6.2
September 7, 2010

10 Things Every Beginning Yoga Student Should Know.

10 Things Every Beginning Yoga Student Should Know.

1. It doesn’t matter how flexible or inflexible you are. Really. Being flexible won’t make you happier. There’s no prize.  Stop suffering and learn to love the body you have!

2. Don’t get hung up on how you look in a pose. Everyone else in class is focusing on their own pose. They don’t care how you look (unless you’re wearing a thong). Let this be your first lesson in ego management.

3. It’s OK if you don’t know what the Sanskrit words mean. The only people in the room who do are teachers or big yoga dorks.

4. It’s not religious—unless you want it to be. Your practice should be unique to you. You’re allowed to make it as spiritual, religious, fitness oriented (or not) as you want. (If someone tells you otherwise, please have them call me.)

5. Yoga is an art form, a science, a lifestyle and a philosophy. But more than anything, it’s a way to get to know yourself better. And that’s something that benefits us all.

6. Everyone gets the left and right sides mixed up sometimes. Don’t be embarrassed when this happens. If your teacher corrects you,  just smile. There’s a good chance she’ll say “left” when she means “right” later in the class.

7. It’s cool to fall down. The first time I fell on my face while attempting an arm balance, I was mortified. Now, when I get a big red mark on my forehead from diving head-first into my mat, I consider it a badge of honor. It’s how you learn. Laugh at yourself and move on!

8. No one cares if you can do a Handstand in the middle of the room, or touch your foot to the back of your head, or some other advanced pose. Just start where you are, and your practice will build over time. You’ve got the rest of your life to master the poses — for now, just breathe.

9. Your teacher wants you to ask for help. No one understands the temptation to hide in the back row and pretend to be invisible more than I do. But believe me when I say yoga teachers LOVE to answer your questions. Your teacher really wants to help you with your pose, answer your question about philosophy or explain what that Sanskrit word means. So if you don’t understand what’s going on, ask!

10. Keep coming back. When you’re new to anything there will be moments of frustration and discomfort. Despite what you might see on TV commercials, hatha yoga is usually not the same as going to a spa to get pampered. It’s hard work. It can be exhausting — physically, mentally and emotionally. At times you will want to throw up your hands and quit (or at least curse out your teacher for making you hold that pose you hate). Don’t. This is where the healing happens. Breathe into it, and come back tomorrow. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Image: Janet Orzechowski/Unsplash

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

E Kumar Nov 10, 2013 8:33am

Why are so many western writers and yoga teachers so down on Sanskrit? Sanskrit is an extremely therapuetic practice that can relieve issues like depression and anxiety. If you don’t understand it’s benefits maybe you could kearn them and pass them on instead of ignoring or putting it down. Sanskrit is an integral part of yoga so I wish the author didn’t dismiss it. It is actually rather offensive to Indian people to speak about Sanskrit which is part of the sacred science like this. Otherwise a lovely article.

klsoni Sep 30, 2013 12:49am

very nice post useful to all not only beginners

DiAna Sep 27, 2013 1:50pm

Great article! Thank you. I have recently unsubscribed to Elephant Journal. I've feel the pieces they publish have shifted into a more sensationalized, less authentic body of information.
Your piece is a breath of fresh air. If they continue to use more writers like you I may subscribe again.

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

Erica Rodefer Winters

Erica Rodefer Winters is a writer, prenatal and postnatal yoga teacher, and mama living in Charleston, SC. As the former online editor for Yoga Journal magazine, she lived and breathed yoga at work and at home. She practiced with amazing teachers every day, went to yoga conferences, and had a supportive environment to live her yoga. Now, she’s trying to navigate yoga in the real world. Her blog, Spoiled Yogi, is about her journey to find contentment and live in the present, no matter what. Her loves include her family, her sweet 3-year-old Annabelle, yoga, writing, and SO many other things!