The title may be a little aggressive but your body asked me to tell you that. Why? Every day, more and more research comes out about the benefits of yoga. You may have heard yoga is good for depression, lowering stress and anxiety, reducing inflammation, etc., etc., but maybe despite the endless benefits, you’re still hesitant to try yoga.
The first time I tried yoga, I was 22 years old. I took a class with my sister at the community college. During savasana (a resting pose at the end of each class where you just lie on your back), I thought, “This is stupid. Why am I taking an hour long exercise class to just sit here for the last five minutes? What a waste of time.” Clearly, I was missing the point. And so are you if you’ve said any of these things about yoga.
“I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.”
This is like saying you are not in shape enough to go to the gym. Sure, a lot of people who do yoga are flexible, but yoga is more about your mental and emotional flexibility than physical flexibility. No one ever achieved enlightenment by touching their toes or putting their leg behind their head. That’s not where the answers are. The answers lie within and yoga helps us go within. That said, if going within isn’t what you’re ready for right now, of course yoga can help you become more physically flexible. Keep in mind that if flexibility was really the key, Cirque du Soleil performers would be the wisest gurus on the planet.
“It’s too hard.”
I used to play bass guitar and people would ask me, “Oh, is that easy?” (I don’t know why, presumably it seemed easier because it had four strings?) I would always answer, “Not if you want to do it well.” Nothing is easy if you want to do it well. Yoga is the same, but that doesn’t mean it has to be hard. There is yoga for everybody and there is yoga for every BODY. Seriously. Be smart about how and where you start, however. When I began playing the bass, I wasn’t slapping like Les Claypool at my first lesson. So don’t pick a hot, 90-minute, power flow yoga class for your first time. Start with a beginner class or a gentle class.
The temptation when going to your first class is to make sure you’re “doing it right” so you can look like everyone else. More than anything though, you should listen to your body. Not listening to our bodies is how we get hurt. Remember, the instructor is a guide. If a pose doesn’t seem right, modify it. Pay attention to how it feels. It’s your body and it’s your practice.
“I could never wear those little yoga pants.” Or “I’m too intimidated.”
Sure, there are plenty of yoga studios where the teachers look like models and everyone is wearing coordinating $200 yoga outfits, but there are even more where that is not the case. It’s easy to find them. Look at their websites. Find a teacher that says “yoga is for everybody” or something similar. That’s the teacher to try. And wear whatever you damn well please, as long as it’s comfortable. (Incidentally, that’s good rule for life, too.)