This is coming to you from a yoga practitioner, a yoga student and a yoga teacher. I took my first yoga class when I was 14. I’ll be 26 in June. During that time there have been breaks from practicing yoga for years, years of practicing daily, and 695 hours of teaching training. I understand the wonderful yoga high as well as the low of yoga guilt – a few days go by without practicing, then a week, then a month, and the guilt of not practicing along with the ‘should’ and ‘have to’ make it even harder to get to your mat. So, here are 5 things to remember as a yoga practitioner…
(If you’re new or newer to yoga, check out my earlier blog, “5 Things To Know Before Your First Yoga Class.” You’ll see some of these tips overlap.)
(1) KEEP A BEGINNERS MINDSET. Stay curious, continue learning, and be playful. You’re always a beginner, no matter how long you’ve been practicing. Even if you’re a teacher or have been teaching for 10+ years, we are all beginners. There is not finish line in the yoga practice; there are no trophies, rewards or prizes. Yoga is not a show or competition; it is not something to complete but something to practice. It’s a new practice every time you are on the mat because it is a new you every time you step onto your mat. So practice, play, learn, grow, and repeat. Don’t let the amount of years or impressive poses you can hit take away your curiosity, learning and playfulness.
(2) TRY A NEW STYLE OF YOGA PRACTICE. We’re all always beginners but there’s a difference in a beginners mindset and in trying something for the first time – it keeps your brain sharp and body excited. There are SO many different styles of yoga, studios, online classes, and teachers. You can try ashtanga, hatha, yin, restorative, hot, aerial, stand-up paddle board, and even naked yoga. Don’t worry, you don’t have force yourself to go to a naked yoga class; that’s just one example. But, don’t let fear stop you; it’s not bad to feel fear. Feel the fear and do it anyway. You can’t expect fear to go away without any action. There’s no harm in trying. Worst-case scenario, you don’t like it and never go back. Best-case scenario, you love it and open up a whole new world for you and your yoga practice.
(3) USE PROPS. Blocks, eggs, straps, blankets, bolsters and wedges. Try them all and remember your beginners mindset. Props aren’t just for beginner nor are they a sign of weakness. Props are for everyone; remember, we’re all beginners. Even if you can do a pose without a prop, that doesn’t mean you have to or that it’s better without it. Props allow your body more space to open and align. So, there’s no harm in trying. Worst-case scenario, you feel the prop doesn’t help you and you set it aside. Best-case scenario, you love the support and that your body and spine are more open and aligned, and you’ve opened your yoga practice to a new world of props.
(4) TRUST YOUR JOURNEY. A wise woman told me this almost 10 years ago and they’re words I cling to. You can grow tremendously, physically, mentally and emotionally with the help of your yoga practice, if you want and are open to that. You will feel the yoga high and the joy of working towards and finally hitting a pose and of feeling more comfortable in your body. However, there will also be times in your journey where you feel stuck, like nothing is happening from all your efforts and you feel you aren’t making progress. There will be times where you may feel bored and uninspired. Don’t fret. Trust the journey. You will grow, plateau, grow, and plateau. When you practice yoga, the body, mind and soul all open, strengthen, and realign. They need some time to get used to it all and enjoy the fruits of the labor. Remember, you aren’t actually trying to get anywhere in your practice. It’s a practice to help and support you live a present, authentic, connected life.
(5) SOMETIMES YOU NEED YOGA, SOMETIMES YOU DON’T. Sometimes that feeling of “I don’t want to practice yoga” may mean you need something else. Find your balance of when to push yourself to your mat and when to restore and soothe with another self-care practice. Sometimes yoga is exactly what your body, mind and soul need, but sometimes you may need time with your friend, a walk outside, a glass of wine, or a nap. Your yoga practice can help you learn to listen to your body so you can figure out how to best serve it.
Now, I would LOVE to hear from YOU. Were these tips helpful? Can you relate to the yoga high and/or yoga guilt? What’s your favorite thing about yoga? What have you learned from your yoga practice? Connecting with you is my favorite part about all of this. This is a safe space, so please, share your thoughts and heart out!
Sending you love and support on your journey,