I've been practicing yoga, on and off, for almost 10 years. I mainly just dabbled with it for a while, but became more consistent with practicing in the last few years. Yoga is the only thing that can effectively silence the ever-going chatter in my mind. I must admit, however, I didn't achieve this instantly. It took persistence and dedication to consistently show up on my mat until I started experiencing the benefits of the practice. Through my years practicing, I've learned that yoga is much more than cool poses, controlled breathing, and various flows. Yoga, in many ways, is a lesson on life. It teaches you when to hold and when to let go. It teaches control: of breath, of body, of mind. It teaches you to be flexible, yet strong. It teaches you there is always more to discover and further depths to be reached. But most importantly, for me however, it teaches balance - literally and figuratively. As I search for balance while moving through poses, I somehow find that balance and centeredness in my daily life.
I don't claim to be a yoga expert by any means; my practice isn't perfect and I still have a lot to learn, but I really love yoga and am a big believer in the benefits to be gained from this practice, and truly believe everyone should give it a try. I feel like I've had so many conversations with friends who say they want to start yoga, but don't think they'd be good at it, or they tried yoga once and got bored or discouraged, so I put together a list of my top five tips to keep you on the mat. Whether you're a new yogi, retired yogi, or regular yogi who needs some motivation, I hope you find this helpful :)
1. Be Patient:
If you're not naturally flexible, it will take time for your body to stretch far enough to get into these poses, but that's okay! Almost every class I've ever taken offers modifications for all levels, and in time your flexibility will increase. Just understand that unless you are already flexible, or are the real life Stretch Armstrong, this will take time to develop - consistency will be key!
2. Variety is Good
It's important to try a variety of yoga styles, classes, and instructors. There are so many different styles of yoga, it's important you find the one that's a fit for you. Very often people will give up on yoga after an experience with their first class. I've heard people say, "I tried yoga, but it was so boring," which leads me to believe they just need a class that moves at a little bit of a faster pace. Or alternatively, "I tried yoga, but the class moved too fast and I didn't know any of the poses," which leads me to believe they need to start in a class that moves a little slower. Read the class descriptions online, or call the studio before you go, the receptionist should know what to recommend after you tell her what you're looking for!
3. Be Okay with Being a Beginner
Everyone has to start somewhere and one of the least threatening places to begin something is in the ball of love that is a yoga studio!
4. Show Up
The most obvious, yet most difficult. After you find a class you like, glue that hour into your schedule as your date with yourself and your mat, and try your hardest not to let anything come between it. The more you show up, the more all of the above will get easier for you, and the more you will begin to feel the benefits of your practice.
5. What to Wear, What to Wear
The focus of your practice should certainly not be about what you're wearing, but I do firmly believe it's important to wear something you're comfortable in so you're not distracted by your clothing riding up or slipping down while trying to perfect your crow pose or moving through a flow! That is why I love the apparel by Zobha and Marika. The leggings I'm wearing are by Marika and might as well be a second skin. They fit so perfectly and the material is great quality so you don't have to worry about your leggings becoming see-through while in a deep stretch. Also, can we talk about this Zobha bra top? How adorable?! I love the mesh overlay and the straps' detailing on the back. This top looks great on its own, peeking out under a tee or tank, and transitions extremely well for outfits outside of yoga class.
One of my favorite things a yoga instructor said once at the end of class was, "The divine light in me, bows to the divine light in you," which is in essence the meaning behind the word "namaste". So I will leave you with that :)
Namaste, sweet souls.