Finding your Flow: Tips for new Yogis
Hello everyone! And welcome to my second blog and response! I was recently reached out to by @Theresa_zorinsky in regards to getting started with yoga. She wanted to know how I got involved with it, as well as tips for people who are just starting their yoga journey. I absolutely LOVE this question because I think there are so many people that have either tried yoga some classes and left feeling defeated, or just haven't quite clicked with I yet, there are also many others who have yoga on their "to do list" but haven't committed and jumped into this overwhelmingly beneficial form of exercise. I can't tell you how many times I've talked with people and heard; "I can't do yoga, I'm not flexible","I feel uncomfortable in those types of classes", "I don't understand what the teachers saying", "I get bored", "I can't slow down my brain enough to be present in class", "I don't have time", "I haven't tried yoga, but it's not my thing". Well, news flash! If you're one of the people thinking or feeling anything along these lines in reference to yoga, then...you are the exact person who NEEDS some yoga in your life! The communication yoga promotes between your mind and body can be directly carried into any other sport or act of daily living. The physical benefits are also endless, yoga improves flexibility, strength, balance, digestion, blood pressure, bone health, immune system, focus, and sleep. However, in my opinion yoga almost has an even greater impact on your mental state and outlook on the world, some changes experts prove to be encountered are increased happiness, mindfulness, and self confidence. Do I have you intrigued yet??
How did I get into yoga?
To answer the first part of the question, growing up I was a competitive gymnast. Gymnastics has had a massive impact in all areas of my life, I was absolutely obsessed with gymnastics growing up, and I competed up until I fractured my back when I was almost 15. That experience of course was absolutely awful, but the good things that came from gymnastics in my life absolutely outweigh the bad. Some of which include the majority of my athletic ability, especially when it comes to strength and flexibility, which are two key concepts utilized in yoga! So, in some ways I feel that my draw to yoga has been deep rooted since I was young. When I used to work out in high school and college I was always 100% one of the go hard types (which in many ways I still am haha), but I was always pushing my limits, more reps, more weights, more everything! But, as college progressed and the stresses of classes, finances, questionable decisions, and the daunting "what the eff am I going to do with my life" question set in. Needless to say I needed to find an outlet to help me destress and slow down. And Dun duh duhhhhh! Here came yoga to the rescue.
In all honesty when I first started classes yoga and I didn't immediately click, let's just say yoga was playing hard to get. During every single class I went to, my mind was still going a mile a minute, and I couldn't help but think that my time would be much better spent sweating my A@# off on the stair stepper. I would look around at some other students in the class and think that they literally looked like a calm, serene, purely focused Mother Theresa meanwhile in my head I was singing Classic Rock Lyrics and plotting my next move after class. I wanted to learn every pose, I wanted to nail them as fast as possible, and I wanted to simultaneously leave the class feeling ultra calm as if I was floating on a cloud and totally intact with my higher self. Who was I kidding?! What a contradiction I was! Yoga was not about to let me get by like that. Even though I hadn't been totally sold on her, I kept coming back for more. And you know what happened? My practice improved, and it continued to improve! And then you know what happened? As my body became more skilled in the asana practice, my mind began to follow! Ain't it funny how that works? Because of my yoga practice I can tell you I have never felt more intact with myself and my body. I began to realize that so many things that happen on the mat directly relate into things that happen in daily life. And now I'm (occasionally) one of those Mother Theresa's I mentioned earlier. So caught in the present moment, getting all up in what I used to consider "overdramatic breathing", and yes, even feeling emotional at certain parts of my practice. Who woulda thought? Soon after really delving in, I became a 200 hour registered yoga teacher so I could also lead people through a practice I love and hopefully impact their day, or even their lives for the better.
Advice to the new Yogi
1. "Comparison is the Thief of Joy" - Theodore Roosevelt
This could be one of my biggest recommendations to new yogi's. If you spend your time comparing yourself to others in the class you might never feel happy with where you're at. You will also likely miss many of the small improvements you've already made which should be celebrated just as much as the big improvements. "Don't compare your beginnings to someone else's middle." - Tim Hiller
You more than likely won't know the people in your class' stories. You have no idea how long they have been practicing, nor any idea what their starting point was. Remember you're a beginner! Great things aren't easy, and yoga isn't easy. If you spend your time comparing yourself to others chances are it'll be a huge determent in you coming to class and a huge kick to your confidence. It ain't worth it!
2. Modify until you're ready to Fly
Most teachers will provide variations of the same pose, there's nothing wrong with taking the beginner variation! Like we said in point number one, there will often be many different levels in the same class. You don't have to be the cool guy in the front pulling the hardest variation right off the bat. It's soooo much more important to practice proper form versus greater difficulty. You will get there!
3. Always Bring Protection
Yes I mean bring a water bottle, yoga mat, and towel.
4. If you have questions...ASK!
Wait until the end of class, lol. But 100% ask your teacher any questions that arise! We are here for you! Did you have trouble transitioning between poses? Could you not hear an important cue? Is a certain pose causing you pain? Do you wanna know your teachers background and personal yoga journey? You wanna know where the best place in town is to get a drink after class? ASKKK! Kind of kidding about the last one (or am I)? But you get the point. In many cases getting to know the teacher enough to feel comfortable around them can really improve your practice or improve your enjoyment in the class at the least.
5. The Golden Rule...Rules
Ahh the golden rule. Yes I'm telling you to be nice. When taken out of our comfort zones often the initial human response is to be standoffish or to ignore/not make eye contact with anyone. If you have a consistent job chances are you'll put yourself in a schedule where you end up in the same classes every week. Its amazing how much more fun classes are when you actually communicate with and create a bond and support system with other people that are present. One of my favorite things about group classes is the energy, and you can really feel the difference when everyone is there to work hard and empower each other.
6. It takes all Kinds of Kinds
If you do happen to have an experience where you leave class pulling a Randy Jackson saying "It's gonna be a no from me Dawg." Before you write it off completely, remember, there are SO many different styles of yoga, SO many different yoga studios, and SOOOO many different yoga teachers. Try out a few locations and classes before making your decision. Hell! Go around doing a free week at every studio that allows it (which many do) and then see how ya feel!
7. Don't hold ya breath
Literally. One of the biggest parts of yoga is the breathing, so don't forget to do it! Breathing is actually still one of the hardest parts for me. But when you get it you'll see a world of a difference in your practice and in the appreciation you feel for the human body. And sometimes, the room will all breathe perfectly in sync with each other, and when that happens boy oh boy are you in for a treat! It literally feels like the walls are pulsing lol, that's some powerful yogi S#@! y'all!
8. Have fun
Need I say more?! Love yoself and enjoy yoself! <3
I am also incredibly stoked to announce that I will be teaching classes at my first yoga retreat hosted by Inspired Retreats October 31 - November 4, 2018 in Punta Mita Mexico (40 minutes from Puerto Vallarta). If you're interested in attending, or want to learn more click HERE Or feel free to message me for more details. There's currently a great deal going one where you can save $300 if you're one of the first guests to register. See you in paradise!