How To: Start a Yoga Practice
Pick a studio in your area that looks inviting, and go take a class. And then go again. Bring a friend to make sure you go one more time, and then another. Easier said than done, right? Well, here’s how I did it. Hang in there until the end, there may be a little wisdom hidden somewhere along the way.
About 15 years ago, a friend asked me to go with her to a hot yoga class, and I politely said, “No, thanks. I just don’t think yoga is my thing.” What I was really thinking, of course, was “Effing nonsense! Are you kidding me!? ” And of course, what was below that was, “I don’t do anything I don’t know how to do because I don’t want to look foolish.” Hmm. Sound familiar?
Hurdle 1: your ego, and the fear of looking foolish. Take a few deep breaths, and do it anyway, because you are a badass.
About a year later, maybe more, I went to a mommy and me class, because it was free, because getting there would mean a nice stroll from our apartment with the little guy, and any reason to get me and an energetic toddler out of the house during the day was a good thing. And it was free (did I mention that?).
Well, I don’t remember any yoga happening, but I remember that it was fun, and that I liked the teacher. My babe seemed to like her babe, too. So we went again, and again, even paying for a package of classes. And it was more fun each time. There was some yoga, and a lot of toddler fort building with yoga blocks.
I ordered a couple of Yoga DVDs and started practicing at home a bit. I ventured into beginner classes and remember being upset with the teacher throwing sanskrit around like I was supposed to know what the hell she meant. My mommy and me teacher compassionately diffused that and helped me through the sanskrit, and soon I found myself venturing into mixed level classes, and then added in some prenatal classes when we discovered that number 2 was on the way.
Fast forward a year or two, a move to a new neighborhood, two little kids, and a decision to let go of the academic career path I was on to raise my kids. To say that my life was stressful and busy is an understatement. Parenting little ones on your own all day is no small task. My husband is an awesome dad, totally involved and in love with our kids, but gone all day. I had spent a few years in a new identity, was constantly exhausted and feeling not a little isolated. I knew I wanted to find a new yoga studio to go to and to get some time to myself in the evenings.
Now, remember, my husband is an awesome dad, and supportive in every way. A new studio opened just a five minute walk from our new place. I walked in while the toddlers were in toddler gym class next door, and found an oasis. A juice bar, clean, airy space, a beautiful studio room, pretty yoga inspired jewelry and candles for sale. RakSa Wellness Center quickly became my escape a few nights a week. Remember the awesome husband part? I made the dinner, he walked in from work, and I waved “bye bye” as I walked out the door and over to the studio. He fed the kids, bathed the kids, read to the kids, and tucked them into bed. And then I came home to a quiet house after sweating like crazy and being in a serenely peaceful environment, totally supported and cared for by my new teacher.
Hurdle 2: Your excuses that your family or co-workers cannot function without you for an hour or two per day are not the truth. They can, and they will be fine. Get yourself to yoga.
Two years in, kids are growing, and my yoga practice has become a daily thing - early morning practice at home on weekdays and three or four studio classes in the evening and on weekends. Husband is still totally supportive, although he starts to question his formerly academically minded wife when she starts talking about spiritual things (has she joined a cult??). I’ve become a part of a vibrant community at the studio. And then they announce that the studio is closing. I was devastated. My community is scattered, and I feel lost again.
I knew by then how important my practice was to my sense of sanity, so I decided that I was just brave enough to go find a new studio. After all, the husband has got the evening routine down, and I’m not about to give up my “me time.” When it came to it, of course, walking into a new studio was not easy. “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not a real yogi,” “I don’t know what I’m doing,” “I’m not going to be able to do anything,” and the rest of the well-used self-doubting lines filled my thoughts. But I went anyway. And I loved it. It was yoga, and that was what I had come for.
I tried any class that could possibly work in my schedule. Some teachers I liked, some I did not. But I found my groove. I even found the teacher who I would train with a couple of years later to become a teacher myself.
Hurdle 3: If you don’t like your first class, try another one. And another. Let yourself not get it right the first time. Be brave, and try again. Every class, every teacher, is different, and there there is a yoga class out there for everyone. Try approaching your first classes as part of a “first phase” of finding the right studio and teacher to suit you. You’ll find your groove. And before you know it, you’ll look back and realize that magic is happening. Awesome, yoga magic.