Fight the Fear part 2: Yoga Truths
Persistence. Patience. Strength. Adaptability. Kindness.
KIN's Vic runs through her tips on starting out your yoga journey and how to harness these qualities to overcome common fears.
"I'm not flexible enough for yoga"
Not being flexible enough is the top reason I hear why people avoid or become fearful of yoga. Body type, age and perceived fitness level are also other factors that put people off. The truth is yoga is really for everyBODY - young, old, larger, smaller, with an injury, pregnant, disabled, desk worker, really everybody. There are a myriad of different yoga styles, practices and teachers out there for all body shapes and stages of life.
YOGA IS NOT ALL ABOUT FLEXIBILITY Seeing those insanely bendy yogis with their legs wrapped around their head balancing on their finger on Instagram is enough to make you think yoga is exclusively for out of this world acrobat flexible people. The preconception of yoga as something inaccessible has a massive impact on the confidence of those looking to start out as a beginner. Whilst flexibility is a component of yoga is also equally about building up strength, improving your posture, changing your energy levels and prioritising your mental health.
The first thing to ask yourself is what do you want out of your time doing yoga? Is it to be more flexible? To gain strength or simply to de-stress and relax? From there you can take a look at the different styles of yoga available and see which one will suit you. It may be a dynamic movement based practice or maybe more meditation and relaxation. Possibly combining yoga with another familiar exercise such as HIIT will give you more of a taster and gentle ease into the practice. START SMALL. Try and take a beginners class or an open class where the teacher will be expecting a range of abilities. I have students from all walks of life and fitness levels coming into my classes therefore I plan modified versions of each pose to try and suit every body type.
“I was worried that I wouldn't be able to 'keep up' or do all the exercises, and would feel like an idiot. However it has been absolutely no problem in that respect as during the HIIT and yoga we are always given alternatives of how to do things at our level, and lots of encouragement” – Cassie
My biggest advice is try not to worry about what other people think and compare yourself. If the person next to you or side by side on a zoom screen can touch their nose on their shin, don’t think you are inferior if you can’t do the same. Yoga provides a unique space to really LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If your arms are shaking and your face is bright red come down and rest! Only you know how you feel when you move so move with kindness over force. Rest when you need to and when the teacher offers it. The actual beauty of the move to virtual classes is we have our own space to move freely, connect with our bodies in own environment. Plus we can yoga in our pj's and jump straight into bed after a relaxation, result!
THE BREATH IS EVERYTHING. Sometimes it really is an effort to remember to breathe! But breathing is the key to improving our practice and gaining strength, flexibility and mental clarity. If breathing in and out through your nose feels alien or plain weird then don’t sweat it, breath through your mouth! Let the breath guide you through any training you do - if you are struggling to take full breaths, rest until it’s back again. You will notice that tuning into the breath enables the body to release and open up, allowing you to melt and enjoy your time on the mat.
It takes time for your body to adjust to the new breathing, new ways of moving the body so be patient. You may not be able to see changes immediately but a regular practice really can transform the way you move but also the way you think, your mood and your general wellbeing. Keep going, trust your body!
"Since attending yoga I feel I can touch my toes and stand on one leg. My body was so stiff. I had never done yoga in my life and I'm loving it!" Zoila