All new beginnings are full of excitement, anticipation and a little bit of fear. The unknown is a territory that is both thrilling and frightful. This applies whether you are starting a new job or considering taking that first yoga class. A fear of the unknown is natural and expected, but don't let it hold you back from experiencing all that life has to offer.
Whether you are totally new to yoga or perhaps returning after an extended break, here are a few tips to help you move past the fear and get the most out of your yoga experience.
Let go of your Expectations
Every yoga journey is unique. Your experience will differ from the yogi on the mat next to you, and it should! Let go of any expectations that you may have of yourself or your body. Show up with an open heart and an open mind. You'll find that what you will experience will be profoundly unique and wonderful.
It is so common (and easy) to fall into the trap of comparing yourself with others or believing that you must perform and look just like those people you see in magazines or on television. The truth is that your yoga poses may look a little different. In fact, they may vary day to day as you begin. And that is okay.
Surrender your expectations. Forget all the should and should nots, and let yourself be who you are in the beginning of your yoga journey ... because that is exactly where you should be.
Listen To Your Body
Everyone can perform yoga. No matter your age, level of fitness, weight, shape or size, you can perform yoga. You can benefit from yoga just the same as the yogis who have been doing it their entire lives. But as I've mentioned already, yoga is a personal and unique experience. Your yoga journey may look different than someone else's journey.
The key is to listen to your body. Your body will tell you what it is capable of in your unique journey. You may have to modify and adjust poses, especially in the beginning. You may need to use props such as blocks and straps if you aren't quite as flexible or if you are recovering from an old injury. And that is completely and totally okay.
There are many modifications to all yoga poses. Your yoga instructor can help you find the adjustments you need as you go along. Your body will talk to you, and you should listen. You will improve over time, and your body will tell you that too.
Your Breath is Always Waiting for You
The foundation of yoga is the breathing, and you can always come back to it. If at any point you feel overwhelmed or anxious, slow down and come back to your breath. Take deep breaths that fill your lungs and fuel your body. Allow the calming effect of a deep breath to reset your body and mind.
p.s. this tip isn't just useful in yoga - but in life.
Realize that Yoga is a Journey
Just as with anything new, beginnings can be overwhelming. Yoga is no different. You may feel anxious or nervous about your abilities. Yoga is a journey, and you will improve. You will make progress and see results if you commit to showing up on your mat. But you have to show up.
It might take a few days, or it might take a few months. But one day you will show up and be able to hit that pose you've been struggling with. You may wake up one morning and realize you slept through the entire night because the aches and pains have disappeared. You may notice one day that you smile a lot more because your stress has dissipated.
Yoga has the power to change your life ... if you let it.