Beginner’s Yoga Pep Talk

Well, hello there. So, you’re thinking about taking a yoga class? You’ve heard it’s good for you. And out of all the things that you’ve heard of lately that are good for you (like fish oil, ewwww), yoga sounds somewhat appealing. You think, well, yes, it might help my body. I could be a little more flexible; maybe work toward a stronger core, build some upper body strength. Learn to relax my mind, handle stress a little better. Learn a little about proper breathing.

So you’ve probably visited the website once or twice . . . okay, 25 times, and you’ve looked at the schedule. What does “hatha” mean? And how “beginners” is Beginners Yoga? Are there men in classes at Uttara? And, um what do they wear?

What happens if I plant my mat down next to some spandex-clad rubberband wondergirl, and I can’t do what her 20-years-younger-than-me body can do, and then I just want to go home and sit on the couch?

Ahhhhhh. It takes some guts to show up for that first class, it’s true. And you also have to find (um, actually MAKE) the time to do it. That alone can be so difficult.

Some answers to the above questions: first, hatha (correctly pronounced “hah-ta”) means the “sun” and the “moon” – the “ha” and the “ta” – it is a style of yoga that is balancing, but also forceful. And beginner’s yoga can be for someone with absolutely no yoga experience on up to experienced yogis looking for a more relaxed class, or to perfect their practice.

Remember that any pose can be adapted to suit any body; just be patient, use the props your instructor offers you, remember that it is a PRACTICE, and go from there.

Yes, there are lots of men who practice at Uttara; some are beginners, some in between, and we have a dedicated few that have been coming consistently since we opened (and have progressed beautifully, and you know who you are!). And guys generally wear shorts and a t-shirt that is either snug, or can be tucked in (to avoid wardrobe malfunctions whilst going upside down.) Click on the Facebook link from our Home Page to see some photos from actual classes and maybe that will help you to see what people wear to class.

If you DO happen to end up next to Little Miss Spandex, keep in mind that she’s just doing what her body can do; be inspired if you glance her way. You are supposed to be paying attention to your own body and your own practice. Learn to stop judging yourself (and her, and everyone else in your life, for that matter).

It’s all part of the practice. Because, you see, what you learn on your mat – about your body, about your mind, you take out into the world. However it is you practice, is also usually how your live your life.

What else would I want every beginner to know about yoga and about Uttara?

First, that we are a welcoming place. The vibe is not competitive at all. Each student is encouraged to work at their own pace, and not push beyond their own limits.

The classes are TAUGHT, they are not just led. It is not just an instructor, up there on their mat, doing their practice while you try like crazy to keep up. You are instructed in the poses; you can ask questions; the teachers come around and make adjustments and assist you in the poses. And if you don’t want us to touch you, please just tell us and we’ll leave you alone! I remember being a beginner and not wanting anyone near me. I thought negative things about my body, and assumed everyone who looked at me thought the same awful things, somehow proximity made it worse.

One of the hallmarks of an advanced student is that they usually loved to be mashed on by the instructor, but it takes time to build that relationship (with yourself and the instructor) and to feel comfortable in your own skin. We understand this, just speak your truth.

Now, just because we want you to respect your own limits doesn’t mean we won’t push you. Not all yoga is easy-breezy mild stretching and breathing. My personal taste runs to butt-kicking, music-blasting yoga. I like to work you hard, get you warm, and then wrap it up with deep, longer-hold postures. And I mostly offer 1 hour classes because that’s what I can squeeze into my life when I practice. But that’s just my personal style. You have to try different classes, different styles of yoga, different instructors. A hatha class with one instructor might be quite different with another.

Just, whatever you do, don’t just keep thinking about it. Actually go to a class. If the classes at Uttara don’t fit your schedule, try another Studio; get a video; get a book. Schedule a private. Get together with a friend.

And, please — stop thinking that you’ll do yoga later, when you have time, when things “calm down” — because that is not going to happen; you won’t ever HAVE the time, you have to MAKE it. You’re not going to magically get stronger, more flexible, more serene, more focused — unless you PRACTICE.

Quit making excuses, be truthful with yourself, and get past your fear.

You will be so glad when you do.

I’ll see YOU, in class.

Shanti,

Jill