It’s always nice to have a friend come along with me to attend yoga classes, but all the more so when that friend is your husband!
While reluctant at first, he’s now as excited as a puppy every time we go for a session. He’s just starting out and I can see passion in his curiosity, always asking me tons of questions. It was a genuine treat to be able to help a first-time student find his footing, and I realized how important it was to support beginners.
If you’re just starting out, here are 5 tips to keep in mind!
Find the right difficulty.
It’s very important to know your bearings and find a level of stimulation that helps you grow but isn’t too taxing. Studios will often have staff that could recommend an appropriate class for you – explain your fitness and injury histories so that limitations and expectations are set, because even beginner levels also have variations across different teachers.
But if there isn’t a beginner’s class available, a gentle class with a slower pace will allow you to find your own rhythm while learning foundation poses, alignment, and breathing basics. Going forward, gentle classes will remain a staple for primary practice, but some will find that they want to take it to the next level. This is where more physically rigorous classes come into play, but it’s always important to pace yourself. Make sure that you are not biting off more than you can chew.
Tune into your own body.
Listening to your body is crucial – One of the most popular nuggets of wisdom for all difficulty levels, it is a bit cryptic and vague to put into practical terms. As you grow in practice, however, you’ll start to develop a mind-body connection which will help you tune in to what your body is actually saying. It’s a very important part of growth and protecting yourself — If you feel any kind of pain, pull back and return to “home base” postures, which include the child’s pose, mountain, or easy seated.
It’s natural to notice changes or alerts in your body as you progress, but it’s always important to feel safe.
Don’t worry, coming out of a pose if you feel that way is definitely progress because it shows that you’re synchronized with your body’s limits and potential. One good measure to know these limits is your breath. If you’re starting to buckle and your breath becomes strained, shallow, or rugged, that could be a sign that you’ve reached a limit. Don’t worry about it – take a deserved break and recenter with a few deep breaths before easing back in.
Mat location matters.
We’ve all been guilty of sneaking to the back row of a lecture hall in college – I know I was. The same applies to yoga, and many beginners often set their mats in the back row. There’s no need to be shy! Yoga classes are a safe space and an environment for learning, so it’s very beneficial to be stationed where you could see and hear the teacher. They are there to help you grow and blossom, and you’d be surprised at how focused you’ll find yourself.
You are your own competition.
Being in a room full of other students surrounded by mirrors, it’s very easy to get roped into a mindset of comparing yourself to others, whether competitively or for self-validation. It’s just like gym class decades ago in high school.
Yoga is not a competition. There are no grades, there’s no winning or losing. It’s all about self-growth, not perfection, and it helps by seeing yourself as the only competition. In any case, everybody’s at a different point of the learning curve and we all should be tuning in to to their own body’s hurdles.
Like most practices, Yoga is all about consistency. Each class you take will increase the impact Yoga will have on your life, and it’s clear to see with the way people beam after a class. But if it doesn’t feel right away, don’t worry too much about it. Give it some time and you’ll get into your own groove. Try different styles of classes and teachers until you click with the environment that’s right for you. Trust me, with diligence, you’ll be ready to accept all the gifts that Yoga has to offer.
These days, my husband brings his zen back home and already he’s less grumpy in the mornings. If anything, he’s eager to learn more and is signing up for more advanced classes. Needless to say, I’m proud of him and all of you who are deciding to go and roll out the mat yet again. Enjoy the process and remember to stay flexible.