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.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s Own