Starting out in yoga is like starting out in a new relationship. It’s exciting, it makes us feel amazing and it can be more than a little bit addictive! Like most new things we learn, the beginning stages of yoga are really important because this is when we lay the foundation and form habits that can really shape the way we practice.
So here are 5 tips that are aimed at beginner yogis (but can equally serve as reminders for yogis of all levels).
1. Yoga Is Not A Competition
That’s right, your yoga is all about you, so there’s literally nobody to compete with! Yep, it’s human nature to want to glance around the room, particularly at those super bendy people who can do the advanced postures BUT there’s a difference between mild curiosity and non-useful comparison. Yoga is not a competition. If you find yourself comparing yourself with others in the room (and we all do it!) remember that we all practice yoga for different reasons. Stay focused on your reason for practicing and forget about everyone else around you. I guarantee you’ll feel more relaxed and enjoy your time on the mat more because of it.
2. Get To Know Your Breath
For me, the breath is the most important aspect of yoga. The breath quite literally sustains human life, as it carries both oxygen and prana (the energetic life force that is also known as chi or ki) through our system. Maintaining an awareness of your breath as you practice can lead to a deeper connection between body and mind and can result in greater feelings of clarity and calm (and who doesn’t want that!). When I practice, I focus on my breath as a priority and I know that if my breathing becomes ragged (usually when I start pushing myself physically) then I have lost my yoga. The other awesome thing about learning how to connect with your breath is that you instantly have a tool to bring you back to the present moment, whether you are on the mat or not.
3. Be Curious
Becoming curious can help stop us falling into auto pilot mode with our practice. Yoga is such an incredible opportunity to learn about how you act, think and respond to life physically, mentally, emotionally and for those who are inclined, spiritually. Developing a sense of curiosity may help you discover that you habitually hold a posture with incorrect alignment or that you tend to lose your connection with your breath during a dynamic sequence of postures. Curiosity leads to awareness and awareness allows you to notice things that can lead to positive growth and transformation.
4. Listen To The Adjustments Your Teacher Is Giving
It’s not always easy but try to ignore the internal chatterbox and really tune in to what your teacher is saying during class. Students so often miss really valuable alignment cues that can really make a difference to a posture because they are too busy getting caught up in internal dialogue. Listening to your teacher can also be a gem of a way to come back to the present moment and can help you let go of thoughts about your dinner or weekend plans.
5. Buy Yourself A Decent Mat
I’ve got to say that as yogis we are pretty lucky when it comes to our equipment. Many other sports and hobbies come with a huge price tag when it comes to equipment and accessories, but you can pick up a really good quality (and eco friendly) mat for around $100 which in the scheme of things, is pretty good. Okay I realise this is more of a luxury item than an essential requirement for a beginner yogi but if you invest in a decent mat then you might just be a little more motivated to practice more often. Perhaps that means you do a couple of postures before your shower in the morning, or perhaps it means you will lie down in Childs Pose or Shavasana at the end of a busy day…
Hope these help! Feel free to share your tips in the comments section below.