I’m not your typical yoga teacher… I didn’t do gymnastics as a child (in fact, I was extremely clumsy), before I started yoga I couldn’t touch my toes and I spent nearly ten years working as an actuary in finance constantly feeling stressed and overwhelmed before doing a 360 and changing my career when pregnant with my son.
After a few years of doing a class every few weeks, I took up a daily self-practice in 2014 to help manage my stress levels before trying for a baby.
Yoga changed my life. And this simple fact is why I do what I do and why I LOVE doing what I do.
Embarking on a yoga journey can be a transformative experience both physically and mentally but so many people are put off before they even start. I have spent the last few days reflecting on the things I wish I had known before I started practicing yoga.
Here are 10 insights that I hope help you take that leap of faith to create a lasting yoga habit.
- Yoga isn’t just about flexibility
One common misconception is that you need to be super flexible to practise yoga. In reality, yoga is about connection and finding balance, strength and mindfulness. Flexibility will come with time, but it’s not a prerequisite I promise you.
- Breath work is a game-changer
In yoga we use the breath as an anchor to keep us in the present moment. We can also use different breathing techniques to transform the way we feel. Yoga is not just about the poses; pranayama (breath control) is a fundamental part of yoga. Learning conscious breathing is a game-changer for your practice (and your life!).
- Yoga isn’t about being perfect
Perfect doesn’t exist. As cliche as this may sound, yoga really is a journey, not a destination. It’s not about perfect poses; a pose which feels incredible done in a certain way for me may feel terrible in your body. We are all different, and the key is tuning in to what we need in that moment. It’s about self-discovery. Embrace your imperfections and enjoy the process.
- Yoga is for everyone
I find it infuriating that yoga can seem like an exclusive club only for certain people. It’s NOT TRUE. Regardless of your age, body shape or fitness level, yoga is for you. There are countless variations, modifications and different class styles to make it accessible to all. You can even practise chair yoga where you are seated for the whole class!
- Meditation is part of the practice
Like the breath, meditation and mindfulness are key parts of yoga. In the current world of chaos and noise, don’t underestimate the power of stillness and finding inner peace. Incorporating meditation into your practice can transform your life. And if sitting still isn’t for you, walking meditations may help you find that inner stillness.
- Find the right teacher
A skilled and compassionate yoga teacher can make a world of difference. I would really recommend trying different class styles and teachers to find a practice and someone who resonates with you and your values.
- It’s More than physical exercise
Yoga is about the poses. The poses were in fact a way to help us sit comfortably in meditation. Yoga is not just a workout; it’s a lifestyle. It encompasses ethical principles (yamas and niyamas) that guide your behavior on and off the mat. Kindness, compassion and self-awareness are key elements.
- Yoga strengthens the mind-body connection
There is an intricate relationship between our thoughts, emotions and mental states and our physical health and well-being. Yoga helps us strengthen this mind-body connection. As we move through poses, we realise that our thoughts and emotions are interconnected with our physical sensations. Yoga helps us understand and balance this connection.
- Yoga community is supportive
Yoga communities are welcoming and supportive and you may make lifelong friends (on Yoga Happy many people have forged strong connections with like minded yogis across the world!). The friendships you make on your yoga journey can be profound and inspiring. Join the yoga community with an open heart.
- Intention is key
Always think about intention; the ‘why’ you are on the yoga mat. This shuts out all the noise of what others are doing, what certain poses should look like and it lets you simply connect with what you need and why.
I truly believe that what you learn on your mat can positively impact your entire life, making every step of your yoga journey truly worth it.
If you are a beginner and struggling where to start, please check out the brand new series on my app Yoga For Beginners and if you’re looking to progress your practice I have over 400 classes for you here.