Yoga is Intimidating 

I graduated from teacher training at the beginning of July. Since then, I have had the pleasure of sharing these teachings with some new students. Through these classes, the biggest thing I have learned is that many people find yoga intimidating. One friend told me that she would rather go to a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) class than try a new yoga studio. Which is amazing to me because I find them to be super scary. Even when the instructor is my friend.

But I am so thankful to have learned this – it has informed how I work with clients, how I introduce new postures or sequences. And by the same time, it saddens me. It’s peer pressure. It’s focusing on the wrong thing. Yoga is more than getting your foot behind your head. Actually, yoga isn’t at all about getting your foot behind your head. Yoga is the stilling of the changing states of the mind. The asanas (postures) are outwardly challenging, yes. But they are only that – a more outward expression of yoga. True yoga happens inside. Yoga is a dedicated practice, one that takes time, and eventually leads to tranquility and stability – and yes, maybe to your foot being behind your head. But it’s your foot and your head. Not the person next to you. And I think that’s really the thing that intimidates. And that understanding brings us to the second main idea of yoga – non-attachment. We can not put a limit on how long it should take us to achieve these goals – whether they be getting your nose to your toes, meditating 15 minutes per day or attaining self-realization. We can never think – she is doing it so why can’t I?

With my clients, I show them the pose in it’s full expression. And then we work through their version of the pose. Modifying, using props, and celebrating every improvement. And dancing when the moment strikes. I have learned that my arms are a little short for my body. So certain postures are simply never going to happen for me without props. And that’s OK. I have also learned that I can do some postures if I just take a breath and go for it. And I promise the same is true for you.

So if you’re still with me, I have a request. If there is a posture that you find particularly intimidating, tell me about it in the comments. If I have already written about it, I’ll share the link. If I haven’t – or if my understanding of the pose has changed, I’ll write a new post for you. And if you live in NYC and I can help you with an in-person chat, or even some thoughts about a specific studio or class, I am happy to do that as well.

Namaste.

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16 thoughts on “Yoga is Intimidating 

  1. Postures that relies on open, flexy hips in order to approach full expression are intimidating for me. I know, that’s pretty much everything. But in the 26+2 sequence, I especially struggle with Eagle, Tree, Toe Stand, Locust, Head-to-Knee with Stretching and Spine Twist. A decade of regular yoga, and my hips still tense up and refuse to open up.

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    1. How are you with pigeon pose? I have a hard time keeping my front shin parallel with the mat. If I keep my heel in, I’m fine but then I don’t think I get the stretch in my hip. I can do pigeon on my back but that’s no fun. However, I think that is more a function of my knees than my hips.

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  2. Hello! 🙂 *waves*
    Perfect timing for this post.

    I’m ready to get back into my lunch time gym routine as a start, I just reserved two classes. One a Vinyasa Yoga and the other Zumba. Even though I’ve been practicing Yoga for years now; it’s still intimidating. Not a particular pose – but the whole class. Constantly plagued with questions like, am I the biggest girl in the class, am I dressed right; how is everyone’s leg moving up so effortlessly – why am I the only one sweating. Once I get passed all these, I really really truly enjoy Yoga. The calm of it – the moving my limbs to places they’ve not been before…*sigh*

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    1. Hello! More waves! I took one Zumba class – scared out of my mind. Had no idea what was going on – everyone else was regulars. But maybe this is what we should keep in mind. SOMEONE in the class is new. Sometimes it’s you or me, most times it’s someone else. I don’t judge the newbies – I am excited to have them in class. Why can’t I imagine the same good feelings coming my way when I am the new person? And dressing right? My boobs came out of my top in an advanced yoga class next week – the woman next to me told me she didn’t see a thing! Success!

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  3. First of all, i love, love your blog name, and wish I’d thought of it! But I’m happy I’ve found it. This post is so helpful to me because I find yoga so intimidating, even though I’ve been attempting it for a while now. I struggle to commit and establish a consistent routine (and I’m afraid to go to classes and practice in front of people) because I get continually frustrated with my lack of flexibility and poor balance and keep wondering, is it even for me? But I will keep trying, because despite the challenges, there is no form of exercise I enjoy more. Recently I got into restorative yoga, and with all of my various ailments, it seems like that’s where I should have started all along. I would love to know more about yoga for chronic pain, because I can never have too many weapons in my arsenal. Thanks for writing this!

    – Erin

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    1. I think restorative is a great way to start. And then you can move on to a basics class. And if you stick with that, wonderful! The trick is to find something that works for you. Not to worry about what the class is called or what anyone thinks about it. With basics, you are getting all the same benefits. And really, so long as you show up on your mat – you have succeeded! Namaste. I wish you nothing but the best on your journey and hope you will check in with me from time to time. And don’t worry about what other people think – they are too consumed with themselves. My boobs popped out of my top in an advanced class the other day and NO ONE noticed.

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