Yoga is for everyone

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Some of the most common comments I hear from people who haven’t tried Yoga before include:

  • I am not flexible enough
  • I can’t get into those positions
  • It  doesn’t make me feel good

I am not sure where these misconceptions come from, but this post is to help clarify some of these misconceptions. As someone who once tried Yoga using a DVD, and declaring I hated it, to now being a certified instructor, I can openly say I too have uttered some of these statements. If I didn’t utter them, I have surely shared the sentiments as well.

I am not flexible enough

Some of the poses that many of my students eventually get into is nothing short of amazing. Many of them didn’t start out being flexible though. For many of my students, their  previous lifestyle is one where they are sitting for most of the day. In the evenings, more sitting would ensue as they transition from work to couch potato. This is the reality for more people in the corporate world than we like to admit. Students who make an effort to come out to a class, enjoy that they can get a good workout, and still feel really relaxed afterward. Part of my suggestions to my students is to honor their body and where it is in that moment. I encourage them to embrace where they are in their journey, and not attempt to enforce their mat neighbor’s journey on themselves.

Yoga helps to increase ones range of motion. Students should feel encouraged to make use of the tools and props available to them help them get into different poses. A yoga session isn’t intended to be a competition between students, but it is for each individual student to learn more about themselves, to embrace who they are, and to celebrate taking time for themselves. Many times students think that they are “cheating” by using the props. However in not honoring their practice risk injury by over stretching, or compromising proper body mechanics to get into a pose. Embrace where you are, and honor your body.

 

I can’t get into those positions

What image usually pops up on your search for Yoga? Is it an inversion? Is the yogi in the form of a human pretzel? There is no shortage of images representing yoga to be a practice about inversions and binds. While these poses are definitely a part of yoga, they aren’t the only poses. Many of my students admitted to being intimidated about participating in a yoga class because of their google search results. When I encourage them to join me, I sweeten the invitation by stating they can stay in svasana (corpse pose) the entire class if that is what they need. As I hold my beginner classes, I draw connection to how some of the poses are ones students probably practiced since childhood.

Another misconception that goes along with having to become a human pretzel is that yoga is meant for people of a particular body type. A consistent Yoga practice will definitely helps us to get into the best shape possible (coupled with clean eating). However, being a female who wears size 4 or less is most definitely not a requirement. Yogis come in all ages, shapes, sizes, and gender. Do not place limitations on yourself that have no value to your journey. As mentioned before, I encourage students to embrace themselves as they progress through their journey.

It doesn’t feel good

As I mentioned I tried yoga once using a DVD, and I hated it! To be fair, I was doing a lot of things “wrong”. The first thing was I tried yoga while 6+ months pregnant. I was using a DVD, so there was no way of getting feedback on form from the instructor. I had no idea about engaging my breathing, and the list goes on. Some students who have joined my classes state that they tried yoga a long time ago, and this was their first time trying it one last time (#nopressure). When I inquire more  about their experience, it turned out that they may have participated in a class that wasn’t well suited for them and their personalities. Another reason people may have had an unpleasant experience is the environment/ambience of the class.

At the start of each of my classes, I share exactly the type of class students can expect. I share poses early on that students are welcomed to return to at any point in the class. For each of the poses that is shared, I also provide modification options including the use of props. I mention the muscles that students should feel being activated, and warning signs they should look out for. Beyond verbal instructions, I also adjust the room temperature, aroma of the room, and the music used with my class to provide a complete experience. Having a teacher who you connect with also goes a long way!

Just try it!

There is no substitute for just getting out there and trying it. While yoga is absolutely something you can practice solo, I strongly recommend getting started with a trained instructor! If you would like to get started with yoga, reach out to me, and I can help put together a series of sessions with you!

 

Namaste!
~Onyeka