Every week I’m blessed to have new people in my classes, who have never done yoga before. Also, on my retreats, I always have a few people who have never done yoga before. A privilege to enlighten them and to see if I can spark some enthusiasm.
Some people have an idea of what yoga might be though. “It’s kina like Pilates, right?” Yes… Well, there is Yogalates of course, mixing Yoga and Pilates, but there’s also Doga (yoga with your dog) and there’s probably yoga with cats and yoga for newborns too. Let me just stick to what yoga is for me and list up the five things you need to know about yoga, before stepping into your first class.
Before you set foot inside my yoga class, you should be able to do a headstand, wrap your legs around your head, sing mantras before bed time, meditate daily and read the Bhagavad Gita whenever you have time (that is lunchtime, break time, bedtime, downtime, etc).
Whoops, bad move? 8 cancellations for my upcoming retreats! Lol
A bit of ‘hidden’ advertising here: for August all rooms are booked but we have one spot left for a male yogi to share a room at wonderful In Sabina in Italy.
Ok, back to the blog post > Just kidding! None of the headstand, wrapping legs and other stuff necessary in my classes. It brings me to the first item of the list though: Yoga is Fun.
1. Yoga is Fun
No question, yoga makes me happy. Whether teaching a class or practicing, something just changes in my mind and body every single time. I can tune out, and in; focus and let go; be challenged and accept. Confronting at times to see what my body can or cannot do, but at the end, I always feel more relaxed than when I started.
One of the best parts of teaching for me, is seeing the difference between people walking into class, in their “ Move- I’m late for yoga!!!- state” and seeing them almost falling asleep during savasana (last relaxing part of class).
There are many, really many, different styles of yoga and I encourage people to go shopping in yoga land as much as possible. To check out the styles but also to find the right teacher for you. Some styles are very intense, some are very yin and relaxed. Some teachers will push you to your limits, others will want you to align and be very serious.
Fyi, I sometimes crack jokes during my classes. They just pop out of my head and mouth when I see people taking themselves, and me, far too seriously.
2. Yoga makes you aware of your breathing
What’s up with all this breathing during yoga? We all do it in our sleep so it can’t be all that difficult?! In yoga, it’s more about paying attention to your breathing. You can breathe through your nose, through your mouth, from your diaphragm and merely focusing on your breath, not even changing a single thing, can make you more alert and relaxed. I usually start and end my classes with simply observing the breath.
3. Yoga will change you
If you do yoga, in six months time your body changes. You will become stronger, your back and neck will stop hurting and you will lose weight. Lose weight? Yes, probably not because of the asanas, unless you go to Bikram (hot yoga) every day, something I would advice to try out (very fun, very sweaty business) but definitely not every day. You will lose weight because you will be more mindful of your body and of what you chose to eat. There will be a better connection between body and mind and you will feel what it is good to eat and what is not.
4. Yoga is a 24/7 practice
The gymnastic Pretzeling on the mat is just a tiny part of yoga. I talked about something called the Yamas and Niyamas already in a previous blog and it basically boils down to the fact that you can practice yoga every second of the day.
You are not just practicing when you’re in Warrior 1, 2 or 3, you’re also practicing when you can live a day without judging anything or anyone.
When you start with yoga classes, don’t let this stuff freak you out. It’s perfectly fine to focus on the physical aspects of yoga when you start, just consider all the rest as optional 🙂 . Maybe it will do something for you, maybe it won’t, in yoga, all is good.
5. Yoga is not about being flexible
If I would get a euro for my Indian charity project for every person that used the not being flexible part as an excuse for not doing or even trying yoga, I would probably need a charity bucket instead of the nice bowl I have right now.
I know, there are so many yogis these days showing us their amazing pictures on all possible social media platforms, performing poses that you might get into but would definitely need 911- rescue to get out of, that’s it’s hard to believe that you don’t have to be flexible to do yoga. It is true though, you will become stronger and more flexible by doing it (hence all the nice pictures) but you don’t have to be flexible to start with it. You just need an open attitude, willingness and a mat. And, check number 4 again…., yoga can be so much more than just the gymnastics on the mat.
Have you ever tried yoga? What was or is still holding you back? I’d love to hear your story in the comments.