Lately I’ve been creeping out of my seasonal depression and getting back into the things I love doing. For a few days now, (it’s been beautifully sunny outside), I’ve been taking my yoga mat onto the deck and practicing in the warm sun, inhaling fresh air while birds are chirping and wind is gently blowing in the trees. It’s given me back the feeling of pure happiness; enthusiasm for life that I tend to miss out on in the winter.
I hear a lot of reasons why people think they don’t like yoga- “Yoga is just a fad.” “I don’t have the body to practice yoga.” “I’m not flexible enough.” “I am just not a yoga person.” While I completely get that sometimes you and an activity may simply not jive, I do believe in trying completely before giving up at something. Also, if I can in any way be a part of your attaining some level of fulfillment or joy from practicing, that would make me pretty happy. I truly would hate for anybody to think that they couldn’t practice yoga for whatever reason. So, here are some tips and suggestions that may help if you think you are just not a “yoga person”!
- Practice and patience! Nobody will feel natural right away in lizard pose. Contrary cardio and strength which only need to be practiced a few times a week, flexibility is something that should be practiced every day for at least 10-15 minutes to see results. If you only practice once a week for example, your body has had time to go back to that stiff state between practices. The more frequent you practice, the more open your joints stay. Make time maybe before you shower; find some way to incorporate a few minutes of yoga into your morning or night routine! Consistency= flexibility.
- Wrong breathing is a possible reason you may feel uncomfortable in any given position. Take some time before you practice to work on your breathing. If you need a guide, look up a quick tutorial video! Generally, if my goal is to do for a deep stretch, I breathe in right before going into a position, and breath out to deepen my stretch into that pose. (Breathe with your throat for increased control and mindfulness of your body. Think of the ocean wave sound.)
- For beginning yogis, sometimes it’s just a matter of not knowing where to start. Sometimes, watching videos as home isn’t enough instruction. That was me for a long time. I didn’t have the money for a big multi-hundred dollar membership but I also wasn’t learning enough on my own. So I purchased a temporary 30 day membership (hint: a lot of places have 30 day deals if you are new to that studio) and committed to going 1-2 times every day for that month. I learned so much from a new environment, different styles, different instructors and perspectives; I wouldn’t feel comfortable practicing on my own without that decision to invest in a temporary membership.
- You may be practicing the wrong style for you! When I first started practicing yoga, I thought it was just a one-style-workout. Little did I know that there is yoga for beginners (Hatha), people who like to get their sweat on/ who want to be more flexible (Bikram [hot]), people who can’t sit still (Vinyasa [flow]), yoga for meditators / people who simply enjoy the feeling of stretching and open joints (Yin- my favorite) and much more. Another benefit of getting a temporary membership is that you can explore all of these different types of yoga and find which one suits you and your body.
- It seems that a lot of people want to be good at yoga right away so they push themselves too far then (of course) they say “that did NOT feel good!” When you are first starting, try the beginner positions. Don’t push your body more than it is comfortable going. For example, doing hero pose as a beginner, just stay in the sitting position with your legs bent, don’t lay all the way down- that will be so strenuous for your untrained body! Remember, patience. When your body has been warmed up enough by practicing often, you will naturally feel ready and able to move into deeper stretches.
- It is ok if it is simply not your day for a certain pose or even the practice itself. Try doing an alternate position such as child’s pose to reconnect your body to your mind. Accept that your body can only do so much given what is going on mentally in your life at any given time. Give it a break, let it breathe and relax. Try again later or tomorrow.
I hope that this post either helps you in some way with your practice or allows you to think of yoga in a bit of a better light.
Happy practicing! Sidney