A brief summary of “All the reasons why”
#1 – I’m just not flexible or calm enough to do yoga.” My response- “How do you become more flexible?”
Yoga teachers hear this at least once a week, to our astonishment. That’s like saying you can’t take Italian class because you don’t speak Italian. If you take the class, you’ll probably learn some Italian. If you take yoga, you’ll probably gain some flexibility and calmness.
#2 “I have to lose some weight before I start yoga.”
Why? People of all shapes and sizes are going to be in class. Don’t even get me started on the head games that go with losing weight and how yoga puts fear, shame and judgement at bay to be more resilient so that you CAN lose weight. And if weight loss happens to be one of your goals, yoga might help. Though far from a calorie-burning cardiovascular workout, restorative yoga—the gentlest of yoga practices—has actually been shown to lead to weight loss. It turns out that when our bodies relax, as they do through restorative yoga, they are able to metabolize food more effectively. Namaste! Read more here: http://www.canadianliving.com/…/can-yoga-really-help-you-lo…
#3 “Everyone in class is going to be watching me. And probably laughing.”
Truth is, most people don’t really look beyond what’s happening on their own mat. You instructor will be encouraging you to “look within” for starters – and you will.
In yoga, often a gazing point is taught with each pose—students are encouraged, for instance, to look at their outstretched hand, at the tips of their noses, or at a point on the floor or on the wall in front of them while they practice—not at you! As you’ll soon discover if you do start yoga, when your eyes dart about the room, it’s a whole lot harder to stay balanced! In short, our fellow classmates won’t be paying that much attention to what you’re doing because they’ll be busy paying attention to what they’re doing and trying not to fall!
#4 “I’m just too tired after work. Or before work. Or at lunch. Whenever yoga is, I’m beat.”
It’s called yoga PRACTICE not yoga PERFECT – typically we start and end in a restful pose so you can ease into it at any speed you’re functioning at that day. You’ll be glad to know that yoga just might make you feel more energetic and help you sleep better at night! Trust the research: http://www.sjweh.fi/show_abstract.php?abstract_id=2916 and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ela…/yoga-sleep_b_1719825.html
#5 “I can’t do yoga because I have injury, pain, or illness.”
I remember a Herman cartoon that went something like this – “Doctor, it hurts when I do “this” – Doctor’s response “Don’t do that!” Yoga is not painful. If it is, you are doing something your body isn’t ready or anatomically prepared to do – maybe ever. That’s yoga. Understanding what you are made of, and loving yourself regardless of what you can and can’t do.
Let your common sense and your doctor be your guides as to whether or not you are healthy enough to exercise. If you feel up to it, and your doctor has given you the okay to get moving, a gentle/basic yoga class may be a great way to ease yourself back into physical activity.
An experienced teacher will know how to approach common, minor injuries in the space of a group class. Most of us expect that in any class there will be students with wrist, shoulder, back, and knee limitations. There are SO many alternatives and a good yoga instructor will offer them. LET YOUR INSTRUCTOR KNOW IF THERE’S SOMETHING UP.
There are many conditions which, rather than precluding a yoga practice, seem to be aided by it. Yoga has been shown to help with PMS, back and neck pain, depression, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and cancer recovery, among others.
Keep in mind that there may also be yoga teachers in your area who would be able to work with you privately, creating a class suited to your specific needs.
#6 Yogis are weird
Yup. Kinda. In fact, the thing is the more you do yoga and participate in a regular routine, the more you will build a community you WANT to be a part of. It’s not uncommon in classes that I teach that we all miss participants when they don’t show up. Or I get a message to say “Please let Jim, or Tracey know I’ll be back next week.” Everyone cares a lot about each other.I have watched more friendships form than I can count, and in every instance, the group becomes tighter, just by virtue of focusing on positive messages while moving their bodies. So… if you call that being weird, well I’m OK with that. Not enough love in the world, people!
#7 “Yoga is too spiritual for me, I like my own faith”
Yoga does not ask you to give up your faith. Ever. It teaches us to treat people and ourselves in a respectful, loving way; that teachers appear to us in the most unlikely form.
The truth is, yoga IS spiritual – it speaks to kindness, love, compassion, folklore, family, authenticity and the goodness that serves all of us from our hearts, minds and bodies. There are ancient writings and philosophies surrounding yoga that remind me of mythology. And like anything, some things will resonate with you, and other things you can choose to filter.
You are not going to have to learn how to play the sitar, spend your life savings on crystals, essential oils, pilgrimages to India, and change your name to whatever is Sanskrit for Sun and Moon.
You will not have to do any of these things. Unless, of course, you choose to.
#8 “I have to wear tight, expensive yoga clothes and buy an expensive mat”.
Chances are you don’t have to buy anything. You have what you need in your own closet. There is focus on alignment—the positioning of your body in a healthy way—it’s helpful for your teacher, and for you, to be able to see certain landmarks on your body clearly (which way your knees are pointing, for instance), hence the tightness of dedicated yoga gear—but you can wear whatever is comfortable and stretchy (as opposed to things like denim, belts, and buttons, which are not so good for yoga). If you want to try out some yoga-specific clothing but are worried about the expense, then, my fellow bargain shoppers, know that almost every clothing store sells yoga clothes, including Walmart and Joe Fresh, and that plenty of great yoga duds have migrated to secondhand stores and resale apps. The trick is to avoid zippers and seams that are uncomfortable.
As for a mat, most gyms offer free mats for classes as do many places or they rent them for a couple bucks.
If you end up liking yoga, you might eventually want to upgrade your mat; some of the pricier models boast a better grip or lifetime warranties. A mat can be a personal thing!
#9 “My teacher is sure to single me out and berate me for my singular incompetence. Everyone will be better than me.”
It would be odd to find a yoga teacher who would do this. In general yoga teachers are invested in being nice people. Your yoga teacher is not going to yell at you or embarrass you for not knowing how to do something. We expect you not to know things; if you knew everything you wouldn’t need us! Introduce yourself to your teacher before class, let them know you’re new, and I bet she’ll set your mind at ease. We’re here to help.
Yoga is not a competitive sport. I have taught classes with all levels – your instructor will teach to all levels with modifications. If someone has been at it longer and can do things you can’t, that means you can take a peek at them to see what’s going on if you need to. And if we only did the things we were already good at, wouldn’t life be boring? Every time we learn how to do something new that is outside our comfort zones, we improve our cognitive functioning!
#10 Reason why yoga…(LAST ONE!) “Okay. I’m in. I’ll do it. When I have the time…”
Really? We’ve come this far and you’re putting the “time” thing on the table? Yoga will make you a better runner, cyclist, pumper and overall human. (true, that!) It’s worth giving up another workout to put this in your schedule. These “top reasons” posts are truly what I’ve heard over the years. And I can honestly say I’ve never heard anyone say “I really regret doing yoga” Ever. Yoga may even GIVE you more time by keeping you healthy (mind and body) longer. (There’s a lot of research confirming this!)
If you’re still not convinced, experience it first! Join me one on one, at a class or retreats. On me!