatting with people next to them. I just sat there, not knowing what to do. So, I adjusted my mat, checked my phone about 20 times to make sure it was off, attempted to stretch and move, and talked myself out of needing to go to the bathroom (again) about 5 times.
The class started and all I kept thinking about was how I was going to make it through 75 minutes of something I had no clue how to do? I never liked group exercise classes as I always felt like I was being watched and critiqued. I listened intently to the teacher as she moved through different sequences, all while taking sideways glances at the others around me to see if what they were doing was what I was doing; saying a silent prayer that there were no mirrors in the space we were in. As I was taking glances at others while going through the movements, I noticed that everyone was doing something different. At first I panicked, thinking “What is everyone doing? Why are they not doing exactly what the teacher says? Does the guy next to me not know we are suppose to have our legs wider?”.
Then, the teacher said the magic phrase that answered all of my questions. “Remember class, yoga is practice. Honour your body where it is at right now.” Aha! That explains why when I looked around, everyone was doing something slightly different. Some people were in perfect sync with the teacher, others were using props and modifying poses, and a few were resting in a pose of their choice waiting on the next sequence. This was when I realized that I had the power to make this practice my own. I didn’t have to keep up with the human pretzel beside me and I was ok with the fact that I needed some modifications to a few poses. I was honouring where I was.
Being a beginner at anything can be daunting. The awareness of the unknown would give anyone a touch of anxiety. My little bit of advice to the brand spanking new yogi is to don’t give up. If you first class was a bit overwhelming or maybe you just weren’t on the same vibe as the teacher, keep trying. Find a style of yoga that fits you. Try different classes at different studios and see which one speaks to you. Don’t be afraid to use props, they are there for a reason. When I started my yoga journey I found it helpful to talk to the teacher either before or after class. This allowed me to voice any concerns and also get tips on ways I could safely practice. I quickly found out which types of classes I enjoyed most and which ones I wasn’t too fond of. If you aren’t comfortable with a class or teacher, you will not enjoy your practice.
Once I found my niche, I began to become more comfortable with my practice and started to let it grow in its own unique way. Not only did I go to class, but I looked for other ways I could add to my practice. I went to workshops and community events. I started building my yoga book library, finding online resources and videos that I could go back to and learn from. I became involved in online forums and social media to not only learn more, but to share my experiences.
The icing on the cake was when I decided to go through a teacher training and get my 200hr certification. Even though by now I had been practicing for a few years, I was once again a newbie. I didn’t know where this new adventure was about to take me. I was excited, anxious and full of doubt. I constantly questioned my wanting to do this. I was even going to withdraw from the program. Thank goodness I didn’t. Today, not only am I 200hr certified, I am also prenatal and Curvy Yoga certified. All new experiences. All make me who I am today.
We are all new at something. If we were meant to know everything then life would be pretty boring. Everyone must start as a newbie in order to become something. Don’t be afraid to try something new. The worse that could happen is you don’t like it and you move on. Being new at something allows for growth and understanding. Wave your beginner flag high and proud. You’re on your way to becoming a yogi.