STEP 1: Start practicing yoga.
Pop your yoga cherry. Maybe you think you are not physically capable or you are concerned that they are about to get sucked into some weird cult. Maybe you are worried that you will become so relaxed during your class that you will accidentally pass gas in public…
Whatever the irrational (sometimes rational) fear is, you can overcome it.
Do some research before starting; keeping in mind what platform and format you would feel most comfortable with. There are so many platforms to choose from (online/on-demand, in a studio, at your gym). There are endless formats (Bikram, Vinyasa, Power, Aerial, Hatha, Hip Hop or Rave Yoga… the list goes on) to choose from. With time you will find your niche. It doesn’t have to be in a studio, it can be at your house, but just go ahead and try it. Start with a beginner’s class of any format. Don’t beat yourself up or give up if your first class doesn’t go as planned. Try something different.
STEP 2: Enjoy your yoga practice.
Showing up to your mat should not feel like a chore. Now that you have found a platform and format of Yoga that fits into your lifestyle, have fun with it! It starts with turning the corners of your mouth towards the ceiling. In my opinion, smiling while practicing should be cued in every format. I guarantee, if you start smiling even in those hard to hold poses, you will immediately feel a difference in your level of enjoyment.
Another way to enjoy your practice is to be creative on your mat. If it brightens your practice, put on some groovy tunes and move to the beat of the music. Or if you need it, find a silent place and move to the beat of your breath. Maybe practice with a friend or maybe don’t? Let go of rules and structure that may be causing your stress. Laugh. Listen to your heart.
And most importantly, go easy on yourself. If a pose feels funky in your body or it brings out negative thoughts in your head, skip it or modify it. Everybody is different. Yoga should feel good.
STEP 3: Face-plant.
Okay, so maybe don’t purposely face-plant into your mat. But do not be afraid to fall out of a pose. Your mat is there to soften the fall. Don’t be afraid. I guarantee that girl handstanding in the Instagram post you saw yesterday has more pictures falling over than actually holding handstand. You may never be able to hold that pose for more than a millisecond but how do you know if you don’t let go of the fear? If you want to be “good” at yoga, let go of your ego and don’t be afraid to laugh at your epic #yogafail. Pick yourself up. Dust it off. Try again.
STEP 4: Take breaks.
In modern living, we tend to push ourselves beyond our natural limits. At work, socially, even with our family, we tend to try to do more than what is expected of us.
Leave that out of your yoga practice. Sure, it’s not always easy to skip that last chaturanga or take childs pose. We may feel we are letting others down. But you will never become a “good” yogi if you are trying to please others with your practice. Let go of your ego and take a break in class when you need it. Our abilities and our limitations may change from day to day, and that’s okay. Listen to your body, and give it what it needs. Let the rest go.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to take a day or two off. Sure, #yogaeverydamnday is a motivating Instagram hashtag. But most yogis have a lot going on outside of yoga. Sometimes the pressure of making it to our mats #everydamnday can actually create unnecessary stress on the body and mind which could result in injury or depression. Take a rest day. Try a new exercise. Enjoy a glass of wine.
STEP 5: Stop comparing.
Stop looking at the mat next to you.
Stop comparing yourself to that girl on Instagram.
Stop comparing yourself to the mannequin at Lulu Lemon.
Stop comparing your expectations with reality.
Stop trying to check off the steps in this list.
It’s not about being GOOD at yoga. It’s about being GOOD to yourself.
You little yogi, you.