Yoga, like meditation, often creates a myriad of confusing expectations in the mind of a beginner. Maybe they expect monk-on-a-mountaintop serenity at the end of a first session. Maybe they expect the answers to the world’s problems to flower in their mind in a kaleidoscope of blossoms.
Probably the one truism is that whatever you go into it expecting, it probably won’t be that :). So, with that being said, here are a few thoughts.
Yoga should not hurt. Always listen to your body. If something is hurting, that’s a sign that you pressed your current capabilities a little too hard. Ease up a bit.
Be gentle with yourself. Always listen to what your body is saying and respect it. You can do a little more the next day, and the next. There is no race. Build your capabilities over time and you’ll be amazed how far you get.
Yoga’s aim is gentle acceptance. Release any stress about “doing it perfectly” and aim for “doing it the best I can today.” Don’t judge yourself against experts on YouTube who have been doing this for years. Simply aim to have your own body be a little better than it was yesterday. Think of each session as a curious exploration of where your body is today. Aim for “that’s interesting!” rather than “Jeez, why can’t I do that?” Breathe deeply. Praise yourself for your efforts.
The first few times that you do yoga it will probably feel awkward and perhaps uncomfortable. You are doing things your body hasn’t done before. You are stepping out of your comfort zone. That is all right! That is wonderful. It builds strength in your body, your brain, your lungs, your circulatory system, and many other aspects of you. It helps buffer you against stress and even shore up your immune system.
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As you get used to the routine, most people come to think of it as comforting and familiar. The poses will feel good physically. It’ll be amazingly wonderful to settle into that spinal twist. Your muscles will sigh with joy as you reach for the sky.
Your brain will ease, too. Stresses will melt away as you settle into the familiar, comfortable poses. You’ll forget, for a while, about whatever is pressuring you.
Your focus will be the snuggly blanket of motion which you are enveloped in.
It will be like a virtual vacation that can be summoned at any time, in any location. It will be a high-end spa treatment which is wholly free and helps both your body and spirit.
For the beginner, hang in there. All of the benefits are within reach – and they’re not that far away.
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