Since becoming a yoga instructor, I’ve had countless conversations with people that begin with, “Yoga? No way! That’s SO cool! How wonderful! I’d love to do yoga, but …”
As Pee Wee Herman observed, everyone I know has a big but. So let’s talk about your big but.
“But … I’m not flexible enough.”
Fact: That’s like saying you’re too thirsty to drink water. Each practice is an opportunity to release tension and gently stretch until you reach the limit to your range of motion, or ‘edge’. With consistent practice, the body builds muscle memory and that edge expands. When it comes to yoga, flexibility is a result, not a requirement.
“But … I’ll look silly.”
Fact: Nobody’s looking. I know that sounds harsh, but in a quality, traditional yoga class, each student is focused on his or her own poses. The only other person paying attention to you is your instructor, and that’s only to ensure your safety. Forget those gym membership horror stories; Creepy Stalking Workout Guy does not come to yoga class.
“But … I’m overweight, out of shape, old, etc.”
Fact: “You” are not your thoughts. In yoga, we develop a mindset of nonattachment and learn to look at things without casting judgment. Labels, especially negative ones, limit our ability to truly love and accept ourselves and others. Demonstrating compassion for people and things exactly as they are at the present moment becomes much easier when we are grounded in a regular yoga practice.
“But … I don’t think I can sit still long enough to meditate.”
Fact: Join the club! I’ve often said my thoughts flit around like bats on meth. They don’t just disappear when I sit down on my mat; it can take a good half hour to reach a state of inner calm. My advice is to start slowly and build up an appreciation for the practice. Close your eyes and sit quietly, focused on your breathing, for two minutes, twice a day. Add a minute every other day. Don’t judge yourself if your mind starts to wander. Simply acknowledge it and bring your attention back to your breath. Before long, no more bats.
“But … I don’t have a lot of money.”
Fact: With an instructor’s guidance, you can learn proper breathing and meditation techniques, but you don’t have to spend a dime to practice them at home. A typical yoga class costs about as much as a couple Frappuccinos or a decent Pinot Noir, minus the jitters and/or hangover. And despite today’s brazen commercialization of yoga, don’t think you need to spend a fortune on major league swag. Just wear clothes that are comfortable and non-restricting.
It’s natural to shy away from new things, especially when we’re bombarded with social pressure and misinformation. So now I’m on a mission to expose those big buts. If you’d like to talk about yours, find me on Facebook: Yoga with Teresa Keyes. Namaste, friends.