So its January and we are all going to be talking about all the new and exciting things we are going to start. But then the negative thoughts creep in. We have so many expectations on our self.
I hear so many people say they would like to yoga but ...…..
*I'm not flexible enough -
Ok this is a very common one. I think people see photos of yoga postures or they see how flexible their yogi friends are. There are two reasons for their flexibility. One they have been practicing yoga regular for a while now, they were not that flexible to begin with, they practiced to become flexible. The second reason is they are naturally hyper-flexible. A lot of Yoga magazine's and Instagram pages use models who are hyper flexible, which is actually a condition that is caused by weakness in the joints. This is not something you want!! Most yoga rooms or studios are filled with people who are quite inflexible but work on becoming stronger and more flexible. It takes time! Also you will find that most yoga classes are not that "advanced" it would be quite uncommon for a 1 hours yoga class to have very advanced "pretzel" poses.
* I'm too old -
There is no age limit to yoga, the oldest yoga teacher is 101 and is still teaching!!
Not every class is suited to every person. There are stronger styles that require alot of physical fitness, but there are also gentler variations that will be more suitable for beginners or people who have certain conditions or physical or mental restrictions. Do a little reserch into the different styles of yoga, I guarantee you will find something eg. Chair yoga, kids yoga, pregnancy yoga, yoga for autism, yoga therapy, the list goes on! Contact a teacher you are drawn to and ask if they have a class that is suitable for you. I offer
, that will give you a style of yoga based on your ability and needs.
* I'm not thin enough -
Like the point above there is no certain way you have to be to practice yoga. I feel that Instagram and Facebook are flooded with photos and videos of slim, blond, flexible, young women. If you are a young, slim, flexible, blond woman that's great, be yourself. But if you are not its hard to find someone to relate to, or to look to for inspiration. But they are there, thousands of beautiful men and woman who may not fit the status quo, teaching yoga, practicing yoga and inspiring.
*Yoga is easy -
Honestly I love to see the look on peoples faces in their first class. Its usually total shock and surprise. Yoga is hard work!! Those of us who practice yoga might make it look easy, floating in and out of standing balancing poses and chaturanga (push up style posture) and headstands, but let me tell you every time I get on the mat, I work! Obviously hot yoga classes have the added intensity of a heated room, but "regular" yoga classes like ashtanga or vinyasa or stronger Hatha classes
can get hot too. We work on building an internal heat that can make us sweat and feel tired and make us want to quit, but all totally worth it for the feeling afterwards.
Even slower classes like Yin or gentle Hatha can be very challenging physically, mentally and emotionally. Yoga is not just about a physical workout it is a wholistic exercise of the body, mind and spirit.
* Yoga is weird -
Most Yoga classes are based around the physical practice of Asana (posture)
which can be quite similar to a general exercise class eg aerobics class.
In yoga we do other practices like breathing techniques, again most classes are quite "normal" you will be taught how to breath using your diaphragm (which keeps the nervous system calm and increases your lung capacity) You may also be taught how to regulate your energy. This simply means warming (waking up) the body with practices such as breath of fire or cooling (relaxing) the body with the practice of alternate nostril breathing.
Sitting in stillness and meditating is another common practice in yoga. Meditation is becoming so popular now that you can often see people sitting on a bus or in a park looking peaceful and relaxed with closed eyes. Ok so far nothing weird here!! I think that most of the 1 hour yoga classes you seek out will be similar to what I just described.
Now I will admit there are some practices that are a little out of the "normal" day to day status quo.
There are other practices such as lions breath (see photo) that may look a little strange!! But
have huge benifits such as reliving tensions and tightness while improving circulation.
Chanting, this is a practice used by many cultures and religions. Chanting is another form of meditation. There are styles of chanting that are devotional by nature, but there are other forms of chanting that are just used to focus the mind on something such as the word Om. Chanting is also deeply relaxing as while we chant we are activating the vagus nerve in the neck, calming everything. Most one hour classes will usually chant 1 or 3 Om's (which is optional) or no chanting at all.
*We can speak a lot about energy and moon phases or crystals and elephant gods.
So off the cuff , this type of language may seem "strange" or "ultra spiritual" however all of these things have reasons or methods behind them. Yoga teachers dont talk about the phases of the moon to sound all mystical and interesting, there is genuine research behind how the phases of the moon effect humans and the planet. We may talk about elephant god as a representation or metaphor. One thing a teacher of mine said to me that will always stay with me is " Dont accept what I have to say, but dont reject it. Hold onto it"
Yoga is not everyone's cup of tea, but if it is something you have been wanting to try, stop making excuses and holding back, If its something you truly want to do make time for it. There are a million classes around Dublin/Ireland and online, give it a go. You will never know how good you can feel unless you try.
If you would like to try a class a great place to start is in my Back to Basics Workshop on Sunday the 26th at 11am. We will cover all the basics including the history and philosophy of thhe practice.