There’s a common myth that you have to be flexible to do yoga and a well-known quote to counteract that “saying you’re too inflexible to do yoga is like saying you’re too dirty to wash.” Yes some of the yoga celebrities have a background in dance, ballet or gymnastics, but the majority of us started with creaking hips and impossible hamstrings.
In the current era of health and fitness, where we have the time and financial peace to do something other than just survive; where mid life crisis’ take the form of triathlons and 100km cycling challenges, there is most definitely a yoga for everyone.
Bringing your creaky, tight bodies to class is the whole purpose of yoga! With time, effort & perseverance, we’ll make you strong, more flexible and self empowered! For me it was this physical challenge that hooked me at the start. At the age of 25 I couldn’t touch my toes. I was terrible at yoga. The fact I wasn’t good at it spurred me on to keep going to class. I keep going to class and doing my own practice for many reasons, one of these is that it is not something I will ever perfect, there is always something new to learn, to work on. My body is always changing as an affect of its external environment and influences, the practice is always changing and Yoga is always there to support these changes.
Yoga is so much more than just the physical asanas (postures) performed in a yoga class. It starts a long journey of self-exploration and development. At its simplest it is a tool for self-awareness, helping the practitioner to pinpoint the confines of their body & define their spatial existence. As the practice progresses, the body wakes up, the soul stirs and the mind starts to question why.
As simple as helping the uncoordinated to improve their coordination, to helping people with depression feel connected and a part of something; yoga can work as a physical therapy, as community engagement and ultimately as a philosophical tool.
Boil it down to beginner’s basics and it’s a serious of postures and movements which tone, strengthen and lengthen muscles. Over the hundreds and hundreds of years Yoga has been around, various yoga luminaries have put different postures together in a variety of sequences to meet the different needs of different practitioners. Krishnamacharya, one of the Great-Granddaddy’s of yoga, the root in fact, of many style’s of yoga practiced today, passed through various phases in his yoga teaching. Calling himself a student rather than a master, because he was always “studying, exploring and experimenting” with the practice, some of the great yoga luminaries were inspired by his teaching, resulting in the dynamic series of Pattabhi Jois, the focused alignment of B.K.S. Iyengar & the classical postures of Indra Devi. All very different yogas, all inspired by the same seeds.
In short, what this means is that there are many, many different types of yoga out there. Something for everybody! Whether you like something more dynamic and challenging (Ashtanga), something more precise (Iyengar), something that feels more like dance (Dru) or something holding postures and working with the breath (Hatha), there will be a yoga out there for you. Don’t give up after the first class, find the style that works for you and also the teacher you click with.
Just as your personal relationships are reliant on chemistry, so too yoga. Personally I think it’s all about the teacher. I’ve practiced styles of yoga I love with a teacher that didn’t gel with me and I’ve practiced styles of yoga I don’t like with a teacher I loved. I’d choose the teacher over the style any time. Don’t be afraid to leave a class and go off looking for another teacher, there are so many of us out there. That can cause some problems when it comes to paying the bills, but is great for the student. There is definitely the perfect teacher out there to suit everybody.
When I first started teaching it upset me when people didn’t come back to my classes, I felt I was at fault, that I wasn’t a good teacher. I just wasn’t their teacher. You can’t be all things to all men and the students that came to me and stayed became very dear to me. You attract your style of student to you.
Don’t be afraid if at some point, the urge to try another style or another teacher. You are not cheating on your teacher. As we walk our soul’s journey, different bearers of light come to guide us through the shadows.
Top tips for yoga beginners:
- We all have to start somewhere, very few of us were born flexible. Don’t be put off by the idea that Yoga is inhabited by bendy pretzels. The vast majority are normal people just finding a peaceful moment in the day.
- Experiment with different styles of yoga to find the one that suits your temperament & your body. Most classes offer a free first class as a trial.
- Find a teacher you click with, it’s all about chemistry! Yoga teacher’s don’t bite, get in contact, have a chat at the end. We love sharing yoga with new people!
- Keep experimenting, if anything it affirms you’re doing the right yoga for you and it keeps your passion alight.
- Practice, practice, practice. There’s no short cut with yoga. Persevere and keep at it.
- Just as every moment is constantly changing, so is your yoga practice. What comes easily one day might be hard another. The waves are always new. We never get bored with yoga, there is always something to work on.
- There’s more to yoga than touching your toes. The prime directive is ahimsa, non-violence, starting with self-love and self-care. Never force, let the breath guide you. If you can’t breathe, back off.
- Smile. Life is beautiful!