My Intro to Yoga:
I was called to yoga for years before I ever stepped on to my mat. There was this inner knowing inside me yearning for it before I ever understand what yoga was. I’d like to relay that I’ve since learned to listen to that inner knowing, and following those nudges from the universe.
First, like most people, I tried it in my living room and thought “yeah this is pretty cool”, let’s state for the record I was not a person who was into being active at all at the time. Growing up gym class was my nemesis, and I actually almost failed grade 9 gym from lack of attendance. Luckily, I had a really nice gym teacher who let me do some extra credit health assignments and passed me. I hated group activities and didn’t even really want to go outside as a kid. I was more than content to play with my barbies alone for endless hours throughout the day.
Finally, after my once per 3 month home yoga sessions started to not be enough for me, I hoped on Groupon and tried out my first studio.
My very first intro to yoga class I was so intimidated. I had created all these stories in my head that everyone in the room was going to know what they were doing, and I was going to be completely lost. I think most people come into yoga with these notions. Saying things like “I’m not flexible enough for yoga.” I was definitely one of those people.
My second class, I met the ever so talented instructor Andrea King and my heart was at ease. Her class was so accessible. She broke down the postures to intensely that I was able to slowly follow along, and her hands on adjustments allowed me to really understand the postures from the start. At the end of the class, I told her I couldn’t touch my toes and that my Chiropractor told me I probably never would. She just laughed at me, and told me if she could break her tailbone and heal enough to fold, so would I. (I was touching my toes within 3 weeks, friends.)
Yoga became my temple, and Andrea’s classes became a serious addiction as I was suddenly filling some void inside me I’d be craving to fill for years. In those first two months of practicing, I cried almost every class as emotional centres were opened within me. Andrea gentle dropped tissues on my belly as I was in savasana sobbing away. I knew at this point that this was for me, I needed to teach this beautiful practice to the world.
The juicy details:
Starting your practice can be intimidating. Humans have a knack for creating stories that we are simply unworthy or no good enough, or somehow we’re in competition with one another. The good thing is yoga is the most humbling of experiences. It’s all about creating community and breathing as one. And while you move the four corners of your mat become your world, as you learn to tune out the outside world and just listen to the guidance of your instructor.
What I learned quickly was that yoga is not just a physical practice as most view it. This common misconception has led to yoga becoming a little diluted. Yoga is a lifestyle. It goes deep within the foundations of body, mind, and spirit. To truly practice yoga, one must live yoga. Not just hop onto a mat a couple times a week and get into some strange postures.
Yoga is a lifestyle. So I’ve written out my top reasons NOT to start your yoga practice:
(As you’ll notice, they are actually reasons to start NOW.)
So you’ve said to yourself and your best friend Brianna 100 times that you know yoga is good for you, and you should just go already but something is holding you back. You make up excuses like lack of time, or being too tired, or maybe it’s that you’re a gym person, not a yoga person.
Hard truth? This is you playing small. If you’re reading this article it’s because something inside you knows yoga is calling you but for some reason, you’re playing small.
Maybe it’s out of fear. Fear that you will be judged for not being good enough. Fear that you’ll have to actually get out of the rut you’re in and change. Fear of actually feeling better, because let’s face it, sometimes its just easier to be where we are. Change is hard and it takes work.
Ask yourself this simple question. Do you want to continue to play small?
Or are you ready to up-level your life, make a shift, transform and uncover the epic-ness that already lives within you?
You’re not looking for a serious transformation:
Yoga is naturally a transformative lifestyle change. As I’ve mentioned Yoga is not only the physical practice, the asanas, the postures. Yoga is a powerful life-transforming tool, and you will probably feel it from your very first class. Yoga is a lifestyle.
Mindful breath and movement are catalysts for transformation and growth. When you begin to step into a more present and aware state within the body, aka grounding, suddenly an awareness it brought forth that you couldn’t have dreamed of if you’ve been living out of your body. The fascial tissue, which is stretched deeply in yoga holds emotions. Scientists now believe that by accessing fascial tissue in the body, we can reach the conscious and unconscious mind. What does all this jibber-jabber mean? It means a deep release for you. It means opening, releasing and letting go of pain you might have been holding on to all your life.
I mentioned crying a lot when I first started yoga, and that’s an understatement. I cried for the first two years of my practice. My yoga training was a heartfelt cry-fest as I let the tears drip down my face in Savasana while hearing my peers around me sobbing in the silence. You may not have exactly the same response, but I can promise you’ll have some sort of emotional release and it’ll be amazing.
