Ever thought about trying yoga, but been attacked by doubts if it’s right for you? Well, you’re not alone.
It’s perfectly normal to feel hesitant about doing something completely new, especially if you’re more used to working at a desk than with your body.
I could easily compile a top five – or top 20 – reasons for avoiding a yoga class. Some of them once popped into my own mind and many have been confided in me over the years: not flexible, not fit, too old to start, dodgy knee, sore lower back, no time, no energy, those poses look impossible, leggings and crop tops – no way.
The list goes on and our thoughts and imagination can run wild.
It doesn’t have to be that way though, and as a yoga practitioner, teacher and teacher trainer I’d love to shed some light on why.
So forget the reasons not to. Here are my top five reasons for getting on the yoga mat:
1. Yoga is for every body and any age.
It just doesn’t matter whether you are flexible or fit, have long legs or short arms, or what you look like when you’re doing yoga. How and what you feel is what counts.
Teachers are trained to work with all ages and abilities. I teach some inspiring people who started in their 80s. There are poses I can do today that I couldn’t do 20 years ago. Every pose and technique can be adapted to make it accessible, beneficial and enjoyable.
Yoga is non-competitive, and isn’t about comparing or criticising. Teachers come in all shapes, sizes, ages and physical abilities, too.
2. Yoga heals and inspires.
If you’re experiencing stress, sleepless nights, aches and pains or are recovering from injury or even surgery, that’s all the more reason to practise yoga. Just be sure to let your teacher know if you have any injuries or health conditions.
Yoga is therapeutic. It improves our health to bring us back to homeostasis, or balance. It also works on a deep, energetic level, through all our layers – physical, emotional, mental and subtle. Yoga clears emotional blocks and frees the heart so that we fulfil our potential and live life to the full.
The reason people keep coming back to yoga is simple. They feel the benefits, whether it’s lower back relief, greater calm, increased creativity, better sleep, being more able to meet life’s challenges or having better relationships with others.
3. A few minutes a day does the trick.
There is no need for long daily sessions. Just a few minutes a day will make a huge difference to your life. Small, regular amounts of yoga are far more effective than a feast or famine approach.
If you attend a weekly class, see what you enjoy the most and talk to your teacher, so you have something you can do on your own at home in between classes. You’ll find this really inspiring and uplifting.
Part of the joy of yoga is that it is a pathless path. By this I mean goals are not necessary and the pressure is off. When we practice with integrity and enjoy what we do the results take care of themselves, just as in other areas of life.
4. Yoga creates energy, and provides TLC when you need it.
As for those impossible-looking poses, yes, they can be fun to work towards if we want to, but a gentle, simple approach provides an equally if not more satisfying experience.
The most powerful practices of yoga are the quiet, subtle, still ones such as meditation, breathing techniques, restorative yoga and yoga nidra (yogic sleep). If you feel lacking in energy these will replenish your reserves and bolster your immune system.
We practise according to how we feel at the time. If we are in need of TLC yoga is the perfect ally.
5. Yoga transforms our outlook and experience of life.
Yoga has an incredible way of transforming doubts and negatives into great positives. Yoga is vast and we never stop learning from its wisdom.
Interestingly, I would also say that the most hesitant, resistant or sceptical at the outset often go on to become yoga’s greatest fans (and teachers). It is a natural part of the process, working through challenges and overcoming our personal obstacles.
We go from doubt to strength, to literally seeing and feeling the light in terms of the benefits yoga brings.
The only way to know this is to do yoga.
If you’ve been a doubter, choose courageous curiosity instead and seek out a class or private teacher to help you along your way.
You’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to discover. I wish you many happy hours on the mat. Your life will thank you for it.
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