1. We don’t care if you are ‘good’ at yoga. Some people new to yoga are afraid they are doing it ‘wrong’, and that they are secretly being judged by their teacher or by other students. I can tell you without hesitation most yoga teachers are trained to see your potential, your inherent goodness and your efforts, not how accomplished you are. I look at students who are coming to class as people trying to do something good for their body and I applaud them for it! Beginner or advanced yogi – what matters is your willingness to learn something new and your ability to not take yourself to seriously.
2. Don’t retreat to the back of the room. If you are new to yoga, resist the temptation to go to the farthest corner at the back of the room. I know you think you are being judged (see above) or that you don’t want the teacher to single you out. But going to the back of the room is a bad idea. If you can’t hear or see me you will tend to look around at other students for guidance and they may or may not be doing the pose correctly. Plus it means you are watching them and not feeling your body. A good teacher should be able to adjust your pose without embarrassing you or making you feel small. We want to help you enjoy yoga, so ask questions, listen carefully and join the front row! We won’t bite.
3. The other students are not thinking about you! Another thing newbies worry about is being judged by others more experienced in the room. What you will find as you continue to practice is that most students are just thinking about their own poses and not paying attention to you at all. The really advanced students are the ones in the room practicing the most compassion for themselves and for those around them.
4. Everyone has their challenges and their unique gifts. Some people come to yoga with natural flexibility, but are challenged by strength and balance. Others are very stiff but are stable and grounded. If you practice a while, you discover amazing things about your body and eventually find a way to befriend it. I know some people make the poses look so easy but you have no idea know how long it took for those ‘more advanced’ yogis to make that pose look so effortless.
5. Your commitment will pay off. Sometimes the yoga makes you feel better right away, but sometimes it takes awhile. If you are consistent though, before long you will find yourself craving that light, spacious and centered feeling you get after taking a yoga class. Yoga is something you can do for the rest of your life, not an extreme sport. With so much to discover about yourself, you will never get bored !