On Being New to Yoga

We offer a monthly Intro to Yoga workshop at RBY. Do you remember the last time you tried something new? It takes courage! Perhaps you can even remember what it was like to learn to ride a bicycle. It took perseverance and a lot of help, for most of us– but then came that moment of freedom that we had worked so hard for!

We long for the fear to disappear. No one likes feeling awkward, clumsy, or confused. Often people tell me that is how they felt in their first few yoga classes, but that the feeling passed as they became familiar with the little things. How to use a block, what to do at the beginning and end of each class, and even how to clean a yoga mat: these details become second-nature. But more importantly, in yoga it’s allowing the concepts to sink in that makes the difference. For example, the concept of non-competitiveness. We relax in yoga when we realize that we really are doing it for ourselves, and that no one else (besides the teacher) is paying much attention to what we’re doing or not doing.

This is when the feeling of freedom comes over us. We practice in a group for inspiration from each other and instruction from the teacher. But we practice for ourselves. Yoga is not a performance, a show, or a competition. It is a practice, and one with many benefits– some of them quite surprising. For example, you might think you are starting your yoga practice to increase your flexibility, but find that you also sleep better and crave healthier foods.

Often when people are new to yoga, they wonder about the specific mechanisms that make yoga so effective. And indeed there is a lot of science behind what we do. We discuss some of this science in the Intro Workshop, in fact. But we can also simply let go and let the yoga works its magic, as long as we keep showing up on our mats.