I’ve recently started practicing yoga and as a result, I find myself feeling stronger, more confident and generally happier.
I’ve also learned a number of “lessons” that I want to share with anyone just getting into it:
- Practice makes for better practice: It takes time to learn; with practice comes progress. I’m learning that every practice will be different. Some days I’ll feel extra strong; some days I’ll feel off-balance; some days I’ll feel like pushing myself and some days I’ll take it easy. I’ve learned that the people who are most comfortable and confident in class have been doing yoga for years, meaning it takes time to improve your flexibility, strength and balance. You have to put in the time, and the practice, in order to improve.
- There’s no such thing as perfect: *Note: I didn’t say “practice makes perfect” in the first point because there’s no such thing as “perfect” in yoga. Everyone’s body is different, therefore what works for you is very likely different from what works for the person next to you.
- Be patient and gentle with yourself: I’ve always known how important self-talk is, but yoga has reinforced it. We tend to feed ourselves a lot of negative chatter throughout the day, so in yoga I try to free my mind of that. I start class proud of myself for making it a priority to be there. Then when I try something new, I give myself kudos for trying – regardless of whether I succeed. My main goal when I leave is to pat myself on the back just for going – especially when I recognize myself making progress on whatever it is I’m hoping to improve upon that day.
- Embrace mindfulness: Mindfulness is a result of practicing yoga, and it’s a beautiful thing. When you embrace that feeling, it stays with you throughout the entire day. Since practicing yoga, I feel myself more in tune with my body and how I’m feeling physically and emotionally.
- Don’t compare yourself with others: One thing that my instructor says often is that once you’ve refined your practice, you start to tune out others in the room. I’m not at that point yet, so I spend about 2 minutes each class watching others and wondering; how long have they been practicing? How are they able to do that pose? I know that with time and practice, I will be so zoned in that I’ll forget to notice the others in the room. In the meantime, I’m focused on not comparing myself to anyone else – not just at yoga, but in general.
- A good mat is worth it: When I started warm yoga, I thought that everyone in the class was a Lululemon snob because they all had Lulu mats. Then I realized that Lulu makes an incredible mat that’s specifically designed for warm yoga. Since buying it, I’m no longer slipping every minute and it’s an entirely new (and so much better) experience. It’s definitely a smart investment if you’re going to make yoga a priority.