10 things I think everyone starting yoga should know.
1. Yoga is not a religion. Somewhere along the lines of where yoga came from and who practices it, people started to think that it is a religion. While I am sure in some cultures they mix it with their religion, the fact remains that yoga is a way of life, a type of exercise, but not a religion. Yoga is all about moving your body, finding out who you are, not who the world says you should be. Period.
2. Yoga is not a push til you drop practice. Child's pose is there for a reason. Use it. If you cannot keep your oujjai breath steady and on point, it is time to drop to child's pose and regain your breathing and composure. If you are not breathing correctly, the yoga is not going to do what you need it to. It is okay to drop and meditate and get back on track.
3. I did not lose weight the first month. I was so frustrated. Thankfully I did not join to just lose weight. I started to get my life back from cancer, as a recovery, so I kept going. The second month I lost barely anything, but the third month I dropped 15 lbs. My theory is that those first two months I was developing so much muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. It is working, keep going! After 6 months of yoga practice I lost 30lbs. Remember the first 2 months, almost nothing... but look at me now! Don't stop. Get rid of the scale for the first few months.
4. Get a good mat. I used to roll my eyes at this, thinking that surely there is not much difference in the mats. I was dead wrong. It completely changes your practice to have a mat that is thick and comfortable but most of all grips well. I am partial to Manduka mats. You may think they are spendy, but they have a lifetime warranty and I personally can't find another mat that compares to my EKO mat. I can be dripping with sweat and I still don't budge. Get the mat. Pay the money. You won't be sorry.
5. No one is watching you. Seriously, I used to be so paranoid about how I looked, my gut hanging out, etc... Once you really get involved in yoga you realize it is just you and your mat. Say hi to your neighbor when you get there, and then forget about them until the practice is over. Everyone else is in the same position. Do you have time to watch others? Not really. Close your eyes and dive in. It is just you and your mat. Stop worrying about others. The same goes in life. Everyone else is just a reflection of us anyway, don't you want to find out who YOU are? This is all about you and no one else.
6. When you wake up and are "too sore" to go to yoga.. GO ANYWAY. One of the best things you can do for your soreness is stretch it out. You will learn to crave that soreness. The more you stretch the faster it goes away.
7. Always practice on an empty stomach. It used to be that a good light snack was good before cardio. This is not the case in yoga. You are bending and activating the core so much, it is highly recommended by most that you come to class with an empty stomach and an open mind. There is plenty of time for an amazing post workout meal. You don't want your breakfast to end up on your mat. Bring water, that is all you need.
8. Take pictures. I know a lot of you will never post any, and that is totally fine. I have found that when I am down on my practice or get discouraged, I look at old pictures and compare with current ones. It will shock you how far you come so quickly. Getting involved in yoga challenges is great because you take pictures of the poses and meet other yogis. Even if you are not a social bee, take the pictures, you will be glad you did. I love laughing at old failures and celebrating new victories.
9. That moment when you are stretching, it is painful, and you want to give up and get out of the pose, give it one more full oujjai breath, breathing into where the pain is. Try to surrender. If you can get past this and just surrender, the pain stops. It is a mind over matter game. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose, but if you can push past that initial panic and use your breath to calm you down, magic happens and that is where you truly progress. That pain is just you fighting. Surrender.
10. Have fun. This is your journey. It is never over. How exciting that each day it is like we are born again. We get to try all over again with some victories and some failures that we learn from. Treasure your yoga. It is a gift.