Yoga can be incredibly intimidating when you’re new. As a beginner, I wore dark layered clothing because I felt self-conscious wishing I was thinner. Wanting to go unnoticed, I feared that everyone would see my stiff body. Within weeks, I bought my own gear. Using it correctly seemed easy, until my underwear flew out of my hot yoga towel. I quickly learned the importance of using fabric softener with these clingy items. So I initially separated myself from the room thinking I wasn’t as good as everyone else. What I soon realized is that it’s not easy to catch on right away. Yoga is more of a practice focused on personal intentions, rather than a class to conquer. No one was looking at me; they were all looking within themselves.
After practicing yoga regularly for a few months and now on-and-off as my schedule allows, I can proudly say that I graduated from newbie status. I appreciate yoga on a different level. It’s more than stretches and exercise, it’s calming, cleansing and inspiring. I’ve improved, but I’m no professional. I still can look awkward and inflexible. But most importantly, I’ve enhanced my overall well-being, both physically and mentally. Here are five notions that show how I’ve embraced yoga, reaped benefits and am no longer a beginner.
Five Signs You’ve Graduated from Being a Yoga Newbie
Enjoy the Stillness
I used to show up within minutes of the class starting. I squeezed myself in a back row. Like in an old gymnastic lesson, I spent a minute stretching my legs and waiting there until the class began. Now, I enjoy arriving early or staying late to lay completely still on my back. Before, I was bored by the stillness. Now, I accept the calm moments to connect with myself on a physical and mental level. Even a few minutes of this stillness helps clear my mind for the day.
Stop Watching the Clock
I used to arrive at class and immediately wish it was over. Ninety minutes felt like an eternity. I would watch the clock hoping to receive the toxin release, flexibility and weight loss benefits. Now, I challenge myself to not think about it. I listen to the teacher, especially when he/she explains the detoxifying benefits of a single pose. I imagine my body healing with every move … both my cancer as well as my cellulite.
Wear Short Shorts
I’ve seldom been a fan of my hips/thighs, so I never saw this coming. I thought I had to be a size zero to pull off short shorts. When practicing hot yoga, however, it’s much easier to concentrate when clothes aren’t wet and stuck together. Others must share this view. I’ve seen a room of full-bodied curvy men and women wearing the equivalent of a bikini in hot yoga. No one cares. Now, I don’t either.
Grab a Front Row Spot
My body is still inflexible and my poses are far from pretty, but it’s not about being the best. In order for me to set an intention to improve, I need to see myself working on poses. Watching closely in a mirror is powerful, especially if I’m kind to myself. I now celebrate the small wins/improvements. I may laugh, but never snarl at my less-than-perfect body performing these postures.
Don’t Watch Others
Now that I’ve attended enough classes, I know the poses. When an instructor cues, I can often position myself close to the correct form. I don’t watch others. Their beautiful grace and form used to intimidate me, now I don’t compare. I used to shy away from trying new moves for fear of looking foolish. No one is watching me, just like I’m not watching anyone. Now I give myself credit for the attempt. I’ve improved because of it.
Do you remember your first attempts at yoga? What helped you enjoy your practice more?