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June 26, 2014

Things No One Tells Us about Trying Yoga for the First Time. ~ P.J. Wells

yoga author's pic

So you’re interested in giving yoga a try.

You’ve seen all the pictures of bendy girls on the internet, you’ve heard that Jennifer Anniston and Hugh Jackman swear by it, you know it’s great for staying in shape, improving your athletic performance and rehabilitating from injuries, so what’s not to love?

If you’re thinking of taking the big brave plunge (it takes guts!) here are our top five things that no one tells you that might be handy to keep in the front of your mind:

1. It’s really, really, really hard.

Like crazy ridiculous hard. Thought it was just about some gentle bending and stretching? Think again. Those poses that those incredible yogis make look so easy on Instagram can make literally every muscle in your body scream out in protest (mainly from years of neglect) and the teacher at the front of the room is usually some kind of rubber freak who is most likely not from earth.

The good news though is that there is a class to suit every level so don’t be too stubborn to start with the basics and hit a beginner’s class (or seven). Remember, challenge is a good thing—it’s what helps us progress and grow.

2. You’re probably going to suck at it.

We’re talking suck at a level that you maybe didn’t feel was humanly possible. My partner maybe put it best, saying he felt like a ‘buffalo in mud’ during his first 10 or so classes. Your arms will shake, you may not even remotely resemble a form anywhere like what the teacher is demonstrating and everyone else in the room might appear to be yoga champions. But we all sucked to begin with.

Embrace the sucking—enjoy it! Laugh it off when you fall out of poses and love yourself for simply trying. It’s only yoga!

3. It’s freakin’ weird.

There’s a whole spectrum of weird when it comes to yoga. There’s chanting, talking about energy, mention of chakras and bandhas (whatever they are) and sometimes the teacher will say something so ridiculous that it takes every ounce of willpower to not jump off your mat and run.

It’s weird and it’s wonderful and it’s new and it’s scary but just try and listen. It’s not a religion, you don’t need to believe in everything and there’s absolutely no right or wrong. Just try and find the teacher that makes the most sense to you.

4. Sometimes it’s insanely boring.

Your teacher might ask you to just lay still for five whole minutes. Maybe 10. I’ve been in classes where a restorative pose has lasted 20 minutes and have been told not to move and muscle except to breath this entire time.

I’m a busy person (as I’m sure you are too) so laying still for that long can absolutely drive me crazy. What’s the point if you’re not moving, strengthening, toning or tightening? Stillness is perhaps the hardest part of yoga. You might feel bored, frustrated, angry or anxious. This means that it’s probably really, really good for you. Being ok with being still is much harder than standing on your head, but it’s the thing that will change your life the most (I promise!).

5. No matter how long you stick at it, you’re always going to feel like a beginner.

Yoga isn’t like pilates or pump class. It’s a whole philosophy of health and spiritual progression aimed at helping you to live at a higher consciousness level whilst maintaining your healthiest physical body.

It’s been around for thousands of years, has been practiced by millions of people and extends far beyond what you do in your yoga class. There is always more to learn, discover, debate and maybe even love. You’ll never get bored of it and you’ll never feel like you’ve mastered it. Learning new things is one of the most beautiful experiences in life—enjoy!

Whatever you do, don’t give up straight away. There around thousands of yoga studios, class styles and more yoga teachers than you can poke a stick at (both in person and online)—there is literally a style, a class and a teacher to suit everyone.

A good rule of thumb with yoga is to give each class four tries. If you don’t love it by the fourth visit, move on. It’s a little bit like a new pair of jeans, you just need to wear them in a little first.

 

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Author’s Own

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reclaimingyourfuture Jul 1, 2014 2:33am

I haven't tried yoga before but want to and these are a lot of the thoughts/fears I have about going and wanted to ask someone but felt embarrassed 😀 Thanks for telling us what it's really like so I feel reassured enough to try it 🙂 Toni x

Richard Jun 30, 2014 2:11am

Hi

I know this was intended to be light hearted article but I thought I would comment in case any beginners read it. My experience has been nothing like this. The only point that corresponds slightly with my experince is number 3. If you let yoga do its thing you might find out that it's not just yoga that's freakin weird, it's the whole experince of being alive.

I started with a Beginners Iyengar class 4 years ago. I was at that "sarting to get the middle age spread" 40 year old man stage and had been having back, neck and shoulder problems for 10 years.

In the course of 8 weeks my diet and sleeping improved. I started getting up early to practice. I had a lovely wholesome falling in love with asana practice feeling. I also found that I was no longer in the documentary of my life and was just living it. I didn't need a sound track so I spent less time listening to music.

After one class I realised that I had been causing my own suffering from holding tension in my back to try to "protect" it. After another class I has a trancendent spiritual experience in a supermarket car park.

My advice would be don't spend too long looking for the perfect class and teacher. If something about the classes pushes your button – the room, the teacher, the prescence or absence of music – then find another class that has the features you want. Or better still …just accept it.

Leigh Jun 28, 2014 6:22am

I was afraid this would be another EJ fluff piece with a catchy title. As a long-time practitioner and newer teacher, I loved it. Helped remind me what it's like for my beginners.

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PJ Wells

PJ Wells is a wine loving, yoga teacher who cracks far too many not funny jokes throughout her classes who is currently residing in sunny Brisbane Australia. She spent the better half of her twenties travelling the world and studying everything from fashion to nutrition and has somehow ended up with a yoga studio, two cats (Ziggy and Billie) and a beautiful partner who puts up with her rambling about yogic philosophy and practicing arm balances in the living room on a daily basis. You can find her musings on Facebook and pics of things she loves on Instagram.