At Health Warrior, we’re here to support your active and healthy lifestyle. And sometimes, that also means supporting our own warriors to take on new challenges and get a little outside of their comfort zones. Our Consumer Engagement Specialist tested the yoga waters and decided to give this challenging practice a real try.
Yoga for Beginners: Everyone Starts Somewhere
Have you ever tried a new workout and three minutes in thought, “nope, how do I get out?” If you’re anything like me, that workout was yoga. It wasn’t relaxing in the slightest and I found myself anxiously trying to just get through it. Yes, I work for a company called Health Warrior, but I’ve always preferred my workouts to be high-intensity with music blasting or TV to watch. Weight lifting? Love it. Running? Sure. Barre. Fine. Yoga? Eh…
But here’s the thing. I learned to love it, and I really do mean love. I think my aversion to yoga can be boiled down to six fears that I didn’t know I needed to conquer in order to really be able to enjoy this ancient practice that always seemed so out of reach to me. Maybe these fears were excuses in disguise. As soon as I confronted them, I was served twofold the amount of joy and self-esteem. Yoga for beginners doesn’t have to be painful. Here are the 6 reasons I never wanted to try yoga, and how I pushed them aside.
My body just isn’t right
This was a preconceived notion that I’ve had since I could remember. There’s a certain body type that comes to mind when I think of a “yoga body” – slim, tall, white women whose bellies don’t roll over when they bend and can somehow workout in earrings. The first person I saw challenging that for me was Jessamyn Stanley (look her up). She showed me that my muscular thighs and non-flat belly could do all the same poses and be beautiful and strong and bendy.
Like most of us, I work daily to quiet negative thoughts about my body and my appearance. Yes, sometimes during a yoga class I catch my reflection in the mirror and think “jeeze, that doesn’t look great.” But then, fifteen minutes later, I see the same body holding a soaring pose and think “man, look at me go!” My yoga classes have become a practice in disproving the negative thoughts and celebrating the positive. Also, you *can* do yoga with a big butt.
I’m too competitive
This one is tough for me still. Firstly, there will always be someone “better” than you in a yoga class – someone stronger, more flexible, with better balance. The thing that helps me is using my competitive drive to stay in the zone. Of course, the zone in yoga is different than the zone in running or playing a team sport. The zone here is staying present, listening, and forgiving yourself for not being perfect.
At my studio, we frequently start a class in child’s pose. The instructors almost always say something along the lines of “this pose will always be here for you,” meaning, if you need a break – mental or physical – you always have permission to drop to the floor, lay your arms down, and breathe into your mat. Sometimes I spend minutes in child’s pose while people around me are flying through flows and strong poses. Other times, I don’t even consider dropping to the floor. But it’s always there.
My mind will never be quiet enough
In my first yoga class (the one I hated), my mind was racing. “Why does this hurt so much? How does she do that? Oops wrong leg. I can’t breathe like this. How much time is left? How does she do that? My water’s too far away. What if I just don’t do this part? How does she do that?” Like any other skill, a quiet mind takes practice.
I found that certain instructors really help me get my thoughts under control. Try out different classes with different people at different studios or gyms and find a few that you connect with. My favorite classes have been ones where I am in the moment, not worrying about the past or present, just being on the mat and letting thoughts enter and leave my head like clouds passing. (Can you tell I do yoga?)
I’m not flexible enough
It takes practice. There are these things called yoga blocks and you won’t want to use them. You’ll think they make you look weak or new but really, they’re just tools. A good instructor will encourage you with options to help build your flexibility and strength. Yin yoga is a type of flow where you hold poses for a longer amount of time to deeply get into your muscles. It might not be the best yoga for beginners but it’s certainly something to consider. I hate it almost every time because my mind starts fighting me to stop, but it has immensely helped with my overall flexibility.
I don’t know what to wear
People wear all different kinds of things to yoga depending on what kind they’re doing and where they’re doing it. My favorite studio is a hot yoga studio where clothing is minimal since you sweat (a whole lot). The most important thing is to be comfortable, both physically and mentally. I don’t wear shorts because my legs get too slippery. I do wear a sports bra and leggings and shut off my negative self talk when I second guess taking my sweatshirt off before class.
I’ll look like a fool
You will. People fall. People fail. Sometimes people fart. But a good instructor and studio will encourage you to get uncomfortable and grow and not take yourself too seriously. Yoga for beginners is a practice in humility and courage.
Yoga for beginners can be daunting. I hope calling out some of my own fears will inspire the yoga-shy to give this ancient practice a chance. Above all, make it your own. Find a place where you feel comfortable, supported, and encouraged and go for it.
Hear from Health Warrior CEO Shane Emmett about the 8 reasons we started Health Warrior.