Is yoga for you?
Is Yoga for you?
If you have never tried yoga before, the idea of it can be intimidating. You may have heard somewhere before or gathered the idea based on images you have seen that to practice yoga, you must have a certain level of flexibility or physical fitness, which is not the case. Plus, apart from what you know about yoga's physical aspect, the practice incorporates spiritual elements, meditation, and breathwork that can make it seem a bit overwhelming - unlike any exercise class you have tried before.
While the truth is that, yes, yoga is much more than a physical practice, incorporating many elements that may seem foreign to you now, this does not mean it is not a practice for you, but rather something new to you. Yoga has the potential to change everyone's lives for the better in an abundance of ways. From improved focus, balance, flexibility, strength, spinal health, and mental and emotional wellbeing, if any of this calls to you, then yes, yoga is for you. If you feel you lack in any or all of these areas, then yes, yoga is still for you. The common misconception about yoga is that you must arrive with much of this already under your belt. This misconception is the very reason why many people steer clear of yoga altogether, but what you will come to find is that yoga is not quite the practice you may think it is.
Even if you think you are the most inflexible being on the planet or always seem to have trouble focusing, yoga is for you. Yoga is open to all shapes, sizes, ages, and levels of experience. From its various styles to non-judgmental principles, yoga is a practice for everyone, and here is a closer look as to why:
Yoga is not just what you see on social media
Many people in the world inspire us because they do extraordinary things. Take, for instance, the pretzel-like shapes you see yogi's doing on your Instagram feed. Maybe this piques your curiosity for yoga, and if so, that's great. Maybe seeing poses like this inspires you to want to do the same, and if so, we are not here to tell you that it is wrong to want to be able to do fun, advanced poses. We are just here to tell you that, for one, you are seeing a representation of a small percentage of yogi's who can do remarkable things (after a great deal of dedication and practice, that is), not of what your yoga class will look like. Two, there is more to yoga than what meets the eye.
The social media side of yoga can be either deterring or inspiring; it depends on how we receive these messages. However, there is one thing that most of us, especially beginner yogi's, see the same: photos that represent a result rather than a process, and yoga is about the process. Your yoga journey will not look like anyone else's, and no advanced pose or beautiful photo could ever be an accurate or complete representation of everything yoga has to offer you.
Yoga is not just about touching your toes
Because the posture element of yoga has been so highly popularised in the western world, it is easy for one to think that yoga is purely a form of physical exercise. Yet the postures, or asanas, are the means to more profound benefits, while the strength, balance, and flexibility are more like a bonus.
Yoga is a practice that aims to unite the body and mind, and it is through the postures that we can establish that mind-body connection. By stilling the mind, concentrating on the breath, and moving gracefully and mindfully between the poses, we do not only find a balance of the body but harmony within ourselves. We practice flexibility for the muscles and joints so that we can be more adaptable in life. We hold postures and build strength to help us develop the resilience we need to manage stress and difficulties.
No matter what yoga means to you or why you continue to practice, the vital thing to note is that yoga offers benefits that go far beyond the physical body. You do not have to be flexible to do yoga; you just have to open up your mind enough to try.
Yoga is not limited to those who have already started
What we mean by this is, we all must start somewhere. No matter where you think someone else is in their practice based on what you see, they did not get there overnight or after one practice. No one who practices yoga gets to skip ahead, and even if they could, after everything you have just learned about yoga, can you begin to see how that just would not be worth it? Skipping ahead to whatever "result" you have in mind would defeat the entire purpose of yoga as a journey.
Achieving what you wish to seek through yoga takes dedication and focus and usually a willingness to look silly or lose your balance. What you put into this practice is entirely up to you and will depend on your unique goals and purposes for practicing. Yet, one thing we all have in common is that we must start with the basics, and this is true for anything we do in life. Remember this when there are people next to you in class, and you are worried that they are casting judgments; chances are, the other students are not even looking at you, and in either case, they know what it's like to be in your shoes (or lack thereof, in the case of yoga).
So, is yoga for you? Absolutely - as long as you want it to be. And when you are ready to give it a shot, remember not to let the things that intimidate or mislead you hold you back. Yoga is a powerful practice that has the potential to alter your mindset and perspective on life, and isn't anything that can bring us a little more happiness, balance, peace, and contentment worth trying?
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