When you first consider taking up the practice of yoga, the process can be a bit intimidating. Upon exploring the most popular sites for yoga info or when you are looking for comfy, quality gear, you are bombarded with images of long, lean and beautiful people in what seems like impossible poses.
This imagery has a way of turning people off of practicing yoga - making them feel that their bodies aren’t built for the practice, that yoga is too challenging or that only certain types of people belong on the mat. It’s this fear of not being good enough, or facing potential body shaming during a class that keeps potential yogis from ever feeling comfortable enough to join.
What aspiring yogis don’t realize is that you can reap tremendous benefits from yoga without necessarily having what people generally consider to be the “perfect” body. In fact, there are plenty of beginner poses and postures that are scalable so literally any body type can get an outstanding workout (both physically and mentally).
Yoga is one of the few forms of exercise where beginner , intermediate, and advanced practitioners can all benefit from being in the same group, and all can achieve improvements in physical, mental, and spiritual health. But this can only happen if newcomers are greeted with the openness and inclusivity that yoga practice is designed to be built upon.
We’ve all got our scars, our flaws and our issues - many of which can be soothed by the things that we can learn on the yoga mat. So how do we, as yogis, prevent newcomers from feeling uncomfortable and make sure our classes aren’t excluding those who may benefit from regular yoga practice?
Remember Your Yoga Beginnings
The first time you transitioned into pigeon pose , were you as smooth and flawless as your instructor? Chances are, even if you had an athletic background, some of the postures you practiced in your first session were challenging. You didn’t step onto the mat as an expert, and there are likely still many things that you learn each and every time you practice. Yoga is not just an excellent workout, it's a journey of self discovery. If you think back to your feelings of trepidation during your first few sessions, you’ll be able to relate to first timers and help them feel more comfortable during their first sessions.
Consider How Yoga has Helped You Grow
While yoga is a great workout, it isn’t just about burning calories and building lean muscle . Regular yoga practice helps build focus, improves digestion, helps you sleep better, and can help you deal with depression. Think of all of the wonderful benefits that you have derived from regular yoga practice and consider why those newcomers may have come to join your class. That first timer may struggle with confidence, may be dealing with a loss or may be recovering from addiction. Their reason for joining yoga may have nothing to do with their physicality, so you shouldn’t pass judgement simply based on their outward appearance.
Realize that Every Body is Beautiful
Yogis come in all shapes and sizes, from elite athletes to those who have limitations caused by injuries or health conditions. Fortunately, yoga can help them all to heal, grow, and improve in their areas of need.
Yoga improves strength of body, mind, and virtue - regardless of the vessel that we have been given to practice it. It doesn’t matter where you are when you begin, yoga practice is designed to help you grow and improve , and if you understand the beauty in that, you can work to ensure that your classes are open and inclusive so that anyone on any level can experience that same growth and improvement.