The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lao Tzu
Congrats on taking this great step to bring about more balance, strength and flexibility to your body & mind.
It can be daunting to try anything new and it can be intimidating going to a yoga class for the first time.
Here are some great tips to support you on your first steps and remember:
1) Listen to your body and Be Compassionate towards the Self
There’s not much you need to know before going to class other than respect your body’s limits. If you experience sensation, awesome, if you experience pain, back out of the poses.
a) Childs pose is your new best friend. Hang out there anytime you feel you need to connect with the breath or with simply being. This practice is for you. Find your edge; work with it, and practicing accepting where you are every moment. I have a teacher who includes Childs pose as one of the Warrior poses, because it takes, strength and courage to really acknowledge when you are at your age and …Yoga is not about competition, go at your own pace
b) Eating and Drinking. Drink water before and after your class. During the class part of what we are doing is building transformational purifying heat in the body, so generally e tend to avoid drinking during the class. Eat after class. When we eat our energy flows downward for digestion. The practices of yoga are actually trying to build an upward moving energy to bring clarity and peace to the mind.
c) Be comfortable and clean – Wear clothes that are comfortable, loose, that you feel comfortable sticking your legs up in the air in. It is best to bathe and wear clean clothes for Yoga and meditation as this helps keeps the body fresh, pure and full of positivity.
2) Yoga is for everybody. EVERY BODY.
Just show up. Be Open to leaning. Be Expectation – free. Wherever you go, there you are, so start there. In order to be “good” at yoga, all you need is to do it. As in any new venture in life, we start from where we are. Being “good” at yoga has nothing really to do with being able to touch your toes or balance on your pinky finger with one leg touching the sky above your head. “Being Good at Yoga” means that you remain centered and calm when the $%#(@ hits the fan.
Whether you think you can or you can’t you’re right – Henry Ford
3) Yoga is more than just the physical shapes we make with our bodies.
MUCH MORE. It’s a 2500 year old practical and philosophical lifestyle system that encompasses deep body awareness, consciousness awareness, lifestyle choices, personal development, compassion, patience, love, trust and.
The benefits of the physical practice totally rock. You will feel more energized, more balanced, stronger in your core, your legs your arms, your mind. But to really and truly reap the 1000 fold benefits of yoga you have to be prepared to go deep into your resistances and explore the depths of your heart and mind.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Theodore Roosevelt.
4) Stick with it! The Arts of Resistance / Patience / Perseverance
Yoga is simple but not necessarily easy. One of my favourite meditation teachers, Pema Chodron, reminds, invites, and challenges us, like a puppy dog in training, to STAY. After your first few classes in a while, the body may be screaming at you to stop. The challenge is to keep going. Be persistent. Life with its entire myriad of distractions, the mind with all of its to-dos, all of its desires to be more productive, more efficient, more…. is urging you to stop. Slowing down, leaning who you are in the face of resistance, is the name of the game here on the yoga mat. Patience will help you so much to grow and evolve beautifully
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” Mark Twain
5) Explore & Go Deep
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover – Mark Twain
Try different classes – There are bazillion yoga teachers, styles and classes out there. Find inspiration wherever it’s on offer. Find a teacher whose style, personality and philosophy resonate with you, then stick with them for a while and go deep.
Read. We are multi-dimensional multi-intelligence beings. Some of us learn more by doing, hearing, reading, writing, or creating or a combination of all. We can all benefit from getting the information in as many ways as possible. There are endless amazing books on yoga, mindfulness, meditation, presence, love, trust, surrender, open-ness. Here is an ever-expanding list of some of my favorite books to get you inspired…
6) Be Curious. Ask Questions.
Be proactive. Get clarity on what is inspiring, challenging or confusing you. In our yoga classes here in Thailand, we award each student 10,000 points per question they ask. Why? Its fun, and more importantly, your questions bring relevance, depth of understanding, and insight to others, while also building community and curiosity.
I must be a mermaid. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.― Anaïs Nin
7) Yoga is about direct experience – You are a Living Laboratory. Experiment.
You are a living laboratory to explore the practices of Yoga, the lifestyle guides, the thought forms.
Try on what your teachers are sharing with you. See if it fits. If it doesn’t fit, cool. You’ve learned and grown and can let it go.
If you have a lot of resistance to trying it on…go back to number 2 and explore where the resistance is coming from and why.
8) Side effects of Yoga May include….
At first it seems harmless. You are going to a class or two or 3 a week. Next thing you know you have more energy, you are thinking about all the things you are grateful for, you are watching TV less. You are feeding your body more organic vegetarian yummy goodness. You are singing chants. You are relating more openly, more clearly and consciously, or at least you want it. Relationships are affected. You start to notice what you are feeding your body and your mind…
9) Attitude is everything – The Shift
The lessons we need to learn in life, while incredibly profound, are often quite blatantly simple. I always remind myself that this moment is exactly as it is, and it is our relationship to the moment that determines our experience of it as happy, sad, boring, exciting… We are the directors of this play. Two people caught in the rain can have very different experiences. One can be miserable and cold, cross their arms across the chess and mutter about the blahness of it all, and the other can be jumping in puddles with glee. Thoughts simple exists, it is truly our relationship to them that gives them power.
10) Enjoy, have fun, and Celebrate all wins
Every time you succeed in making it to the mat. Celebrate. You did shoulder stand for the first time. Celebrate! You meditated for 5 minutes? Celebrate! You missed a day of practice? Cool. Moving on. You made it the next day? Celebrate! Set yourself up for success.
Even in just thinking about doing yoga, or cultivating a more mindful lifestyle, you are winning and so is everyone around you. Winning!!!!
Welcome to the amazing journey of Self-Discovery that is Yoga! Enjoy your time on the mat. Find the willingness to let go of perfection, the ego, and the thinking mind and try to drop into the spacious awareness within.
May your journey with Yoga
be filled with peace, grace, ease, flow & support.