Maybe you've driven by the studio like I did for a few years...afraid to come in. I look back now and realize it was kind of silly, and all of my fears were really just wild stories I created in my head. I figured there were only serious yogis in there who would turn their noses up at me-a girl who only did yoga with a dvd at home. And by "did yoga" I mean I tried to follow along with the instructor on the tv, but basically spent the whole time craning my neck to look up, and figure out if I was making the right shape with my body. There was no breath-body connection, no community, and no real "practice" in what I was doing. But it was a place to start.
I will be honest with you-yoga is so much more than a physical exercise. You learn that very quickly when you enter the studio.
What I found when I got up the nerve to walk inside was a community of great people who were welcoming and super nice. Many of them were nervous to come in for their first time too. What I came to realize is that no one cared if you knew what you were doing. Seriously-no one gives a crap. Not one. That's not what anyone is there for. You get so involved with your own breath, sweat & and uncovering your own "edges"...that everything else melts away. And in all of that, you find yourself. Do you dip into nirvana on day 1? No. The first few classes you will be trying to "make the shapes" with your body still-but that will pass. You need to listen to the instructor, and make minor adjustments to your body throughout class. Eventually you will come to learn the poses and have a better idea of what is being asked of you in class. But it doesn't happen on day 1-you need to keep showing up. So promise me you will commit to go a couple times a week for a month before I hear you say it's "not for you". This is all about trust. So trust me. And for the love of God, don't tell me you can't go because you're not flexible...that's why you go. Plus, you have already read this far, so just go.
If you have a studio nearby? Ask them what classes might be good to come to for a newbie. Generally you would be fine in any class as long as it doesn't say advanced on the class title... As instructors we are trained to instruct & guide you along the way. If a class ever becomes overwhelming? It's expected for you to drop into a pose that feels good to you, even if is just a comfortable seat, and re-connect with your breath. No one would think anything of it-trust me. Lay on your mat and breathe for an hour if you have to and everyone would be fine with it.
These 5 reasons should be enough to get you to class and keep you coming...
1. Get out of your head
Our heads are swirling with non-stop thoughts and if you have ever tried to goto sleep with a mind on fire, then you know the feeling. Who is that voice anyway? And why won't it get quiet? Why is it always saying crappy things to you, like you're not worthy of that success, you aren't good enough to try something new, you are always letting people down......good God, can someone shut that voice down, please? You might know it's all nonsense, but yet you hear it creeping in anytime you want to step into a new venture, do something special for yourself, or put yourself out there, risking judgement. Whew, thank God for yoga.
We need to occupy the mind, and that voice that doesn't know a darn thing. One way we do that in yoga is with mantra. One of my favorite mantras is Soham, which means, "I am that-that which is eternal". As you inhale, you inwardly say "So" and as you exhale, you inwardly say "ham". It's the reminder that you are more than this body, more than this mind...you are the part of you that is eternal. Your soul, the universe, whatever you identify with when it comes to the spirit. The mind needs something to focus on, or you know it will just go on and on....focusing on the breath or a simple mantra will be enough to trick it into submission. Stillness of the mind will come with the repetition, and the body will remember what to do off the mat. Like when a co-worker says something to upset you, or a driver cuts you off in traffic.....being able to return to your breath and NOT be reactive will be a gift you won't regret having.
Whether you find that the practice of harnessing the breath-body connection the answer to settling the mind, or you just like being guided through a practice where you thinking mind is turned off...it doesn't matter. What does matter is that you recognize how turning from thinking into feeling into your body will seriously change your life.
2. Find your breath again
Everyday we breathe well over 20,000 breaths. I bet you haven't really noticed one of them yet today. Mostly we don't, it's just happening without thought. But taking an hour to focus on nothing more than the breath & the body will leave you invigorated yet calm at the same time. When we take deep, full breaths, we strengthen our immune systems. We remove carbon dioxide from the blood and increase the oxygen levels, which nourish the entire body. There are so many amazing reasons why the breath is worth paying attention to, but actually feeling it will speak more to you than any explanation here. Come to the studio and watch the people leaving all full of life and feeling amazing. Trust me, the benefits are real.
3. You'll sleep better
Sleep is a tricky one. You might be exhausted and yet not be able to sleep soundly. When you're stressing the connective tissues of the body and placing positive stress on the muscles and bones in practice, you are strengthening the body, while settling the mind. Upwards of 40% of adults suffer from insomnia, and we already talked about your racing mind...it's no fun to lie in bed surrounded by thoughts that won't settle down. From a yoga practice, you can expect to have calmed your nervous system, quieted the mind, and soaked the blood with oxygen, de-toxifying the body. By the time you're ready to goto sleep, you can draw from your practice a smooth breath: equal breath in, equal breath out. Maybe you will let the mind rest on the breath, maybe on the mantra...either way, the muscles & mind will be ready for sleep. Think about it like shaking up a snow globe. When you've gone through a practice during your day, all the snow has settled on the bottom. No more swirling flakes-your mind will be quiet & settled. I can't speak for your kids waking you up in the night, or your partner snoring, but from your end? You'll be good.
4. You'll eat better
A fantastic domino effect comes into play once you start practicing yoga. You become more in tune with your body, and suddenly you'll begin to honor it in a way that maybe you had not before. I never thought I was a huge junk food junkie, but I can tell you that my diet got cleaned up significantly when I began becoming more mindful. You will pay attention to everything a little bit more. Do I still eat pizza? Heck yes. But more often than not, I'm increasing the rainbow of veggies on my plate and figuring how to do the same for my kids & family too. Mindfulness is something that will spill over into each aspect of your life, and it's impossible not to feel that impact (others will notice it too).
5. You will re-gain confidence you lost somewhere
If you aren't feeling so great...maybe that you're out of control of your life? That things are just happening to you and you are only responding & reacting? Come to class. Remember when you had all this confidence and were going to change the world? What happened? What voices got in to your head an knocked you down a peg too many? I'm telling you, what this practice will offer you will be way more than just putting your body into a "shape". You will settle into a place within yourself where you realize that YOU are directing your life with your intentions. YOU are in control of how you respond to each aspect of your life. And here's the kicker-you do NOT need to know what's coming. What's in store for you in your life is far greater than anything you could dream up. So, surrender. Turn over the need to know. Trust that whats coming is greater than anything you could imagine. In every class you're letting go of what no longer serves you, and making space for all of the good things heading your way. Believe that.
See you in the studio.