Walking into your first yoga class can be quite intimidating, especially if Instagram is your only view of yoga. So here are four things you need to know (or remind yourself) about the practice of yoga…just in case your teacher doesn’t mention it.
- It doesn’t matter what your pose looks like. It doesn’t matter what your yoga pose looks like (as long as you're safe!). What does matter, is who you are when you get to that pose. So tune in to the inner chatter. Is your voice kind and compassionate or is it harsh and critical? Because if you are judging yourself, thinking your pose should somehow look differently, or that somehow you’re not as “good” as the next person, THAT’S your yoga, not the pose. If you will honor where you are today, you will go further faster than if you judge yourself. I promise!
- Keep your eyes on your own mat! It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing in class. It doesn’t matter what they are capable or incapable of. Their practice is their practice so leave them to it and you stay with yours. And, if you’re thinking someone is silently judging you because you look like a fish out of water (which they might be!), what anyone else thinks about you is none of your business. That’s their issue, not yours. In every pose, there is a focal point, a place to set your gaze. We call this drishti. Get so focused on that, that you can’t see anything outside of it. And if your eyes or thoughts divert, quickly recognize it and come back to where you are.
- Honor your body today. Basically, I’m repeating #1 in different language because it’s SO important. Everyone’s body is put together differently and we are all on this journey at different places, therefore everyone’s pose will look differently. In the event you fail to keep #2 and you catch a glimpse of Gumby in the corner, don't let her practice make you feel down about your own. If you can’t honor your body for where it is today, why would it take you any further? Be grateful for the progress you’ve made in your own practice, no matter how small. Remember that great things start small and those small things will grow if you recognize them and appreciate them as gifts and indicators of greater things to come.
- It’s just yoga. It’s really not that big of a deal. If you fall, laugh. If you rock it, celebrate. If you fart, blame it on the dude beside you and if you feel like you don’t belong, shut that voice up and keep coming back anyway. This practice can change your life but you have to keep showing up for that to happen. And always remember, it’s just yoga.
As a teacher, my goal is for my students to leave class feeling empowered, not defeated. Even if you don’t particularly dig my style of yoga, I want you to feel good enough about what you just did to try another style or teacher. If you had a bad first experience with yoga, take these points to heart and try again with a new perspective.
About the Author
Bethany Smith has been practicing yoga for 10 years and teaching for 8. She knew fairly quickly into her practice that she wanted to share this gift with the world. She started the practice for the physical benefits and quickly realized that what this practice was doing for her on the outside, was doing the same on the inside. She has received two 200-hr trainings, as well as 5Elements Flow training certified. She is currently enrolled in her 500-hr training. If you are interested in getting into the practice of yoga, Bethany will be sending out her Beginner’s Yoga Series #BeginwithBethany at the end of December. It will only go to those subscribed to her newsletter, so head on over to her website to sign up! www.bethanysmithyoga.com