You are new to yoga or, perhaps, you have been to multiple yoga classes but are interested in trying something new or deepening your practice. There are blocks which can prevent us from beginning something new which are sometimes physical and, other times, are created by our own anxieties of the unknown. Sometimes it can be as simple as finding a class online and committing to arriving to the studio. Other times, an array of questions can arise such as appropriate clothing, level of skill within the practice, physical abilities, among with many more. Let’s discover and look into some ways for you to begin, or continue, your practice of mental wellness through yoga.
Common questions that often arise as a new yoga student include:
- What should I wear?
- What if I have never been to a yoga class before?
- How do I know which type of yoga to choose?
- How will I know what to do?
- What if everyone is staring at me?
- I cannot even touch my toes, how does that work?
These are just a few examples that could be postponing your practice but let’s begin to unwrap some of these yoga mysteries to ease any discomforts or curiosities.
What to Wear:
Appropriate attire for yoga is generally wearing something that you feel comfortable to move in. Tight clothing that is unable to stretch may not be comfortable for you to be in during a yoga practice. More recently, trendy yoga/workout attire is being advertised on social media but these are not your only options to be comfortable for your practice. There are a variety of options in stores that offer active wear, on Amazon, and at local shops advertised for yoga wear. It is important to keep in mind that yoga is essentially about gaining comfort in your body and that can begin with what you choose to put on your body. To sum it up, loose wear that you are able to move in, tighter wear if it stretches with your body, and whatever you choose to wear that allows you to walk into the studio with confidence!
How to Pick A Class:
If you have never been to a yoga class it is helpful to research a few classes that local studios are offering. Some studios will only offer one type of yoga while other studios offer a variety for students to choose from. Many classes will have a class description providing information on the type of movement, skill level, and ultimate goal of the class. Classes such as Yin, Restorative, Gentle, and Kundalini will often be open for all skill levels as the movements and poses are easily modified so all students are able to participate. Classes such as Hatha or Vinyasa may have indicators for skill level as having a foundation in these practices allows you to develop as a student to more advanced poses. By doing a little bit of research you are able to self-advocate by choosing a practice that may best fit your needs as an individual. There might be times when you try a yoga class for the first time and think that the class might not be for you. That is okay! However, yoga can sometimes have us feel uncomfortable as we are sitting with ourselves in practices meant to increase self-awareness. Allowing this to be part of your practice might lead you to trying the class again or being open to trying a different style for a better match to your needs. Yoga studios are often willing to provide further information if you are comfortable to reach out to ask further questions or express other concerns. Otherwise, it is often recommended to arrive 10-15 minutes early so that you are able to set up your mat and tune into the space of your practice.
How to Know What To Do:
Yoga teachers are often able to differentiate between seasoned practitioners and others who may be new to the practice. It is not a matter of doing anything “badly” or “wrong” but part of the work as a yoga teacher is to observe the space so the practice can be adjusted for everyone in the room to have an experience. However, yoga teachers are welcome to you approaching them to quietly let them know you have not practiced before so that they may provide extra guidance throughout the practice. Yoga teachers are not there to judge but to teach and provide guidance for each individuals level of comfort. In some practices, and with your consent, the teacher can physically adjust the students so they can feel the pose appropriately and fully with guidance. A tried and true method is also to open your eyes and look around you if you do not know what to do! It is part of the visual learning process and allows you to check in if what the teacher says was unclear. Also, if there is mantra it is often recommended to listen to the vibrations of the sound or fake it until you make it. Knowing a mantra is not expected and a tool to deepen one’s practice. Many students ask for advice in learning to meditate and silencing the mind. To be honest, each individual will progress into meditation differently. Something that can be helpful is to acknowledge the conscious thoughts that come to mind, welcome them without labeling or judgement, then give them permission to pass through.
Acknowledging the Natural Discomfort:
A rational fear is that everyone will be listening to you (or not, if practicing in silence) and looking at you. The secret is that the teacher will be looking at you and other class members who may not be following (just like you!). Yoga is a group class but students are often focused on their own body and movement that their attention is not on looking for the flaws or perfection from others. If you cannot touch your toes then that can be something that turns into a mindful goal rather than a lack of something to practice yoga. There is a natural discomfort as you begin to move your body in ways that it has not been moved before or not in a group of others. The comfort comes from within during a yoga class which can eventually transfer to situations outside of the yoga studio.
You are Limitless:
With the benefits of mindfulness on the rise there are often many options for you to look into as you begin your journey as a yogi. The practice you choose is an opportunity for you to become more self-aware and is essentially about YOU. It is important to honor physical limitations to prevent injury but other than that you are limitless as you explore a newly found practice and yourself.
Still anxious about starting a practice or need some guidance on your current practice to help nurture your mental health? Our certified therapeutic yoga practitioners are here to help. Practice with a Licensed Psychotherapist & Certified Yoga Instructor in a one-on-one sessions tailored to your specific physical and emotional needs. Contact us for more information: (845) 547-0479.