Yoga A Beginners Journey
I started doing yoga about eight months ago.
I’ve always been drawn to yoga. For many years I wanted so badly to get into yoga but just couldn’t find a way to practice…until eight months ago. I finally found a studio that suited me and the kind of practice I hoped to have.
No one says it better than my yoga instructor, “yoga needs a re-branding.”
Yoga has this reputation that it is all about Pilates, skimpy outfits, and “cliquey” women who go to Pilates for the scene, skinny bodies, and want nothing to do with the actual spiritual practice of yoga.
I’ll be honest; I struggled with finding a studio that embodied the spiritual practice of yoga.
The reason I was drawn to yoga was that I was missing a spiritual practice that I believed I could find in yoga. Yoga, for me, was a way to find a connection with my body, become more grounded, and find a meditation in my practice that will provide me with a place to refuel my spirit and decompress from my everyday stressors. Yes, I wanted to gain flexibility, but I really wanted to find so much more in my yoga practice.
So when I discovered my studio and found my perfect place to nurture that kind of practice I wanted to have I was able to grow my love of yoga.
Through these first eight months of my yoga journey I have learned so much about myself, my practice, and about yoga. So today, I am going to share seven lessons I have learned about yoga, what I’ve fallen in love with along the way, and what you can expect in the beginning of your own yoga journey.
1.) Listen and learn. Yoga is a beautiful place to build a deeper connection with your own body. Yoga can teach you how to listen to your body and learn what it’s trying to tell you. I always expected that my body communicated to me in loud ways, but the truth was I just didn’t know how to listen. Your body communicates with you in its own language and yoga taught me how to understand what it’s saying.
Through being able to listen and learn how to communicate with my body I was able to grow further into my yoga practice. I’ve learned which poses to add on to and make more challenging and which poses I needed to back off and modify.
Finally, I was able to understand why some poses were more difficult than others. My best example here is forward folding. I suffer from tight hamstrings therefore forward folding was very challenging for me until my yoga instructor told me to give my knees a generous bend. People look at yoga poses and think there are a right way and a wrong way to do the pose. If you do a pose incorrectly it can cause more pain and injury, but there is a difference between doing a pose to the point of injury and modifying the pose. I’ve learned that there is no right or wrong way to do a pose, the best way to do a pose is to do it in a way that works best for your body. Learning to listen to my body and bending my knees has since far more improved my forward folding than if I were to keep trying with my legs straight. Listen to your body’s needs, adjust the pose so it feels right for you, and allow the process to deepen your connection between you and your body.
2.) Evolve. Everyone will evolve in his or her yoga journey. What poses you love in the beginning of your journey will become your least favorite or most challenging later on and vice versa. The poses you dreaded, in the beginning, can now become your favorite. Throughout your journey, your love and dislike for certain poses will change constantly. That is one of the things I have loved most about yoga. If you find a pose really challenging or you just constantly want to avoid doing a certain pose, know that you won’t hate it forever, but as you move along through your journey you might find yourself completely in love with that same pose later on. I have loved seeing how the same pose can change throughout my journey, but mostly I enjoy learning to love something I hated before.
Learn that you change as your yoga practice evolves.
3.) Counterbalance. Yoga is a funny thing when it comes to opposites and counterbalance. Throughout your yoga practice, you will become more familiar with how you will need to be pulling in two different directions simultaneously. At first, you will find yourself constantly crashing into your hands and feet with all of your weight. However, it isn’t about holding yourself up from falling over, but in the poses you will learn what it means to be light on the floor and strong on the opposite side of your body to pull and uplift yourself. Throughout yoga, you will find that in poses your body will be pulling down and lifting up, and it will be pulling back and stretching front, etc. Yoga is all about counterbalance.
4.) Capability Over Fear. This is by far one my favorite lessons learned during my yoga journey. We all know that fear is what holds us back. Fear tells we can’t, we aren’t capable. We’ve all also learned that you can never get rid of fear, you can only turn down its volume and drive onward. Every time I practice yoga and I work towards a more difficult pose I am always being reminded that I am capable of so much more than I ever believed.
My body is more capable than I ever expected it to be.
We all let fear cloud our minds and let us forget just how capable and magical our bodies truly are. Yoga reminds us of that beauty. I have loved learning that just because my mind doesn’t think I can, doesn’t mean my body can’t. One of the best feelings in the world is accomplishing something you didn’t think you could and I have had plenty of moments in yoga where I feel completely proud of the way my body overcame my mind.
5.) Strength vs. Surrender. Counterbalance is using your body to uplift and pull in two different directions at the same time to deepen and strengthen your poses. However, Yoga is also all about learning to lean into certain poses to become more comfortable with the uneasiness that arises. Some poses require strength, while others require complete surrender, and then there are the poses that require both.
First, learning which poses ask of your strength and which poses ask you to completely surrender is an amazing journey. Discovering the way you activate your strength to really ground yourself and stand strong in a pose is beautiful and finding the poses that work best when you completely take the effort out of the pose, allowing yourself to release everything in your body to really fall into the pose is just as beautiful.
Next, is learning to stand strong while remaining calm, finding surrender in the strength.
Being comfortable with the uncomfortable.
These are the poses I have learned to fall in love with because it teaches you how there is so much more to a pose than the position of your body.
6.) The Sweatier The Better. A few times a week my yoga practice is gentle and I take it easy, other times I get into a really good flow, warm up my body and really get into those deep stretches. I’ve found that the more I warm up my body, get a good sweat going, the better my practice goes that day. One reason is that the more I break a sweat the more my body is nice and warmed up. When your body is warmed up properly you can get deeper into the different poses, go further in your stretches, and allow your body to move more with ease. The more heat you build up, trust me, the better your yoga practice will be. Secondly, if you break a sweat and work your body more, you will get that exercise high. That exercise high will allow you to leave your practice feeling really good. I know that when I get a good yoga sweat going, I always walk out in a better mood.
7.) Find Your Flow. Lastly, nothing has completely grown my love for yoga than learning to create my own flow. Flow, for me, is moving through poses with ease and grace. My breathing will be just right, the transitions are smooth, and the energy is flowing through me as if I am just floating on a river allowing the current to just take me along for the ride.
Getting in a flow is a beautiful experience.
If you are following the way others are doing yoga or are trying to keep up with a class or are just not following what your body is calling you to do next then it will be really hard to get into your own flow. Flow requires you to breathe your own way, move your own way, and follow what is calling to YOU. If you find yourself in a really good flow with energy just moving through you, the world will just disappear around you. You’ll find yourself in this haze where only you and your mat exist and maybe then you will even find a little bit of bliss.
My yoga journey has just begun. While I am still in my beginner’s journey, in the short time I have been in practice, I have fallen completely in love with yoga and my own personal journey it has taken me on. There is so much information out in the world about yoga, but I thought sharing what I’ve learned on this journey, especially from a beginner’s standpoint, will hopefully give you some insight into what you can expect, what to keep an eye out for, and what you can look forward to. I hope this helps inspire you to uncover all the experiences you will incur during your own yoga journey.
We’d love to hear from you. Do you have a yoga practice? What did you love most about the beginning of your journey? What lessons did you learn?
Share with us in the comments below.