“I have never been to a yoga class.”
There, I said it.
Yoga is one of those things that everyone says can only do you good. But what if you are a home practitioner?
How am I going to know if I am doing myself more harm than good?
“I’m not here to sugar-coat yoga. It’s hard. It requires honesty and a willingness to acknowledge the darker parts of yourself.”
The parts that say “You are not good enough”.
I’ve spent some years now trying to find the perfect balance between getting the poses done correctly and not injuring myself. It is a constant process of trial and error – I won’t lie and tell you I didn’t mess up along the way and come back with a sore wrist or busted hamstring. It’s a slim line to walk on, but I’ve accumulated some handy tips so you won’t have to make the same mistakes I did.
Watch videos – a lot of them!
I have definitely taken videos for granted in the past. I would watch one and think “Yeah, I got this” and then move on to something new, without really thinking about what it was the teacher was trying to teach me.
Consequently (and unsurprisingly), I came to a standstill in my personal yoga practice. Without realising it, I was rushing through my poses. I never really appreciated what the poses were doing to me, how they were meant to affect me. As bad as it sounds, I never paid the teacher any mind when she would tell me to breathe in this pose or focus my eyes. I never relaxed my eyelids in savasana.
It’s fundamental to really pay attention to what the teacher is saying, especially if you connect with that teacher on an attitudinal level. If their beliefs align with your own, or you find their mantras inspiring, then the end result is you can’t help but try to engross yourself in what they are teaching. Of course, this is hard if you are struggling to find a teacher you really connect with. For me, I connected with Bad Yogi and SarahBethYoga the most. They are both different in their focus and styles, but ultimately uphold the same philosophy; “Yoga is for everyone”. Which is absolutely fantastic and we need more teachers like these!
Especially if you are trying new poses. For the first year or so of my practice, I never recorded myself. The idea never entered my mind. After all, the people who record themselves are either teachers or amazingly beautiful and flexible beings, easily slipping into mind-boggling shapes and arm balances. I thought “I could never do that, I’m not good enough!”
It was this thought process that kept me from progressing in my yoga practice. I didn’t know what I looked like; I didn’t know if I was doing the poses correctly.
Then one day, I decided to try it for myself (after binge watching Meghan Currie’s videos, this one is my favourite!).
Another great thing about recording yourself is you get to witness all the great faces you make.
I’ve come to really enjoy the process of recording myself and watching it back. Sometimes you spot bad habits you really didn’t know you had!
And sometimes it’s just funny to watch yourself “fail”!
Ultimately, it’s amazing to see the poses you feel happy in. Those moments are priceless, and I’m happy to get them on camera.
Courses and programs
Again, this is something that took me a while to try out. What is it with the “I got this” attitude I adopted when I started out!? Clearly, I never “got this”, or had anything for that matter. This whole process is a completely humbling experience.
However, this is my weakest link in my practice. I’m so bad at sticking to the schedule of practising with the programs every day. It’s taken me months to finish Erin Motz’s Perfect Body Yoga Program, mostly because I moved country a couple of weeks after I started this, so maybe it wasn’t the best timing. Well, I finished the program the other day and I have started it again, hooray! The PBYP is worthwhile and even if my schedule was haphazard, what I did do felt so beneficial to my practice overall. Not to mention Erin Motz is a badass teacher and yogi! The PB community has helped me so much and made me realise there are so many others out there in my position.
Community brings me onto my next, and last, tip.
Be a part of the community
Interact with other yogis, follow challenges and join FB groups. Being a part of a community provides a source for motivation and hearing other people’s inspiring stories. You see, and recognise, so many other people you connect with and this helpful, encouraging environment is created.
“And the most important part of this is you don’t feel alone in your practice anymore.”