On Beginnings

With the lovely Chris. One of my beginners who has grown immensely as a yogi.

I teach many beginners courses. Here are a few things beyond the obvious and wishy washy that I’d wish someone told me early on.

  • It doesn’t always feel good. You shouldn’t feel bodily pain but there will be struggle, challenge, and frustration. But in confronting one’s limitations and one’s response to being limited you can’t help but grow in any number of ways.
  • When you begin you’ll probably have some arbitrary physical goals relating to something that’s tight or something that wants to lift or something that wants to go upside down. You’ll dream of photos that you’ll post or the fame and popularity that will come when you perform said feats at cocktail parties. That’s ok. You’ll forget about it all soon enough.
  • You are allowed to and should question everything.  Skepticism leads to concrete belief and experience. Blind acceptance and faith fades quickly in the face of challenge.
  • You are empowered to modify your practice in a group environment (while of course being respectful to advertised class levels).
  • You are empowered to take options up or down at anytime. You will never know what you are capable of if you do not try and you’ll burn out quickly if you don’t have the occasional gentler class.
  • Becoming advanced doesn’t necessarily mean becoming flexible and strong, it means in gross generalisations and simplifications becoming body aware and proficient enough in postural practice to give your body what it needs to feel healthy within the demands of your physical life and to give your mind and spirit what it needs to feel sane and happy.
  • You are empowered to tell a teacher no. Adjustments, deepening, or in defence of just doing what you think is best.
  • Open Level, Level 2, or even scarier level 3 classes aren’t scary at all. You’ll know when you are ready. Or you can ask your teachers about it. Don’t hold them up as only for the yoga elite.
  • You are required to have some discipline and consistency even in small doses otherwise you will not feel lasting long term effects. Perhaps you just want an hour a week of stretching and moving. Fine. Good. But if you want more you have to work for it.
  • Trust the process and the repetition and your ability to grow and learn. Yoga works if you give it time and elbow grease.
  • You and only you are expected to take care of yourself. don’t cede your power over your health and your safety to the teacher. Don’t push past your hard, rational limits or restrictions.
  • Don’t think about it too much. Experiment and experience instead.
  • When you get ‘good’ or experienced in yoga it becomes far less exotic and poses and your ability to do them impresses you less and less. It becomes an absolutely ordinary and essential component of your day and life. Meaning you’ll probably stop offering to do handstands at cocktail parties.
  • Teachers inspire and guide but you do the work, and yes it’s work.

Check out more tips for beginners

Take a beginners course with me.