June 24, 2010

Seven Things I Want to Tell My Beginner Yoga Students.

It gets easier fast. It really is about the breath. And it doesn’t matter what your pose looks like.

1) It gets easier. Fast. Soon – sooner than you think – you will know the pose names (even, in some cases, their Sanskrit names), and you won’t have to think so hard to get yourself into each pose. The word “flow” will actually make some sense to you, and your transitions from pose to pose will feel smoother and more natural. You will discover that you can match your breath to your movement. You will begin to reap the benefits of your practice, and this will bring more positivity, strength, and peace to your life.

2) It really is all about the breath. This took me years to figure out, and I still struggle with it every single time I practice. This is why I remind you to find your breath about seven thousand times in one hour. Because I need someone to remind me too. The breath makes all the difference. The breath makes it yoga. It balances you, calms your mind, focuses your attention, and benefits you physically in myriad ways. Do your best to use your breath. If you still don’t “get” how to practice Ujjayi breathing, that’s okay. Keep trying; it will come with time. 

3) You will never regret practicing. You may struggle to make it to your mat, and you may regret not practicing, but I’m willing to bet you will never leave your mat wishing you hadn’t spent that time there.

4) You will eventually stop comparing yourself to others during class. This is hard, I know. I’ve done it too, and I’ll do it again. But, for the most part, there will come a time when you’ll forget to look around the room. One day you will come to a group class and leave and realize you have no idea whether the person next to you got into headstand or spent much of class in child’s pose. I am not making this up.

5a) Down dog really does become a resting posture. I know that may be hard to believe now, but this is something else that will happen sooner than you expect. There will come a time when you’ve had a rotten day and the only thing you’ll want to do is place your palms on the floor and walk your feet back until you feel that space, that freedom, that this pose brings.

5b) I really, honestly, truly don’t think it matters if your heels ever in a million years touch the floor in down dog.  

6) When I say the energy in the room is incredible or that your pose looks beautiful, it’s not a line. And I am not judging your pose based on what the yoga how-to manual says. I am looking at you and seeing your effort, and I think you’re awesome.

7) I want to shake your hand when I see you modify a pose. I know how hard it can be to modify when no one else in the room is doing so, not to mention what your own mind says to you when you take a pose down a notch. Serious kudos to you for knowing your body and taking control of your practice. You are a quite advanced yoga student, whether you know it or not.

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