I’m in love with three things: my boyfriend, my Boston Terrier, and yoga. Okay, so maybe the yoga part seems a strange thing to be in love with, but in a way, it’s how I love myself and my body.
I first started practicing when I was 17, and have always come back to it, no matter how sporadically, for the past 14 years. (I know you did the math!) It makes me feel like I am strong, physically, mentally, and emotionally. My boyfriend, my friends, and strangers repeatedly say they’re “not good at yoga.” You can’t be good or bad at yoga. Yoga is what you make of it, and these are just some of the reasons I encourage everyone to give it a try.
1. Yoga is not a competition.
I’m not good at most competitive sports, no matter how competitive my spirit is. So the person next to you can jump right into an Eight Angle Pose and you can’t? That’s okay- you may have more flexibility in backbends. It can be tempting to want to be able to do what your neighbor does as soon as you start, but it’s important to remember it’s not a race. Yoga truly is your own journey, and your body will tell you when it’s ready for the next pose.
2. Yoga makes you strong.
Not just physically strong, but mentally and emotionally. You may go into a class knowing exactly who you are and what you want out of life. That’s great! You may go in wanting to find some inner peace. Both people are going to come out knowing themselves a little better. You’ll stand a little bit taller after class, not only from all the Downward Dogs, but because you’re developing a new level of comfort within your mind.
3. Yoga is detoxing.
Sweat it out! Whether it’s eliminating those toxins from too many drinks the night before, or emptying your head from a bad day at work, yoga teaches you to let it go. When you run, bicycle, or stairclimb, negative thoughts can stay with you, and frequently increase in volume. Yoga urges your mind to focus on the breath, on the body. By spending an hour ridding yourself of negative energy, you’re welcoming in the positive. Sweating out the bad vibes opens your body for a new beginning.
4. Yoga is a support system.
I was given a beautiful mat made by Jolly Jiva for a birthday present, with the wish that each time I looked down on it, I would think of the gift giver. Now, I look at my toes and am not only supported by my mat, but by others who encourage my path.Your fellow yogis WANT you to succeed! It goes a little hand in hand with yoga not being a competition. The people you’ve come to share your session with all want to learn from each other and dispense their own knowledge for the greater good. They’re going to help you get into that Side Crow!
5. Yoga makes you happy.
Yoga is “me time.”Have you ever heard someone grumbling about having to go to yoga class? I haven’t. In my experience, we’re all rushing to see who can get there first to claim the best spot! This is one hour, at the least, that is all yours. You can make it what you want. It’s your practice to focus solely on yourself, and we all need that in order to survive, right? You’ll walk out of there, perhaps a little sweaty and stinky, but with a better outlook now that you’ve checked out of the grind for a bit.
Best of all, yoga challenges you to be your own inspiration. When we can spend so much time trying to be someone we’re not, yoga forces us to put aside what we think we should be, and become who we are meant to be.
So come on, stop doubting yourself, and give it a try! From Yoga Nidra to Bikram, there’s always an open mat welcoming you to find your inner yogi. Namasté!