Hard truth? Transformation is messy and uncomfortable yet juicy and delicious. You don’t want to begin to understand your body:
There’s simply no escape it. Yoga tunes you right into the control centre of your own body. You will not be able to stop yourself from becoming in tune with what is going on within you. Suddenly you’ll be aware of tightness in certain areas, and weakness in others. You’ll be hyper-aware of where your strength lives within the body. You’ll also begin to notice where you overcompensate and where to find balance. Yoga brings 360 awareness to the body, spirit, and mind and heightens your awareness of the connection between them. Gone will be the days of “ignorance is bliss”, as you step into a deep understanding of how everything is so eternally linked.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, your external world is a physical representation of your internal world. To see what is going on inside, we must become witness to what we’re experiencing on the outside. To do this, we must become grounded and present.
Self-awareness, self-healing, and self-love are inescapable on your yogic journey.
You’re not into getting physically & mentally healthy:
Movement is medicine, there is just no denying it. We, humans, were not meant to lead such sedentary lives. Our bodies crave fluid movement and body exploration. Movement heals through releasing, stretching, holding and strengthening. Our bodies hold onto experiences and trauma deep within the muscle and tissues. When we stretch and strength, we are healing. Just as the body heals from movement, the mind heals from the connection of movement and breath. Meditative mindful awareness is one of the most powerful healing tools we have.
To become grounded in the body by movement allows us to bring a gentle awareness into the mind. With this, you will learn you are not your body, your mind, or your thoughts. You are the observer. You are your own healer.
You’re not looking to gain strength & flexibility (both mentally and physically):
I love when people ask me if you can get strong from doing yoga. I really get a hearty full laugh out of this question. People are always humbled coming out of a yoga class, as the movements and strengthening accesses muscles they rarely use. Even people who go to the gym every single day.
Yoga will tone your muscles, and build strength and flexibility. Over time through finding deep flexibility, you will begin to strengthen even more. And vice versa, as you find intense strength you’ll be able to create space for deeper flexibility. It really is the yin and the yang. The light and the dark. Complete balance.
Not only will it offer this physical change, but the mental change is an added bonus. Yoga is not mentally easy. To quiet the mind is often the deepest struggle I hear from my students. To remain in a posture offers a new challenge they’ve not seen before. To rest in deep stillness in a yin posture opening up through tight areas of the body remains a mental challenge through the yoga journey.
The most challenging part of yoga for me at the start was savanasa. I thought “You want me to just lay here doing nothing for 10 minutes? You must be mad. I’ve got an entire life to live!” Yet the most profound healing comes from savasana. To learn to finally let go of everything. To soften the mind, the body and the spirit. Now that’s a challenge.
You’re not interested in becoming a part of a heart centred community:
Lastly, you’re definitely not going to want to step into the yoga studio if you like people. Yoga is a community of the heart or Kula. There’s simply no denying it, yoga binds souls together. It calls people together. Don't do yoga if you want to be supported by those around you.
There is something magical about entering a yoga studio and melting in with the community. People start to learn your name and are genuinely excited to see you step on to your mat. Your yoga community becomes your cheering section, excited to see you grow and expand with them.
The other day I almost made it into this epic arm balance and the nicest girl beside me softly said: “you were so close!” And she was genuinely excited for me. That’s yoga.
A good studio, good community, and good yoga instructor will have you feeling supported spiritually, physically and mentally. Unless you’re the Grinch, you’re going to become a part of a community much greater than you could have imagined. It’s inevitable.
So there you have it, my reasons to avoid starting yoga.
If you’re looking to stay stuck exactly as you are right at this moment, make sure you don’t make it on to your yoga mat this week, this month, this year.
Obviously, I’m being sarcastic, I want you to expand! And one last note. Find a yoga teacher and yoga style that you connect with. There are many teachers out there that I simply don’t connect with, for whatever reason. And there are many types of yoga out there that don’t feel good to me. Explore, and when you find that sweet spot, dive right in.
Vika is a Certified Holistic Life Coach, Mindset Coach and 200 Hour Certified Yoga Teacher, working toward her 500HR training. She recently followed her hearts call to the mountains relocating to the beautiful Okanagan from Hamilton, Ontario. Vika was called to yoga to heal through anxiety and physical pain within her body. She knew within her first month of practicing that she wanted to give this gift to others, and signed up for her teacher training at Angeli Yoga Training, in Mississauga, Ontario. Vika is fascinated with the mind, body, and spirit connection and works deeply with people to discover how the external relates to the internal world. Vika is a decaf almond milk loving, flannel sheet sleeping dog mom who loves the exploration of life. She spends her spare time practicing yoga, hiking, and running her other business which combines the two.
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