Start Doing Yoga in 2016

I recently sent out a newsletter to my students asking them to talk themselves. goddess

Specifically, I asked them if they could go back and tell their pre yoga self something about the practice, what would they say?  I asked them if there was anything they would have liked to have been told before they went to their first yoga class?  Something that maybe would have made them attend sooner?

I asked these things, because the New Year is upon us.  There will be many people looking to take up yoga for the first time.  People that were just like all of us when we first started practicing yoga.  I think it stands to reason that they could benefit from our experience.

Never ones to let me down, the yoga doers provided!  I got some wonderful responses.

What I would tell myself?  It is okay that I am overweight and have not touched my toes in thirty years.  It is okay that I am at least twenty-five years older than most.  It is okay that I cannot be flexible and perfect in my poses.  It is okay that I do not have cute yoga clothes and my feet are not perfectly manicured.  It is okay to sweat.  It is okay to feel exhausted.  It is okay to keep trying.  It is okay that one day I will be able to fold where my head is close to my knees.  It is okay to feel very proud of myself.  It is okay that this will be part of my rest of my life!
Susan Davis, yoga since April 2015

A friend called and asked if I wanted to go to a yoga class. Almost before she could get the question out I said “YES”, mostly because she was a good friend and I didn’t get to see her often enough and thought this would be a great chance to visit and get a bit of exercise to boot! I also said “YES” because my motto at the time was simply to say “YES” to more things which I thought might benefit me in some way. So off we went to McCabe Community Center for an evening yoga class. I had taken a few classes years before, but this time I was hooked immediately. Each class I attended and each new teacher I met brought a richer and deeper understanding of the true benefits of yoga for me, body, mind and spirit. There were so many twists, poses and skills that I simply accepted that I would never accomplish in the beginning. Even with this self doubt, I have accomplished many of them with time, patience, practice and encouragement and training from the many yoga instructors who have shared their expertise with me. I actually did a tripod head stand the day before my 59th birthday. I am stronger physically then I have ever been. I know now that the only limits are those I set on myself and, gradually, they are becoming fewer and fewer. The community center environment is perfect for me and I have built a new community around this practice that transcends into my personal life. We have shared weddings, babies, caring for aging parents, injuries, joy and grief with each other all while we are strengthening our bodies from the inside out. All you need to attend a yoga class is the willingness to say “YES”. Come join us in January!
Susan M.:)
Hey Barbara Millicent!
Have been pondering this post and here’s what I’d tell two years ago freaked out me:
Tiny thighs complete with gap. Lulu Lemon™ pants. Working knowledge of Hindi, Sanskrit,
and Complete Confidence. Cool tattoos and limitless, ballet-like flexibility.
Or absolutely none of the above. Go to yoga! Meet the teacher. Try and enjoy and laugh!
Watch the progress that comes and be gentle with yourself, your body is doing the best it can!
I love our community and class and the warm, friendly, fun environment. Couldn’t ask for a
more friendly yogi and fellow practices who make it all accessible with none of the BS.
Probably should end there but I’d also tell me:
Don’t let the lithe A-cup size 0 brunette ballerina who came one time and sat in front of you make you
NEVER come back. And WHO NEEDS THE GREEN HILLS Y and all of their attitude, traffic/parking hell,
and posturing.
McCabe C.C. & Barbara & Anthony for the win!

(Barbara Milicent = inside joke!  Come to class to be in!)

I started yoga because I was drowning in the winter of first year teaching. All I did was work. I was still fairly new in town, and being as busy and stressed as I was did not lend itself to meeting new people. I knew that I needed to exercise in order to stay sane. It was getting colder, and I had been losing weight since I started teaching in August; I had never weighed less and it wasn’t something I liked. The person in the mirror was a pitiable stranger, weak-looking and gross. I had no energy or time to pay any attention to my body because being a brand new teacher in an urban school was incredibly overwhelming. I picked yoga because I thought it would be a good way to force myself to spend an hour in touch with my body, and would provide exercise, but it wouldn’t cause me to lose any more weight (like I thought running or aerobics might do).

I was nervous because I didn’t want anyone to look at me. I wanted to go in and be invisible. I thought the “yoga people” might judge my lack of yoga clothes and would expect me to just execute poses as they were named. I was also a little worried it would be a lot of new agey mumbo jumbo, which don’t get me wrong, I like that stuff too on occasion, but at this point in my life, I was barely hanging on to any semblance of a life; I didn’t want philosophy, mostly I just needed a time structure to get me out of the house and moving my limbs. I think my last worry was a little more judgmental: I wanted to be a badass, and yoga seemed all soft and flowy and girly, not very badass.
But by being in class I got to find out that those sorts of labels aren’t very helpful — whatever else they are, all the other people doing the yoga are just people, doing the yoga, for their own different reasons in their own different times. And, yoga is badass. It’s hard in a way that is satisfying. My favorite part became the beginning of class, the breathing routine, because I liked how much work would be happening, without much outward appearance of it. I also felt like I was finally exercising the core (and muscle awareness) that a physiotherapist tried to get me to do years ago to alleviate upper back pain. I feel stronger, or rather, more capable. I felt very strong after training for the 108 Sun Salutation challenge, and even though I feel like some of that has gone away, what’s key is I feel like I could do it again, because my body has done it before.
So if I were to talk to my poor little mostly-broken newbie-yoga-doer-self, I would tell her to stop judging herself and these conceptual people she didn’t know, and just go breathe and see what else she can do with a little direction. That’s it’s worth a try, and that there are a whole lot of ways to do something right, and you got your whole life to find as many of them as you like. And, go ahead and get to know yourself a little better. You’re worth the time to spend moving around experimenting with your limbs and joints and strength.

If you have something you would like to tell to the folks who are entering 2016 with a yoga practice in mind, please leave a encouraging comment below.

One thought on “Start Doing Yoga in 2016

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